Skip to Content

Does A Basement Count As A Story

Does a 2 story house with basement count as a two-story house, or is it just a 1 story home with basement foundation and is considered a half-story? Such a question appears simple yet essential when evaluating a property’s value and livable space.

Traditionally, a floor is considered a story of an area that includes living space, like bedrooms, living rooms, or other habitable rooms.  However, the classification isn’t as straightforward if you have a new home with a basement.

Basements vary in their construction, features, and overall purpose.  Some basements come fully finished, with walls, ceilings, and all the amenities of a typical living space.  In such cases, these finished basements contribute to the total square footage of two full floors of the home, increasing its value and offering additional usable space.


However, unfinished basements, like finished walls or separate rooms, may lack the elements to be livable spaces.  These basements serve as storage areas or house mechanical systems. To even count basements as a story in a property’s assessment becomes a subject of debate.

Appraisers and professionals in the real estate world agree that finished basements with features and amenities can be counted as a story. In our guide, you can learn more about basement space and what it takes to make basement space count as a story. By the end, you’ll better understand why a finished basement space could be next on your home improvement projects, as it could dramatically increase your home’s value. (Learn How Long To Clamp Wood Glue)

What Is Considered A Two-Story House?

A two-story house is a residential building with two levels of living space above the ground floor.  The first floor is typically dedicated to common areas like the living room, dining area, and kitchen, while the bedrooms and bathrooms of the upper-level house.

However, there is some confusion about whether walkout basements count as a basement considered an additional two-story home. Note: An attic that has slanted walls may not be considered a full floor or considered a story, like a walkout basement considered a story if it lacks windows and doors, etc.

Does A Walkout Basement Count As A Story?

Walkout basements are often built into sloping lots with a door or window leading directly outside at ground or curb level above.  Whether a finished walkout basement counts as an additional story depends on local building codes and regulations.

How to Know My Finished Basement Counts As a Story

Many homeowners wonder whether their basement counts as a story regarding appraisals and real estate listings.  The answer is a simple question: if your basement has at least half of its height above ground level, it can be considered a story.

This means basements in split-level homes or raised ranches are often counted as stories. Appraisers agree that adding a basement to a home can increase its value significantly, especially if the space is finished and adds livable square footage.

However, not every finished basement count as a story for appraisal.  For example, if your basement has low ceilings or lacks proper egress windows for safety reasons, it may not be counted as living space. Most people say a two-story house with a full or partially finished basement will be considered a three-story home by appraisers and real estate professionals. (Read Building A House Timeline)

What Makes a House Two-Storied?

A two-storied house is a residential building with two floors or levels.  Most houses typically have two floors, a ground floor and an upper floor, accessible through stairs. The height of the ceilings on each level usually differs to allow for adequate headroom and ventilation. One common question asked about whether a basement counts as a story in a house depends on its usage, whether it’s fully finished and is habitable like other living spaces.

A fully finished basement may be another level or a story. It may be acceptable if it meets certain criteria like having proper egress windows, insulation, heating/cooling systems, electrical outlets, and light fixtures. However, a walkout basement without finished walls used primarily for storage space does not count as stories since they are not considered living spaces.

Is My Basement a Separate Story?

Regarding determining the value of a home, the number of stories is a crucial factor.  Many homeowners wonder if their unfinished basement should be considered a separate story when calculating the value of their property. The answer is not always clear-cut and depends on several factors.

One key consideration is the ceiling height in the above basement space.  If the ceiling height meets local building codes and is at least seven feet high, it may be considered a livable space and might be counted as a different story when appraising the home’s value.

However, if the ceiling gross living area is lower than seven feet or does not meet building codes, it cannot be livable and would not add to the overall square footage or story count. Another vital factor is how much of your basement is below grade.  If more than half of your basement’s walls are underground, it cannot be counted as a full story because it cannot access natural light and ventilation as other levels in your home do.

Ultimately, whether your basement counts as a full floor or a separate story will depend on these and other factors specific to your property, so it’s best to consult an experienced real estate professional for guidance.

Is a Basement Included in a Building’s Square Footage?

Including a basement in a building’s square footage has been debated for quite some time. Most basements are not counted as part of the building’s square footage. However, walkout basements may be an exception to this rule, as they can be accessed from the outside and have natural light.

Most basements are not included in square footage because they are below-grade space. This means they do not meet the industry standards for livable space because they lack natural light and ventilation.

Basements serve more practical purposes, like storage space or housing mechanical components. However, walkout basements may count towards a building or home’s square footage since they feature full-height windows or doors that allow natural light into the space.

They also provide direct access to outdoor spaces like patios or decks, making them more desirable living areas than traditional below-grade spaces.  Ultimately, it is up to individual appraisers or organizations like ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to determine whether a basement should be included in a building’s total square footage. (Learn How To Fix Negative Grading)

what makes it livable

What Makes A Basement Livable Space?

There are several key factors to consider when determining whether gross living area in a basement counts as a livable space.  The first is the overall condition of the basement itself – is it dry, clean, and free from any signs of mold or water damage? If so, then it may be suitable for use as living quarters.

Another important consideration is the layout and accessibility of the rest of the space.  Does the bedroom above it has windows that allow for natural light and ventilation? Is there a separate entrance or exit that makes it easy to come and go without disturbing other household members? (Learn How To Make A Fake Window)

Sometimes, your house type may also impact whether your basement can be used as a livable space.  For example, two-story homes with basements may be more conducive to this type of use than ranch-style homes where the basement may be partially below ground level.  Ultimately, what makes a basement livable depends on various factors unique to ranch home and each situation.

Does A Basement Count As A Story (2)