Last edited 30 Jan 2019

Gross internal area GIA

The area of a building can be measured in a number of different ways:

It is very important when describing the area of a building to be clear about which measure is being used, for example in planning applications, building regulation applications, property sales, lease negotiations, rating valuations, and so on.

The UK government’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) Code of measuring practice: definitions for rating purposes suggests that gross internal area includes:

Gross internal area excludes:

  • Open balconies.
  • Open fire escapes.
  • Open-sided covered ways.
  • Open vehicle parking areas, terraces and so on.
  • Minor canopies.
  • Any area with a ceiling height of less than 1.5m (except under stairways).
  • Any area under the control of service or other external authorities.

The VOA code is in general agreement with RICS Guidance Note, A guide for Property Professionals, 6th Edition Code of measuring practice 2007, other than, areas with a headroom of less than 1.5m which are excluded from the VOA measurement.

NB: NRM1: Order of cost estimating and cost planning for capital building work, defines ‘gross internal floor area’ (GIFA) (or gross internal area (GIA)) as:

‘…the area of a building measured to the internal face of the perimeter walls at each floor level. The rules of measurement of gross internal floor area are defined in the latest edition of the RICS Code of Measuring Practice.’

According to ‘Elemental Standard Form of Cost Analysis, Principles, Instructions, Elements and Definitions, 4th (NRM) Edition’ written by RICS in 2012 and published by BCIS, GIFA includes:

It excludes:

And that:

  • The GIFA excludes the thickness of perimeter walls, but includes the thickness of all internal walls. Therefore, it is necessary to identify what constitutes a separate building, e.g. the sum of the GIFA of a terrace of buildings, treated as separate buildings, will be different from the terrace treated as a single building.
  • Areas of open ground floors and the like should be excluded.
  • ‘Internal face’ means the structural wall or plaster coat applied to the structural wall, not the surface of internal linings installed by the occupier.
  • Lift rooms, etc. should be included if housed in a roofed structure having the appearance of permanence (e.g. made of brick or similar building material). Areas covered by enclosures designed solely to mask plant, rooflines, etc. should be excluded.
  • The presence of steps or changes in floor levels should be noted.
  • Attention is drawn to the exclusion of voids over atria at upper levels and the inclusion of voids over stairs, etc. Where an atrium-like space is formed to create an entrance feature, and this also accommodates a staircase, this does not become a stairwell but remains an atrium measurable at base level only.
  • Walkways across an atrium at upper levels should be included in the measurement of upper floors.
  • Areas in the roof space intended for use with permanent access should be included in the measurement of upper floors and measured to internal face of the enclosing wall or the roof at floor level.
  • Re-entrant balconies, i.e. open sided balconies within the predominant line of the external wall should be treated as open sided balconies and excluded.


[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki


A question - what about undercroft spaces? Meaning an open area of building that has the same building above it and columns coming down to ground, with entrance to the building at ground.