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The international standard to bring consistency to measuring property space

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Roger Ryan reviews the standard and benefits for the construction industry

'International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS) is a new, principle-based international standard that sets out how to measure property. It means that for the first time, property will be measured in a consistent way around the world. IPMS does not define the units of measurement (e.g. feet and meters) but instead what is included in the measurement  of property floor space', Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors – RICS.

Why change was needed 

Presently, property assets such as homes, offices, and hotels are measured dramatically differently from one market to the next. With such diverse techniques of measurement used, it makes it increasingly challenging for global investors, leasing agents, tenants, and anyone dealing with property to accurately compare space. For example, in India, off site areas such as car parking and common areas can be included in floor area measurements; in other markets, only air conditioned space is included. If you are looking for an office building for 100 staff, measurement variations could mean that the actual capacity is just 76 staff.

Measurement variations between markets caused by inconsistent measurement standards can be as high as 24%. 
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Measurement variations for an office building

  • RICS code of measuring practice (International) factors in the actual office area 
  • PCA measurement standard (Australia) factors in the office area and the columns
  • Singapore measuring practice includes the office area, columns, and the exterior walls
  • BOMA (International) in its measurement of area includes the office area, common parts, exterior walls (50%), toilets, main IT rooms, and columns
  • HKIS code of measuring practice (Hong Kong) factors in the office area, lifts, stairs, columns, exterior walls, toilets, and common parts when measuring the office space

What is the International Property Measurement Standards Coalition (IPMSC)? 

The IPMSC is an international group of 70 professional and not-for-profit organisations from around the world, working together to develop and implement international standards for measuring property. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – an international organisation that regulates and promotes the highest educational and professional standards within the land, property, and construction sectors worldwide – was one of the founding members of this coalition. Other reputable organisations involved in this coalition are The China Institute of Real Estate Appraisers & Agents (CIREA), The Australian Property Institute (API), and The Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI). A Standard Setting Committee of 18 independent experts has been appointed by the IMPSC to draft and consult on the new International Property Measurement Standards. 

... the enthusiasm and appetite for IPMS is evident through leading global partners who have committed to adopting it. 

Benefits of the IPMS

  • Increases transparency of property data
  • Consistent language for measurement worldwide
  • Reduces risk, facilitating international trade in property
  • Easier property portfolio benchmarking
  • Greater credibility for valuation professions worldwide
  • Compliments Building Information Modelling (BIM) by providing a consistent and transparent approach to measurement

While the standard is not mandatory in the market place, the enthusiasm and appetite for IPMS is evident through leading global partners who have committed to adopting it. These are not just surveying or construction firms but also multinational corporations such as Citicorp International Limited and the International Monetary Fund. The Dubai Government is the first national Government  to factor IPMS into their legislation, with other Governments expected to follow their lead.

What are governments and global corporations saying about the IPMS? 

Sultan Butti Bin Mejren, Director General of the Dubai Land Department says; 

'Our involvement in this initiative supports our position in raising the benchmark for unifying surveying standards in Dubai. The efforts to unify surveying standards should benefit property owners and investors, as it will negate some of the issues and problems that can arise from differing standards used by real estate operators. It will support transparency and trust and will contribute to the convergence of global markets'.

Bill Davidson, Global Property Director, Vodafone says; 

'Vodafone occupies space for a wide range of uses all around the world. Like many other corporates we have had to develop our own means of benchmarking these property assets. I am certain that IPMS will save corporate occupiers time, money and effort across their property portfolios and will enable us to compare space between companies far more easily than today'.

The first phase of IPMS which applies only to office buildings was published in November 2014. However the IPMS Standards Setting Committee has been working on publishing IPMS for residential buildings with IPMS for industrial, retail, and mixed use to follow later this year. In summary, the IPMS will allow property assets to be measured unvaryingly, developing a more transparent marketplace, increased public trust, stronger investor confidence, and improved market stability.  


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