MiniSplits and GLA

So, you find a large Bonus Room above the garage and it is heated and cooled with a large hotel type system mounted in the wall. You wonder to yourself, is this space the same as if it had a traditional heat pump with vents in the floor or ceiling? The owner tells you “we put this unit in because it was so much cheaper than putting in a heat pump and for the room upstairs it really doesn’t matter if we lose a little wall space.” So, is this a question of whether we count this space as GLA or heated living area, or do we just think of it as a quality difference and make an adjustment for the difference between having a heat pump and vents vs a wall mounted minisplit? Wonder how we could prove that adjustment, cost difference? Does the typical buyer pay less for this house because the minisplit heats and cools the bonus room?

What about these two examples – each upper level has one wall-mounted HVAC unit. The one on top is a Bonus Room. The upper level on the bottom has two bedrooms, a full bathroom, a hallway and a play space. Are both spaces considered GLA? ANSI only says a space has to be “suitable for year round use.” Is the space on the bottom equal to the main level living area with a traditional heat pump or gas system?

Sure, this is a loaded question. Any time I ask this question I get bombarded with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Of course, a true minisplit system has a similar definition to a heat pump, each was an interior and exterior unit. But, there is a big difference between spaces that have different heating/cooling methods. When I think of a $400,000 house, I don’t see a minisplit as being “typical” in that market, with a lot of “it depends” in between. Where do we draw the line? Ask ten different buyers and you’ll get 10 different answers. These systems are becoming more prevalent in certain markets and appraisers need to find a way to handle these spaces consistently.

If appraisers can’t agree on these spaces, how are consumers going to be protected? What’s fair? It depends on whom you ask… Who do you think should make the “rule?”

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