A New Floor-Measurement Standard

July 10, 2009
BOMA now has a new floor-measurement standard to determine the gross areas of a building

As I’ve become more involved with BOMA Intl. and begin my term as BOMA chairman, I’ve been awed by the breadth of activities that BOMA is known for: from advocacy to The Office Building of the Year (TOBY) program, and from timely education and research to The Every Building Show. But, if there’s one thing BOMA does that impacts everyone across the real estate industry, it’s floor-measurement standards.

Floor measurements for buildings are an integral part of any management or ownership regimen. Floor-measurement standards provide building owners and managers with the ability to communicate and compute on a clear, uniform basis. Standards also allow the comparison of values on the basis of an agreed-upon method of measurement. Real estate professionals are familiar with BOMA’s Standard Method for Measuring Floor Area in Office Buildings. This longstanding marquee has provided the basis for leases and other management purposes since 1915.

But, as times change, the nature of real estate and the types and uses of buildings have evolved, and BOMA continues to work to fill any gaps. BOMA now has a new floor-measurement standard to determine the gross areas of a building. The new standard – The Gross Areas of a Building: Methods of Measurement – offers two ways to determine gross area. The new standard is intended for buildings containing all types of occupancies, including office, retail, industrial, single and multi-unit residential, hospitality, entertainment, and institutional buildings, both private and public. The two methods provided in the standard can be applied to new and existing buildings containing single or multiple stories that are either owner occupied or leased to one or multiple tenants.

BOMA Intl. developed these two methods to clearly define the two gross areas of a building: the construction gross area and the exterior gross area. The larger measure of the two gross areas – construction gross area – includes the area defined as exterior gross area, as well as other areas that have a structural floor, or are covered by a roof or canopy, that are typically unenclosed, but within the building perimeter. The exterior gross area – the second method – is the total floor area contained within the measure line.

These procedures for measuring the gross area not only serve the interests of property owners and managers, but also – because they’re succinctly defined – may appeal to others, like facility managers, brokers, appraisers, assessors, lenders, insurers, developers, construction and design professionals, and those who need an unequivocal, direct measure of the physical size of a building.

"In addition to the new gross areas standard, BOMA will soon release a new version of its Standard Method for Measuring Floor Area in Office Buildings."

Other Standards Efforts Under Way

In addition to the new gross areas standard, BOMA will soon release a new version of its Standard Method for Measuring Floor Area in Office Buildings. Probably the most sought-after change for the new version of the office standard will be the use of a building-wide rentable/usable (R/U) ratio. This change is being made to accommodate the realities in today’s leasing market and to reflect the need for providing a single R/U ratio, frequently referred to as the “load factor” for a building.

Concurrent with the revision of the office standard, BOMA is working to develop two other floor-measurement standards – one for retail facilities and another for multi-unit residential buildings. The latter will be completed in Fall 2009, and the retail floor-measurement standard will be completed around the first of the year. All of these standards will join the BOMA/Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) Standard Methods for Measuring Floor Area in Industrial Buildings. Industrial space is considered as such when more than 51 percent of the building is dominated by non-office users. This standard provides two methods by which space can be measured in new and existing industrial buildings: the “exterior wall” method and the “drip line” method.

In a separate effort, BOMA and the Intl. Facility Management Association (IFMA) worked to develop common definitions for floor measurements for office facilities. The final result of this 3-year effort is A Unified Approach for Measuring Office Space: For Use in Facility and Property Management, which is now available. This publication reveals and harmonizes the differences between the IFMA floor-measurement standard for spatial planning and the BOMA standard, which is used for leasing purposes.

This is just one of the many areas in which BOMA Intl. is tirelessly working on behalf of the real estate industry. It may not make for fun dinner conversation, but it’s of critical importance to our industry.

James A. Peck is chairman at BOMA Intl. For more information on this and other issues, call BOMA Intl. at (202) 408-2662 or visit www.boma.org.

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