Changing how Square Footage is Calculated

Reference Number: KB-00424
Last Modified: July 16, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors


In my area, the square footage of a structure is measured from the exterior of a wall rather than from the floor platform.  How do I obtain the square footage, measured from the exterior of the wall, using Chief Architect?


The Living Area should not be mistaken for the footprint of the house. Only true livable areas are included in the Living Area calculation. By default, exterior and hybrid room types are not included.

Living Area is measured from either the outside surface of the wall or the outer surface of the Main Layer of exterior walls. When walls separate the living area from exterior or hybrid room types, it is measured to the wall center line.

Note: Room types that are not included in the Living Area calculation are: Attic, Court, Deck, Garage, Open Below, and Porch.

Starting in Chief Architect X3, regardless of its room type, you can specify whether a room is included in the Living Area calculation in the Room Specification dialog.

There are two ways to calculate the square footage from the exterior of the structure instead.  The first calculates the Living Area by excluding the room types above;  the second method allows you to calculate the total area of the footprint of the plan.

To calculate the Living Area

  1. Go the the floor of which would like to calculate the Living Area.  

  2. Select Edit> Default Settings  from the menu.

  3. From the list, click on the word Plan to highlight it, then click the Edit button to display the General Plan Defaults dialog.

  4. In the Living Area section near the bottom of the dialog, move the the radio button next to Surface, then click OK to close the dialog and return to the Default Settings dialog.

  5. Click the Done button to close Default Settings dialog, as well, and apply your change. 

  6. The Living Area label for this floor will now reflect the square footage of the current floor, excluding any Attic, Court, Deck, Garage, Open Below or Porch rooms.  

To calculate the area of the plan's footprint

  1. Go the the floor that you would like to calculate the Living Area of.  

  2. Click the Select Objects  button, then click just outside of an exterior wall in your plan.  

    • The entire exterior area of the plan will highlight, indicating that the "exterior room" has been selected.  

    • If you are unable to select the Exterior room try pressing the Tab key on your keyboard to cycle the selection through nearby objects.

    • You can confirm that the exterior room is selected by clicking the Open Object  edit button.  The Room Specification dialog for the exterior room only has two tabs:  the Wall Covering and Materials tabs.  

  3. With the exterior room selected, click the Make Room Polyline  edit button to create a polyline that follows the exterior surfaces of the exterior walls

  4. With the exterior room polyline selected, click the Open Object  edit button.   

  5. On the Polyline panel of the Polyline Specification dialog:  

    • The Area of the polyline is provided in square feet.  

    • Make a note of this area value, then click Cancel to close the dialog without making any changes.  

  6. Select CAD> Text> Text  from the menu, then click once in your drawing area to open the Text Specification dialog.  

    • In the Text field, type the Area value of the polyline noted in step 6, above, as well as any additional information that you would like to include with the square footage of the floor.  

    • Click OK to close the dialog and create a text object noting the total area of the current floor of your plan.