Why doesn’t the addition count as square footage?

Additions come in all shapes and sizes, don’t they? I sure have come across some interesting ones in the Sacramento area. Here are a few common reasons why an addition is NOT considered living area.

  1. Illegally built (no permits).
  2. Shoddy workmanship.
  3. No heat source.
  4. Permits were never finaled.
  5. Does not conform with the rest of the house (like the photo).
  6. Does not meet zoning requirements (ie.. code allows 1 unit, but there are 2 units)
  7. There is an obvious code issue such as 4 ft ceilings throughout.
  8. It’s not really an addition of living area, but an enclosed patio, a glorified shed or partition in the garage…

Keep in mind that Tax Records may indicate your house has a large living area (or building area) that even includes the addition, but that does not necessarily mean the area is legitimate living space. It only means the Assessor is taxing you based on the information in their files. The definitive word on the legality of an addition should come from the local building and/or planning department.

What would you add to the list?

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    • says

      I’m not a huge fan of the converted garage for the most part. I don’t know what I’d do with all my tools and bikes and such if we didn’t have garage space. Part of me would like to have an extra room though (but that would be one more room to keep clean though too). I find most “conversions” are really not done that well, while some are pretty decent. Off the top of my head, I cannot recall a conversion that I really loved. Most tend to still retain a garage feel to them despite being “converted”.

  1. says

    Ryan – that photo ALONE was worth stopping in to read your post!

    How many have we seen that fall under the #8 on your list? I showed a home to buyers last year . . . small home, maybe 1200 square feet, but the garage was converted (poorly) and so was a weird porch addition on the back. The thing on the back was only partially weather-tight, the floor sloped a good 4″ from the house to the backyard (over maybe 15′), water was clearly coming in on the sides (green algae on the floors along the “walls”), and so on.

    The house was listed in the MLS at right under 2000 square feet. My buyers were cash buyers and wanted to skip all of the formalities like the inspection and the appraisal! YIKES!

    No, they did NOT buy that house! I packed them up and took them elsewhere!

    I can only imagine the squabble that will come from something like that between the agents and the buyers and sellers – NOT living space!

    • says

      Thanks, Alison. What a perfect example you’ve provided. A house can certainly be listed at 2000 square feet, but all the odd add-ons just don’t really play into the overall living area. I’m glad to hear you showed your client something else.


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