Usable area VS constructed area

When it comes to buying or selling a house on the Costa Brava or Costa Dorada, two terms that are sure to appear are “useful surface area” and “constructed surface area”. These measures play an integral role in the value of a property, its livability and even its taxation. However, many people do not always understand the difference between these two concepts, and this lack of knowledge can lead to missteps during negotiations that could cost you money. Knowing the nuances between these two measurements is essential when looking for a house of the size you want or reviewing plans for a new home. A lack of knowledge that can lead to confusion when buying and selling a property on the Costa Brava or Costa Dorada and cause, for example, that we buy a house with less square meters than we need.

Difference between usable and constructed surface area of a house

Both terms have to do with the space occupied by the dwelling, but while the useful surface refers to that which can be walked on inside the house, the built surface includes all the square meters that are within the perimeter of the dwelling.

On the other hand, the built surface with common elements adds to the built surface the proportional part of the common areas that corresponds to a property (multi-family dwellings).

The usable area or usable meters of the house

The usable area or usable meters of the dwelling refers to the available space or habitable meters. Colloquially speaking, it would be what we can walk on, but including the entire interior of the dwelling -such as the inside of built-in closets and surfaces occupied by furniture- and excluding construction elements (partitions, pillars, walls…).

Covered outdoor spaces for private use (balconies, terraces…) are considered as usable area at 50%, if they do not exceed 15% of the total usable area of the house. In the case of storage rooms or parking spaces in multi-family dwellings, these are usually counted as independent elements (useful and constructed surface area).

This information is very important for the buyer of a house, since he/she needs to know how much space he/she will have to live in and occupy.

The built-up area or meters

This term is the total area of the dwelling, including structural elements. That is to say, the interior space of the house and the walls, the pillars… Therefore, it contemplates what remains inside the contour of a house.

In the case of sharing walls with a neighbor, the perimeter is measured from the middle of the party walls. Spaces with a height of less than 1.50 m are not considered as built surface.

The difference between the usable area and the constructed area usually varies between 15% and 25%, approximately.

The constructed area with common elements.

In multi-family dwellings and in housing developments, it is important to take into account the constructed area plus the proportional part of the common areas of the building (the entrance, the landing, the meter room, the common rooms…).

This surface area is the one used by appraisers when valuing a property economically. The data of the constructed surface and the constructed surface with common elements appear in the cadastre (free and public information).

In this case, the figure with respect to the general built-up area usually differs by 10% to 15% more.

Usable area and constructed area: purposes

Each of these areas addresses specific aspects of the property. Thus, while the useful surface area informs us about the available living space, the constructed surface area is especially relevant for the appraisal, the preparation of the deeds, the taxes (IBI) or the community fees.

Main faults when measuring a house

According to professionals, the confusion between useful meters and built meters is one of the main errors detected when measuring a house. Another common failure is to include the entire surface of the terrace, since they are usually computed at 50% of the useful surface and can only be recorded at 100% if they are closed by three orientations. Another common confusion is to include garages and storage rooms in the surface of the house, since they are separate.

Likewise, it is wrong for the buyer to value the property according to the useful meters. As we have indicated, appraisers take into account the price per square meter built with common.

Contact our team to avoid these doubts, whether you are going to sell your house or if you are interested in buying a property on the Costa Brava or Costa Dorada.

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