When Size Matters: The Guide for the Measurement of Residential Properties

Emma Hunter-Hills

Recently a collaborative effort between the Property Council of New Zealand and the Property Institute of New Zealand has seen the release of a new and innovative tool in the residential property market. That tool is the Guide for the Measurement of Residential Properties (the Guide); the Guide provides an impartial and standardised mechanism for measuring the floor space in residential buildings, a first of its kind in New Zealand.

This article gives an overview of the Guide and should be useful for any of the following categories of people: buyers of residential property, sellers of residential property, real estate agents, insurers, architects, quantity surveyors, valuers, the construction and development sector, banks, other lenders, government and regulatory bodies in the residential property market.

A simple google search will result in a number of different sites all with “how to measure your house” guides, many of the calculations provided are similar but not the same Therein lies the confusion; should the floor size be calculated on the internal or external dimension, or halfway through the wall and what areas are included- decks, balconies, common areas, attics etc.  A standardised method for measuring the area of residential properties gives consistency to the market, promoting a level playing field and improving confidence, particularly for normal everyday people.

The Guide is intended to apply to all types of residential properties; single dwellings, semi-detached dwellings, townhouses and apartments and allows for measurements of all areas but usefully differentiates between ‘exclusive use occupation areas’ and other areas.

Measurements for all spaces are to be taken at 1.5 metres above floor level unless stated otherwise. Those areas that are ‘exclusive use occupation areas’ are to be measured to:

The following areas are to be included in the measurements provided for residential properties but measured and identified separately to the exclusive use occupation areas: balconies and decks, verandas and pergolas, garages, carports, attics, cellars and separate storage areas.

There is one last category of areas that are excluded from the areas of residential properties but that can be measured and stated separately. This category includes (but isn’t limited to) areas of open light wells or upper levels of atriums, patios at ground level that do not form part of the building structure, open stairways that are not an integral part of the building structure (e.g. a fire escape), external car parking and other ground level areas that are not fully enclosed.

Adoption of the Guide across the board will hopefully lead to increased certainty and productivity in the provision and utilisation of residential space, which should benefit all people and businesses having involvement in the residential property sector.

If there is anything contained in this article that you would like to discuss further please do not hesitate to contact David Smillie or Emma Hunter-Hills.