Discussion in 'Newbies/Appraiser WannaBe' started by Kelly Welcome, Apr 29, 2006.
What is above-grde square footage and below-grade square footage?
Grade is the ground, the highest level of the earth outside the foundation.
Square footage means area: length x width.
"Above grade area" means that part of the dwelling that is above the ground line, or grade of the earth. Think of the first floor and any floors above.
"Below grade area" is usualy defined as the area that is ALL or PARTLY below that ground line. Think basement space. Even if that space has windows (through the foundation wall) it is considered below-grade.
They are reported as distinct areas. Gross Living Area does not include below grade area.
Oh...... Thank you...
I had never heard of those terms before. I guess here in California, for the most part, we don't have basements. Thanks..I learn something new everyday here on this forum.
I understand that in CA anything above grade may be below grade tomorrow.
Kelly, while it's true that there are not very many houses with basements in California, there are plenty of houses with below grade areas.
For purposes of this discussion, don't think of basements as "cellars." Like a room under the house, for example. Think more like a split-level. A house built on a sloping lot. The lower area has a wall against the slope. That lower area is now below grade, sometimes referred to as a daylight basement or walk-out basement (mostely by non-west coast appraisers.)
These areas are supposed to be reported separately on the Fannie Mae forms. It's irritating because it involves adjusting and reporting gymnastics that really don't apply in the real world.
Ansi Standards GLA Measurment
Basements and Below-Grade Floor Areas
The ANSI standards make a strong distinction between above-grade and below-grade floor area. The above-grade floor area is the sum of all finished square footage which is entirely above ground level. The below-grade floor area includes spaces which are wholly or partly below ground level.
Disregard the old rules of thumb that allow you to include below-grade areas if they are less than five feet below grade, or if less than half the area is below grade. If the house has any areas below the natural grade, measure that whole level separately. Even if the below-grade areas are fully finished, they are not part of the finished floor area according to ANSI standards.
Unless they've change this guideline, like so many others, FANNIE rules indicate 3 lower level walls must be totally above grade to be included as above grade GLA; note **....it is totally acceptable to vary from Standard Guidelines re: the above ......if you demonstrate (by comparables) that it is typical, and customary, in the local market for similarly contructed homes (ie cliffside, mountainside, burm-side) for walk-out, lower level, finished space which is heated, insulated, and finished to similar quality and utility as the remainder of the above grade areas to be included in GLA.
While you have been presented with some definitive language with respect to above and below grade GLA, there is nothing other than your market to tell you if there is a difference in $/GLA. I have not yet found that the market values below grade GLA more than above grade GLA, but it could happen. There are plenty of examples to show below grade GLA is worth less or the same as above grade GLA.
Regarding ANSI standards
Just for the record...
While employing ANSI standards is not a bad idea, the most recent edition (2006) of USPAP FAQs, #89, states specifically that unless ANSI is a supplemental standard for the assignment, using ANSI as the measuring standard is not a USPAP requirement.
Are ANSI measuring standards a Supplemental Standard of Fannie, VA or FHA?
If you're doing the work for fannie or freddie then they've established guidelines:
Denis suggest you check at the VA/FHA FORUM here