Measuring a Basement

As you can see, there is a lot of potential living space in an unfinished basement. How much space exactly? Let’s find out. Grab some paper, a pencil, and a tape measure (25 foot is best).

The first measurement you want is the length of all space under your main floor whether it currently has access or not. (I’ll cover estimating non-access space below.) As many unfinished basements aren’t square, you may need to get the lengths at various locations.

Next, measure and record the widths. Even if your basement seems to be of a single width, measure it in numerous locations and you may find that it varies slightly.

Remodeling Words

A square foot is an area 1 foot long by 1 foot wide. That’s easy. However, calculating square feet (abbreviated sq. ft.)of an basement area can be more difficult. It’s easy to calculate the square footage of a basement that’s 20 by 24 feet (480 sq. ft.), but what do you do if basement varies in width and length? You break the space up into squares and rectangles, calculate the square footage of each area then add them all up. For initial planning, an approximate square footage is sufficient. However, as you start finishing your basement you’ll want exact measurements and size.

Earlier in this section I covered the height requirements of habitable space. In some cases you’ll need to calculate the total space in cubic feet. Some building contractors and suppliers estimate cost of materials and construction based on cubic feet. Also, cubic content is used when estimating the cost of installing heating, lighting, and ventilation systems.

Remodeling Words

A cubic foot is an area 1 foot long by 1 foot wide by 1 foot high or deep. It’s 1 square foot in the third dimension. A cubic foot is 1,729 cubic inches. A cubic yard (3 X 3 X 3) is 27 cubic feet.

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