Measuring Stairs for an Appraisal

Icon representing measuring stairs for an appraisal

How Are Stairs Measured for an Appraisal?

I’ve noticed a bunch of keyword queries leading folks to our site wondering about how the square footage of stairs is calculated for an appraisal.

Stairs Are Measured Twice, But Included Once

When a house is measured for an appraisal, it is measured from the outside (if at all possible, and it almost always is possible for at least the first story). For detailed information, please read our series on measuring houses, starting with Determining the Square Footage of a House, Part 1 of 3.

This means that the square footage of the stairs is already included in the measurements for the first story of the home. When the second story is measured, frequently from the inside, the air space above the stairs is not included in the square footage of the second story.

You can imagine it this way: if the first floor was pancaked down to two dimensions, the stairs would (generally, usually) take up a rectangle, just like you see on builder diagrams for a new home. If the second story were pancaked down on top of the first, the staircase would occupy the same space, so it doesn’t get counted again.

Clear as mud? :-)


  1. Hamp Thomas says

    It depends! The ANSI Standard states that stairs are to be included within the square footage total on both levels. The area of the staircase is counted on both floors, regardless of the slope or ceiling height below the staircase. However, many appraisers (about 50%) measure stairs the way that you described (per the American Measurement Standard). That leaves an area that measures between 30-50 sqft keeping an entire industry from standardization. Most appraisers would follow any standard that could be MANDATED by the National Association of Realtors and the Appraisal Foundation. It really can get confusing.

  2. says

    Hi Hamp! Thank you so much for this comment! I agree – one standard should be adopted, because 30 to 50 square feet does make a real difference in the market – and in conversations about value between Realtors, sellers and buyers. Which do you use or prefer?

  3. Hamp Thomas says

    Hi Allison. Just found your comments again. I am finishing an online class right now titled Home Measurement Basics. The course is based on the ANSI Guideline, but explains the difference in measuring stairs. I also have a classroom version being approved for appraisal CE one state at a time – three so far – (trying to get agent’s version out to), and just hope to get some conversation started, so we can pick one and mandate it. Most people I spoke with didn’t care which method was used to measure stairs as long as everyone does it the same way. It’s way overdue! Keep talking about measuring and square footage. Maybe one day!! Thanks

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