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Professional Standards Manual

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2. Acting For Sellers

(c) Property Measurements

(i) Computation of Square Area

Licensees should be aware that a common area of complaint is inaccurate measurement of property. Caution is recommended when measuring any type of property.

(ii) Measurement of Single-Family Homes

One area that causes ongoing problems for licensees is the calculation of single-family dwelling square footage and room measurements. Particularly troublesome areas for measuring are oddly-shaped rooms, upper-storey rooms that are under the slope of the roof, and basement areas.

There is more than one standard that can be applied. In making measurements, it is important that licensees be consistent with how they are typically done for the particular market and for the given property type.

As an example, one such standard is as follows:

Floor Area:

Floor area calculations are based on the exterior dimensions of the building at each floor level and include all interior walls. For attached units, the outside dimension is the centre line of the common walls. Internal room dimensions aren’t used in this system of measuring, other than to net out such areas as garages that are part of the footprint of the structure.

Finished Area:

Finished area is defined as ‘‘an enclosed area in a house suitable for year-round use, embodying walls, floors, and ceilings that are similar to the rest of the house’’. Measurements must be taken to the nearest inch or tenth of a foot, and floor area must be reported to the nearest square foot. Garages are specifically excluded.

Generally, when indicating room sizes, all bedrooms, the living room, dining room, kitchen, eating area, family room, den and special-use rooms (such as the laundry room, finished and heated workshop, playrooms, etc.), must be measured. Bathrooms, hallways, foyers and stairways are not usually measured unless they represent special features of the house or are of a significant size.

Some interior dimensions may be of particular importance to certain buyers who have specific furniture which must fit comfortably within the confines of a room. If aware of these specific requirements, the buyer’s agent should, for certainty, independently undertake to verify the measurements provided by the listing agent.

Some licensees, as part of their due diligence in taking a new listing, have found it useful to engage a company that specializes in measuring properties.

(iii) Measurement of Strata Lots

Developers, in order to increase the apparent size of strata lots, have in many cases included areas such as balconies, large patios, and even parking stalls in the strata lot measurements. When obtaining these figures from the Land Title Office, licensees should study the plan for the strata lot for any qualifying descriptions. For example, a square area measurement will be indicated on the strata lot; however, occasionally there is a statement on the plans to the effect that, ‘‘Areas shown within lots are total areas, including patios, carports, and storage rooms’’. In that event, it is necessary to search further. The licensee should find the plans giving the measurements for the ‘‘included’’ areas and deduct these areas from that shown on the strata lot. This will provide buyers with a correct area of the living accommodation.

In general, it is preferable to define a strata lot by reference to the walls of the building. Any area outside a strata lot which is for the private use of the owner of that strata lot may be regulated, either having been designated by the strata corporation as limited common property (LCP) or its use governed by a Short-Term Exclusive Use Agreement. A Short-Term Exclusive Use Agreement may provide for the exclusive use of a part of the common property by a strata lot owner or tenant on certain terms and, in some cases, conditions. The seller cannot assign a Short-Term Exclusive Use Agreement to a buyer without the consent of the strata corporation. For further information regarding LCP and Short-Term Exclusive Use Agreements, see index headings for Limited Common Property and Short-Term Exclusive Use Agreements.

The strata lot itself is usually defined by the area resulting from measurements taken from the centre line of the demising walls. In multilevel strata lots, the area of each floor would be added. This area should coincide with the square area of the strata lot as represented in the Strata Plan and, if confusion exists, the figures may be obtained from the Land Title Office.

In advertising or representations made by licensees about the size of a strata lot, it is suggested that the square area of the strata lot, together with any exclusive-use areas that have been designated LCP for that strata lot, be set out in similar manner to the following example:

Strata lot of 1,400 square feet and the exclusive use of balcony, large patio and two parking spaces which have been designated as limited common property.

Such a statement clearly defines for the buyer what is being offered and eliminates much of the confusion existing in measurement of strata lots. Due to the uncertainty about continuing use, care must be taken about any reference to common property that is the subject of a Short-Term Exclusive Use Agreement.

**Alert**

The measurements and square footages of strata lots obtained from plans on file in the Land Title Office have occasionally been found to be incorrect. This can occur, for example, when a builder, for some reason during the construction process, deviates from the original set of plans filed with the Land Title Office in the initial approval and registration stage. Licensees should check all measurements obtained from the Land Title Office by physically measuring the strata unit. Licensees should always declare the source of measurements, both in the listing and sales contracts. Quoting measurements from inaccurate plans has been the cause of some licensees incurring substantial financial damages.

(iv) Measurement of Commercial Properties

[04/03/2012 The following information replaced previous information on measurement of commercial properties]

Commercial properties primarily consist of industrial warehouse, retail and office space. Licensees involved in establishing floor measurements of commercial properties should be aware of the numerous measurement methods available.

Survey records should be available describing the legal lot and the placement of the building situated on the lot. The size (either metric or imperial) of the perimeter of the building is also included in the survey. For a multi-level building, the size should be described for all levels, including below grade. This is sometimes referred to as Construction Area, Gross Building Area or Exterior Gross Area. In general terms, these descriptions reflect the square footage of the building based on perimeter measurements. Review the legal survey notes to determine the treatment of space, such as Balcony, Terrace, Deck, Roof Terrace and Loading Bay areas. Should the legal survey be outdated or unreadable concerning the building measurements, an alternative approach, such as a recent Architectural Design Drawing, Construction Drawings, Working Drawings or Building Plans, can be used so long as the measurements are verified and deemed reliable. Caution must be applied since concept drawings do not necessarily reflect the existing “true built” condition.

In the event the parties agree to a full building spatial audit for the purposes of determining total leasable area, then several other options are available. The Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA) publishes six Measurement Standards to help a cross section of commercial real estate professionals. As well, the BOMA BC Office or their website, www.boma.bc.ca, can provide resources and publications with information concerning area measurements and calculations, and is recommended by the Council. BOMA Measurement Standards are known for their consistency and also the thoroughness of addressing all forms of space within a building.

When referring to the square footage of the leasable area of the property, it should be disclosed as to the source for this data and how it was determined. Should the method of measurement be absent of any recognized Measurement Standard, refer to the Lease Agreement for any specific description, or guideline, within the Agreement that establishes a procedure to determine the leasable area. If such guidelines exist, carefully consider the wording in declaring the square footage. Using ambiguous terms, such as “Gross Rent” or “Total Net Lease”, etc., can result in confusion due to the wide range of definitions used in the industry.

The Common Areas described in the Lease Agreement may be classified into two distinct forms; one for the share of common areas referencing all areas within the building itself, and the other concerns the Common Area amenities related to exterior space, such as landscaping, parking, waste containers, etc. Common Areas outside of the building area are rarely incorporated into the Leasable Area and are typically addressed to clarify other maintenance and tax expenses. The current rent roll should be examined and may reveal the square footage that the current rent rate is based upon. The rent roll typically describes the square footage and rent rates for each of the tenanted areas. It may also include detailed adjustment factors for the pro-rated share of common areas.

Due to the complexities in preparing the disclosure of reliable leasable space for commercial properties, the Council recommends a Registered Land Surveyor or a Professional Measurement Service with proven knowledge, experience and expertise in this area to provide assistance when necessary.