Square footage variance compared to home plan

ShmomeyDecember 2, 2012

I might be wasting my time and this will sound like I have a major OCD issues.... we are getting closer to the end of our build. I measured several rooms compared to the design plan and several were off by 5 to 8 inches per square footage per room. One room was designed to be 14'7 inches long and I only measured 14. Once I add up all of the variances we end up being short by at least 6 to 8 feet off compared to the total planned square footage. In addition, the out side deck is short about 6 inches wide compared to the plan. The deck is specd out at 9 feet wide and I measure 8.7 feet wide on a planned 9 wide by 40 long deck. Is it typical for the variance to be less than what was planned? Should I make a big deal or just leave it alone and enjoy my new house?

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6-8 feet in the entire house? I would ignore and just enjoy.

Sq. Footage typically uses exterior dimensions. The exterior of a room might measure 14 feet while the interior dimension might measure 13 ft 6 inches. This is likely where the 6-8 feet are coming from.

Does that 5 inches on the deck make a huge difference in the long run?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 5:52PM
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If your plan didn't compensate for the wall thickness, it's all going to be a few inches smaller.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 6:25PM
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If you are getting close to the end of your build, then what's built is what's built! But to your question, are you using the proper interior/exterior dimensions?

If so, 6'-8' is a very large variance with the design drawings. Did the builder discuss this with you?

It's normal for a nominal variation between "as built" and construction drawings, particularly if drawings are dimensioned to 1/4" minimums. Lay outs and field conditions often result is some modest changes, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for no reason, other than someone read the tape wrong. But 6'-8' is a lot of variance if you are using the correct dimensions for comparison.

That said, there's little to be done now that construction is almost over. The time to catch this is long past. I'd settle back and enjoy my new house, as best as possible.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 6:49PM
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You speak of square footage and linear feet in the same sentence so it is difficult to understand what the issue is.

Gross area is measured in square feet from the outside of the exterior walls and the centerline of interior walls but room dimensions should are measured from the faces of the walls and might be rounded off to the nearest inch for a brochure.

Construction documents are usually taken from the faces of studs.

You didn't say what kind of drawing you are looking at.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 6:57PM
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I know there is nothing I can do it about now... I thought since the total cost for the house was based on being charged by the square foot.....I could get the builder give me back some cost savings on my over budget line items.. . 5 to 10 feet variance could add up to $800 or $1500 dollars. This goes for the variance on the deck and rooms that were short. A deck that was spec out at 9 wide by 40 long but only ends up being 8.5 wide by 40 long.. ends up being a loss I think of about 16 feet compared to what was budgeted. This is based on the home design plans that note for example a room is 14'7" wide by 14'long. I measured the room after completion and it was only 14' by 14'.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 7:48PM
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No home is actually priced by the square foot. That is a shorthand convenience for the homeowner to get a grip on costs. The cost of the home is what is in the contract. Period.

You really need to understand construction dimensions better. The nominal size is not the actual size of many things. A 2"x4" is only 1 1/2" by 3 1/2". Dimensions are measured from center of the stud wall to the center of the stud wall. Etc.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 8:05PM
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The discrepancy is not consistent so it is probably not due to a construction plan dimensioning convention. You would have to post an example for us to know what you are talking about. But your complaint would not be for square footage but for rooms that are not as large as you were promised if the drawings were included in your original agreement.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:13PM
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Shmomey, I don't think you have much of a case for getting any money back from the builder because your deck (or soemthing else) is 6" shorter than the drawings showed (if you are, in fact, reading the dimensions correctly and measuring correctly). Being out +/-6" is a pretty good job, considering all of the things that go into building a custom home. Better for you to just enjoy your new home.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:18PM
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Whether you can get a discount for the shortage probably hinges on your contract. It probably is not addressed.

On the commercial side, it is not uncommon to have a clause that adjusts the price in the event of SF shortage. Similarly, it is not uncommon when you require a minimum dimension to specify "hold this dimension".

You would think framing crews are precise in their measurements and practice, but they are not.

If you feel strongly and the contract is silent on the issue, discuss with your builder. If you still owe the builder, you may have a negotiating advantage.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:34PM
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James L. Backman Contracting

I think that it would be unreasonable to ask the builder for a reduction in price if a few rooms have less square footage than shown on the plans. However, if the overall square footage of the entire house is less than the plans, you might have a valid argument. I suggest that you check the length of the exterior walls around the perimeter of the house and, if they do not meet plans, ask the builder for an explanation. If they are per plans, then you have the total square footage that you are paying for even though the square footage of individual rooms varies somewhat.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 9:40PM
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The contract should not state the area of the house; it should reference the drawings and if the overall footprint of the house is clearly dimensioned on those drawings, that is what you own as lenback points out.

A house is dimensioned from the outer face of it's foundation so compare the as-built dimensions to the drawing dimensions. A settlement for breach of contract would not necessarily be based on a square foot value. If the discrepancy is large enough to suggest intentional fraud, the contractor will probably make you a good offer especially if you haven't already made the final payment.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 6:15AM
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"The deck is specd out at 9 feet wide and I measure 8.7 feet wide on a planned 9 wide by 40 long deck. Is it typical for the variance to be less than what was planned?"

The difference is about 3 inches ... which is just about what is buried under the studs and siding using the traditional centerline starting point for measuring.

If you absolutely had to have 9 clear feet, it would have been specified differently, probably as 9'4" or specified as "9 foot exposed".

As for the room that lost 7 inches ... were there any last minute changes during construction? Something as small as increasing a door size by 2 inches can make an entire wall shift a bit to get the studs and framing in the right spot. And with the foundation poured and the outer walls nailed to it, when something's gotta give, builders tend to protect hallway widths and take up the slack in room space.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 8:45AM
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The variation in the location of the foundation compared to the dimensions on the foundation drawings should not be more than an inch or two. If it is 6" or greater, it is a serious construction error that you should have been notified about at the time.

"The deck is specd out at 9 feet wide" sounds like a note on a preliminary drawing. Buildings are not built from preliminary design notes. What you own is what is actually dimensioned on the plans listed in your contract. The actual deck size would be determined by the dimension to the foundations on the foundation drawing and the projection of the framing and the decking would be dimensioned on a structural framing detail. Foundation piers often shift while concrete is being poured so if the discrepancy is not compensated for in the framing the deck size will be different. In bygone times a carpenter would find a way to make the deck the correct size but homeowners press contractors so hard to cut costs these days that few carpenters would even give it a thought. When I inspect a project it is often difficult to find the drawings they are using, and sometimes it is the preliminary or bid set instead of the permit set.

It's may not be true that you always get what you pay for but these days you certainly won't get what you didn't pay for.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 9:46AM
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You still have to pay for the square feet occupied by interior and exterior wall.

Even a 2x4 wall ends up at least 3.5 inches (stud) + 1 inch (two layers drywall) thick = 4.5 inches thick

Wet walls to accept large DWV lines are even thicker (they use 2x6s instead of 2x4s for studs).

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 1:14PM
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Also, look at your contract. Ours specified that dimensions could be altered by as much as 6" to permit more efficient use of materials. (eg an even number of sheets of whatever). That said, we planned for that in advance and I don't think anything is off by as much as a quarter inch. (We did panelized construction so wall sections were cut by a computer driven machine and assembled on a flat, level, dry surface--pretty slick, actually!)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 1:23PM
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I measured several rooms compared to the design plan and several were off by 5 to 8 inches per square footage per room.

If that's sq. inches, you were short-changed as much as .055555% on a 10'x10' room. (Presuming your measurements are accurate.) Unfortunately, most builders don't do measurements with callipers.

Under the mandatory Province wide warranty programme I build under, there is a leeway of 2% for square footage calculations. Whew!

This post was edited by worthy on Mon, Dec 10, 12 at 14:05

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 1:57PM
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