You may be surprised that measurement variations across different world markets can be as high as 24%, according to JLL http://ipmsc.org/. Standards for measuring buildings vary enormously, with some jurisdictions including common space such as lifts and hallways in floor area measurements and others even including swimming pools and car parks. All this inconsistency and uncertainty could soon be a thing of the past however, with the recent publication of the International Property Measurement Standards: Office Buildings. The IPMS is the product of 18 months of work by a coalition of over 50 organisations across the globe, with the aim of standardising measurement practice internationally.

RICS’s Ken Creighton, who chaired the coalition, hopes that IPMS will address the marked inconsistencies in the way offices are measured around the world. IPMS notes that phrases to describe office floor area such as rentable, usable, leasable, net internal, net lettable and carpet area, mean different things in different markets, which leads to confusion.

IPMS: Office Buildings sets out three standards of measurement to be used for different purposes:

  • IPMS 1 – a measurement of the external area of a building.  The IPMS coalition considers this is likely to be used for planning purposes or the costing of development proposals.  IPMS 1 is to apply to all types of building (not just offices) and comprises the sum of the areas of each floor level of a building measured to the outer perimeter of external construction features, and will be reported on a floor-by-floor basis.
  • IPMS 2 – Offices – a measurement of the interior area and reported on a component by component basis for each floor of a building.  “Components” are the main elements into which the floor area of a building can be divided (for example circulation areas, amenities, workspace and structural elements).
  • IPMS 3 – Offices – a measurement of occupation of floor areas in exclusive use, and comprises the floor area available on an exclusive basis to an occupier but excluding standard facilities and shared circulation areas, and calculated either on an occupier-by-occupier or floor-by-floor basis.  “Standard facilities” are the shared or common parts of the building that typically do not change over time (such as stairs, lifts, plant rooms and toilets).

RICS has committed to using the new standard and it is expected to publish its IPMS-compliant guidance in March 2015. The IPMS are freely available on the website.  And rather than resting on its laurels, the same committee has already begun work on an IPMS for residential.