International Property Measurement Standard Ends Confusion

Steven Batchelor
Historically, the measurement of property assets has varied considerably from country to country. New international standards guidance is now available - good news for investors, developers, property users and occupiers.

In the Middle East, consistency in property measurement is problematic throughout the design, construct and asset lifecycle. Varying international industry standards are reflected in individual influences and preferences in a diverse and transient workforce (our own 500 staff originate from more than 20 countries), and exacerbated by project size and volume. Significant disparity in measurement could have a damaging impact on the ownership, use and management of properties and portfolios.

In our industry for example, we often see references to square feet or square metres, built-up areas (BUA) within project design information, which can lead to variances in area quantities due to individual's interpretations. Whereas, as the first Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) regulated business in the region, our adopted method of measuring building areas is gross floor area (GFA) m2, as per the RICS Code of Measurement guidelines, and is a fully transparent and defined measurement principle. The undefined BUA can include many components outside of the living or working space such as: balconies, parking, water features etc. Being open to various interpretation by the developer, consultant, agent or purchaser, can result in a lack of transparency in the proposed or built asset usable areas or valuations and cause costly disputes.

...RICS are collaborating with 73 professional bodies to produce the International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS) suite of documents. 

To address inconsistency in property evaluation, not just in this region but globally, RICS are collaborating with 73 professional bodies to produce the International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS) suite of documents. The first was IPMS: Office Buildings (2014) and mandated by the Dubai government for all their commercial projects. To date, no other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) government or local authority has implemented this publication's rules and guidelines.

Standards to be Included in Measurement Reports

IPMS: Office Buildings (2014) stipulates the following standards should be included in measurement reports; measurement calculations must be clearly documented and the following stated:

  • Which IPMS standard used i.e. IPMS 1, 2 or 3
  • Method of Measurement (Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD), Building Information Modeling (BIM), site etc.)
  • Unit of Measurement (noting not all countries follow decimal measurement)
  • Measurement Tolerance (percent allowance)
  • Date of the Measurement

This ensures transparency in measurement methodology, at design stage or during occupancy, and reduces miscommunications or costly disputes.

Three Measurement Standards:

IPMS: Office Buildings (2014) identifies three measurement standards:

  1. IPMS 1 is used for measurement of the building area, including external walls, but excluding open well lights, upper level voids, external stairwells that are not an integral part of the structure i.e. steel framed fire escape, patios or desks on ground level, external car parking, equipment yards and refuse areas. IPMS 1 measurement standards are required for planning purposes and/or costing of development proposals.
  2. IPMS 2 is used for measuring the interior area and categorising the use of space in an office building. Component areas include but are not limited to workspace, amenities, circulation areas, hygiene areas, technical services (plant rooms, lift motor rooms etc.). IPMS 2 measurement standards are required for asset managers, brokers, cost consultants, facilities managers, occupiers, owners, property managers, and researchers / property valuers.
  3. IPMS 3 is used for measurement occupation of floor(s) area(s). This is for single or multi-occupancy commercial facilities, noting shared facilities are excluded from the measured areas. IPMS 3 measurement standards are required for agents, occupiers, asset managers, facilities managers, property managers, and researchers / property valuers.

Faithful+Gould is advising Dubai clients with stakes in commercial office investments/developments of the requirement to use IPMS 1 and IPMS 2, for developers' feasibilities and cost planning through the design stages. Cost data on all our Dubai office buildings projects since implementation of these measurement rules is in accordance with these defined rules of measurement, giving accurate benchmarking to the new standards, and enabling our clients to make informed decisions on their investments.

Following on from the publishing of the IPMS: Office Buildings, consultation between the industry leaders with regards to the IPMS: Residential Buildings ended in April 2016, with draft issued.

Following on from the publishing of the IPMS: Office Buildings, consultation between the industry leaders with regards to the IPMS: Residential Buildings ended in April 2016, with draft issued. Dubai is expected to champion this standard, bringing much needed transparency to the economically important residential market. We can then look forward to the forthcoming IPMS: Industrial Buildings and IPMS: Retail Buildings, which will bring further benefits to the region.

Faithful+Gould implements the highest industry standards in our service delivery, being the region's first RICS regulated business. We use RICS rules and formats for measurements, such as Code of Measuring Practice, Principles of Measurement International (POMI), New Rules of Measurement (NRM1, 2 and 3) plus the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS), as standard for our feasibilities, cost plans and bills of quantities. Our clients benefit from this consistent approach, which creates a common language across multiple global regions.

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