When you are buying a house and the seller mentions the area of that house do you know if it is a net area or is it a total gross area and what are the differences?
In Spanish they are called “Superficie Útil”, and “Superficie Construida”. Terms that we hear often but that, nevertheless, are expressions that may lead to confusion and could be rather costly when we find that the rooms are smaller than anticipated and we cannot fit the newly bought furniture.
Constructed area or total gross area: It is the total covered area of the house, i.e. the area under the roof, and includes all internal walls, partitions and half of the party walls. As a rule of thumb is usually about 10% to 20% higher than the net area (Superficie Útil) this proportion depends greatly on the actual perimeter of the property. Compare the perimeter of wall of a property that is 30m long and 3m wide with that of 9.48m by 9.48m. They have equal area but their perimeters are very different indeed.
Opened terraces usually account for 50% of their area. This method of measurement is derived from the Spanish planning laws where a plot is given a maximum buildable area and any area underneath balconies counts for 50% of that area, but it is not the same in all Autonomous Communities or town hall, which have their own legislation, and may not be so.
Other expressions to be aware of:
• An area is considered enclosed when three of its sides are so.
• Eaves are not considered as roof cover if it projects less than 50 cm from the facade. Sometime this requisite is also applied to balconies.
• In lofts is considered as built area those spaces that have a height greater than 150 cm.
• Half of the party walls are also considered as part of the built areas.
Another concept widely used is the so called “common elements” (Elementos Comunes): this term includes common areas used by all owners and a proportional share is added to each house:
• Portals, lobbies and stairs.
• Roof storage in the roof for telecommunication for example.
• Rubbish storage, meters room, rooms for pressure pumps and water storage.
• And in posh developments: community rooms, locker rooms, saunas, gyms spaces.
All those areas may be proportionally added to the total area of your house. For example in the sale literature or deeds you could see a total constructed area of 145m2 but when you measure your actual property you may find a miserable 80m2. So beware.
What about individual villas, how is the area measured?
Normally, the villas have two types of areas as stated above: the net area and the built or gross area. But there is an exception: in urbanizations that have a common garages, it is necessary to add the part corresponding to the meters constructed with common areas.
Although villas seem straight forward, there are always issues that are good to remember. For example the roof spaces are computed as a built surface when the space height is 1.50 m or higher.
And watch out with the terraces and porches areas of the in single-family homes, since they can be computed as constructed and accounted for at 50% if the eave spans more than 50 centimetres from the façade.
Any new property built from 2007 must have solar panels to providing free hot water for at least 70% of the demand or must have an alternative mean of none pollutant mechanism to provide that amount of hot water.
So it is wise to ask where the panels are installed and to find out whether they are communal or private.
Each new property must have a “Building Book” which must contain a full set of plan of the project, all names and address of all agents that participated in the construction process, full set of recommendation for the maintenance of all main elements of the building specifying the necessary period of maintenance, the ten year guarantee, etc.
Very valuable information indeed, so ask for it.