Code of Measuring Practice: How Many Square Feet Is Your Office?

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Code of Measuring Practice

IPMS – International Property Measurement Standards

In November 2014, the International Property Measurement Standards Coalition (IPMSC) launched a new code of measuring practice IPMS. The International Property Measurement Standards aim to unify the way real estate is measured across markets globally to enhance the transparency and consistency. Let me explain why adopting IPMS measurement code is of paramount importance.

RICS Code Of Measuring Practice

Many mature property markets implement a measurement code. I for example, followed the RICS Code of Measuring Practice when I worked as an office agent in the UK. Using the RICS measuring code meant that when a property was leased everyone concerned knew exactly what was included in the lease price. Now working in the UAE, which doesn’t implement measurement codes so stringently and with many different codes of measurement practice adopted, I now see how valuable a uniformly adopted code such as the RICS system was.

Why Code of Measuring Practice is so important?

This graphic shows how 10,000 sqft can be a different floor area depending on which measuring code is adopted.

International Property Measurement Standards

Currently when a landlord purchases from a developer he agrees to buy the gross floor area, wall to wall as it were. Then, when time comes to lease the property he will, in many cases, refer to the title deed and offer terms on the same area he purchased. A transaction will be negotiated with a prospective tenant. If the tenant doesn’t measure the area he has leased, he may find himself with 870 out of the 1000 sq. ft. promised. How? Floors don’t shrink.

The gross floor area offered by the developer will include everything in the building such as public corridors, shared bathrooms, and electrical and or janitorial rooms. The actual net usable area for an office is not the total area measured but comprises, as the name suggests, just the usable areas such as the office space, internal kitchen and meeting room. In reality, the tenant may not realise that they were paying for the extra space included in the gross area measurement. Anecdotally I can inform you that there are companies in Dubai that have discovered ‘losses’ of up to 5,000 sq. ft. when leasing large areas which is a significant shortfall.

In April 2015 the Dubai Land Department stated that adopting IPMS code of measurement would be a “long and complex process”, so we are aware that implementation is coming. However, rather than waiting for government regulation, the use of IPMS can be adopted voluntarily by progressive landlords looking to achieve best practice industry leading standards. Currently any landlord can use the system to measure a property. Doing so will ensure that property is measured in a consistent way, creating a more transparent marketplace, greater occupier trust, stronger investor confidence, increased market stability and quicker decision making in transactions by providing reliable data.

The view from the RICS Code

Equipping and positioning RICS professionals as the preeminent experts in the delivery of IPMS is a priority. The RICS are promoting the value of IPMS to end users including occupiers, investors and developers in all markets around the world. We are also helping them to understand the benefits to their business of consistent, internationally-adopted standards for property measurement.

In fact, some enlightened developers in the UAE have already started using IPMS code of measurement practice such as ICD Brookfield who are developing an iconic new development called ICD Brookfield Place DIFC. ICD Brookfield Place will deliver International Grade A office space which will be LEED Gold rated and built to exceed the BCO and Middle East Council for Offices (MECO) Guidelines.

Mandatory enforcement by a regulatory body would encourage quicker widespread usage in the UAE bringing some much needed transparency to the commercial real estate market. And once you know your exact office size, read our next blog post about efficient office designs which talks about collaborative and flexible office designs to aid efficiency.

Major international companies looking to establish regional headquarters are familiar with using code of measurement standards elsewhere. Adopting international standards provides multinational tenants with greater confidence and would make leasing office space in Dubai as straightforward as it is in other global centres.

  • Read more about the new code of measuring practice IPMS.
  • The RICS Property Measurement (1st Edition) updates the RICS Code of Measuring Practice 6th edition and incorporates International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS).
Toby Hall

Author: Toby Hall

Toby is part of JLL’s MENA Agency team and is Head of Office Leasing in for the UAE. He is a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and is a registered broker in Dubai with The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA). Toby has over twelve years of experience in Office Leasing focusing on Landlord Representation in Central London, Hanoi, Vietnam and in the UAE

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