Where readers ask, and we try to answer:
I read your article [about calculating square footage in San Francisco] and had a quick question on measuring square footage in a high-rise condominium in San Francisco. Do you know if the structural concrete should get included in the condo square footage? The condo I am looking to buy has about 100 square feet of structural concrete behind some walls, mostly along the edges, and the builder is including it in the square feet measurements. This is not “air space” nor do I own it. I can’t occupy it or modify it. I can see the reason to include partition walls, because these can be knocked down and the space can be occupied. But not so with concrete. Any advice?? The rules seem vague with respect to this.
Also, would you have the name of the individual at the Assessor’s office that replied to your email? They seemed very informative. I called the office and the person I talked to didn’t know the answer to my question (and she was an appraiser).
We tried contacting you directly, but received no reply. We’re putting this up here (as always) in hopes that the community comes back with some good answers. As for the “individual at the Assessor’s office”, we’ll leave that up to them to allow us to release their email. (We’re big on privacy. Hence the reason we allow Marina Prime to comment under a zillion different aliases. ;-) )
Please have a look at the comments for some replies, or to reply to this question.
–Calculating square footage in San Francisco [theFrontSteps]
2 thoughts on “Ask Us: “Should structural concrete be included in the condo square footage?””
The question comes down to if the structural concrete is common area or not – or said differently – if it holds up parts of the building the condo owner doesn’t own. If the answer is yes, then it should not be included in square footage (nor should it be a basis for calculating HOA dues apportioned by private square footage). If this concrete only holds up the condo owner’s property and none other, then an argument can be made that it should be included in square footage.
Another way to get at this question would be to ask if the concrete were damaged and needed repair, who would be paying for it, the HOA or the condo owner exclusively.
Living area in condominiums is defined in the valuation industry as the interior perimeter of the unit, which can mean either the interior wall area or floor space… the structural concrete is usually outside of both of those areas and is generally part of the building common area and generally should not be included in the condominium living square footage… of course there are always exceptions to this rule depending on how the unit is layed out and functions
Of course these shifting definitions highlight the weakness in the price per square foot approach to determining prices… buyers should look to the functional utility of the unit as it compares to other properties in its’ market segment; not rely on a single easily manipulatable indicator