Definition of Terms

Daylight Basement

Also known as a "walkout." Typically found in houses built on lots which slope down from the front of the house to the rear. The daylight basement frequently uses a sliding glass door or French doors to provide ground level access to the rear yard.


A dormer is a projection from the roof of a house that adds usable space. Dormers may be finished or unfinished living area. Dormers typically appear on the front of a house as single ("window") dormers. Dormers on the rear of a house are listed by size in increments such as 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or Full.

Above Grade Living Area Total Square Feet

Above Grade Living Area Total Sq. Ft. represents the finished above grade living area in a house. It does not include unfinished areas, the area occupied by a cathedral ceiling, enclosed non-living areas such as garages and enclosed porches, or basement area or finished basement living space.

Room Count

The total number of finished rooms, including finished basement rooms. Does not include bathrooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms, or foyers.

Bedroom Count

The total number of bedrooms in the house, including the basement. A room must have a fire escape (window or door) to qualify as a bedroom on the assessment record.

Bathroom Count

Half baths include a sink and toilet only. Full baths include at least a sink, shower, and toilet. Counts include basement bathrooms in the total bathroom count.

Fireplace Count

The number of fireplaces in a house, including the basement. A fireplace with a single firebox which has openings in two different rooms is counted as one fireplace. A gas fireplace with the interior appearance of a wood-burning fireplace (a brick or marble hearth and brick, marble, or wood front, for example) is counted as one fireplace. Free-standing wood-burning stoves are not counted.

Basement Finish

The finished rooms in the basement level of a house. These may include recreation rooms (identified by the square footage of the basement they occupy), bedrooms, or dens. Other finished basement room types such as offices and game rooms are placed within one of these categories.

Effective Year Built

An effective year built is listed when a house is completely gutted and rebuilt. In general,the effective year built takes precedence over the year built in the determination of assessed value.

Quality and Condition:

Classification of property into construction quality and physical condition categories is a subjective decision and is based on a number of factors. However, great emphasis is placed on assigning a construction quality and condition that places the subject property within uniformity with similar houses and that allows for proper reflection of its market value. The following information contains some of the basic evaluation criteria used to establish these ratings.

Residential properties are divided into six construction quality categories: Commercial Grade, Average, Good, Excellent, Luxury, and Mansion. There are also plus modifiers within each category (i.e., Good 10). The complete listing of construction quality follows:

  • Commercial Grade
  • Average
  • Average 10
  • Good
  • Good 10
  • Good 20
  • Excellent
  • Excellent 10
  • Excellent 20
  • Excellent 30
  • Luxury
  • Luxury 10
  • Luxury 20
  • Luxury 30
  • Mansion
  • Mansion 10
  • Mansion 20
  • Mansion 30
Commercial Grade properties are generally older dwellings built prior to the adoption of modern building codes. They are usually of simple shape and contain little ornamentation. The Average category covers many standard tract-built houses. These are built to at least minimum building code standards and the quality of materials and workmanship is acceptable. Good category houses are typically found in better quality tract developments or can be designed for an individual owner. The shape of the structure is generally somewhat more complex than the Average category and good quality standard materials are used throughout. The Excellent category covers properties in higher end subdivisions or standard custom houses. Excellent properties have a higher level of design and materials when compared to Good. Luxury properties are typically individually designed custom houses and exhibit very high standards of design, materials, finish, and workmanship. Mansion quality is reserved for outstanding properties and is applied to houses with the finest levels of design, materials, craftsmanship, and detailing.

In addition to construction quality, residential properties are divided into five condition categories: Good, Average Plus, Average, Fair, and Poor. A property is considered to be in Good condition if the kitchen and master bath or a majority of baths have been fully remodeled (i.e. installation of new cabinets, counter tops, flooring, fixtures, etc. in the kitchen and new vanity, sink, fixtures, flooring, commode, wainscot etc. in the baths). An Average Plus category is applied to properties that have had only one component, kitchen or bath(s), remodeled. Should the additional component be remodeled at a later date, the condition may be upgraded to Good. Good or Average Plus condition ratings will remain on the record until the market no longer perceives the added value of the remodel. The county reviews valid sales data annually in order to determine how many years the market place perceives added value for remodeling. Average condition refers to condition that is typical for a property of its age. The property will show signs of normal wear and tear for a property of its age. It is applied to new properties and older properties that have been maintained on a regular basis. Fair condition is used to describe properties with extensive deferred maintenance or wear and tear beyond what is typical for a property of its age. The property has a shortened life expectancy due to physical deterioration. Poor condition is used to describe properties with significant structural or safety issues. These properties would have limited value in their current condition. The property is near the end of its physical life and requires major repairs or reconstruction.

Please note that construction quality and condition are independently determined. For example, an older property may have a high quality of original construction, yet have received little or no maintenance or updating and also have serious foundation damage. In this case, the classification may be Excellent for construction but Poor for condition.

Split Foyer

Split-foyer style houses are identified by a front entrance which is located midway between the upper and lower floors. Finished rooms in the lower level are listed under the Basement Finish section on these property records.


Bi-level style houses have a front entrance on the lower level and typically have the exterior appearance of a two-story, but are usually built into a site which slopes up from front to back. These houses have the kitchen, living room, dining room, and some bedrooms on the upper level. Finished rooms in the lower level are listed under the Basement Finish section on these property records.


Split-level style houses are those containing multiple levels which alternate from side to side or front to back. The Department of Tax Administration counts levels that are fully above grade on the typical split level when listing the number of levels.
For example, this sample photo is identified as a "2L" or 2 level split level. The right side of the house has a lower level that is partly in the ground. This side of the house is identified as a 1 story with basement section. The left side has no basement in this example. It is identified as a 1 story no basement section. Basement finish is described the same as any other style house.

Finished Area Over Unfinished Area

A finished area over an unfinished area is a room or rooms above an unfinished area of the house. For example, a room over a garage is considered a finished area over an unfinished area.


Sometimes called a cantilever. An overhang is a projection from one of the main levels of a house that adds to the finished floor space.

Map Number

Fairfax County maps are arranged by map page, then quadrant within the page, then by double circle, then by single circle (if it exists), and then by parcel number. For the property ID 0193 10 0045, the map is 019, the quadrant of the map is 3, the double circle is 10, there is no single circle, and the parcel number is 0045.