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Measuring Offices – Its all change

Thursday, January 21, 2016 By Neil Cooper MRICS

The New Year has seen changes in how we are to measure offices and report on floor areas. The changes are documented in the RICS Property Measurement (1st Edition) and came into mandatory effect on 1 January 2016. Prior to 2016 net internal floor area was the standard, adopted basis of measurement for valuation and agency purposes. Whilst the old bases can be retained for a transitional period such floor areas will now need to be reported together with, not instead of, the new areas.

There are now 3 bases of measurement for offices which vary dependent on the work being undertaken :-

IPMS1 – this is to be used for planning applications or the summary costing of development proposals. It is similar to gross external floor area as we currently know it although in addition includes the area of external balconies and generally accessible rooftop terraces. These however will need to be separately stated.

IPMS2 – this basis of measurement is to be used for categorising the use of space in an office building by asset managers, occupiers etc in order to provide data on the efficient use of space and for bench marking. It will also be used when costing the construction of offices and in reinstatement cost calculations. The floor area of the building will be divided into 8 ‘component areas’ (A to H) plus limited use areas (those areas which cannot be used for normal purposes due to legislation or physical restraints). The total of the 9 will produce the IPMS2. Effectively this is gross internal floor area as we currently know it but will include internal and external balconies and rooftop terraces (as above) and additionally window areas where they take up more than 50% of the face of the wall area they cover. All but the window areas are to be stated separately.

IPMS3 – this is perhaps the most relevant of the 3 as it now forms the basis for valuation and agency (letting and sale) purposes. Similar to net internal floor area, toilets, staircases and plant rooms etc are excluded. There are however differences with the internal faces of windows (as referred to under IPMS2 above), areas under 1.5m headroom, internal structural walls/columns and balconies and rooftop terraces (as IPMS2) all included in the total area, albeit some separately identified.

The reason for the change is to ensure a single basis of measurement globally. They are accordingly in line with the International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS). Further changes will follow in due course governing the calculation of floor areas on industrial, retail and residential use properties to further this integration.

In my opinion, it is likely the office marketplace for sales and lettings in the UK will continue to use net internal floor area until otherwise forced to do so.

For further information please contact Neil Cooper on 01293 401040 or email