Understanding the property area: Carpet, built-up and super built-up
October 06, 2021
Property area is commonly calculated in square feet or square meters. While buying a house you may come across terms, such as carpet area, built-up area and super built-up area. These terms may confuse you as a buyer and many assume all these are inter-changeable. Although they may sound similar, there is a lot of difference in what actually constitutes the carpet area and built-up area.
The area in the flat or the apartment, which you could cover using a carpet, is the carpet area. Also known as the net usable area, the carpet area is actually that space in your home, which can be used for laying a carpet. It includes the thickness of the internal wall but excludes the balcony or terrace. Technically, the distance between the inner walls is the carpet area. Also, it will include a staircase only if it is inside the apartment. The real estate developers in India widely misused these terms by misinforming buyers about the real usable area and coining complicated terms to give a false sense of large space. After Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) has come into force, it is now mandatory for all builders to sell flats based on the carpet area.
As per RERA, the net usable floor area of an apartment excludes the area covered by the external walls, areas under services shafts, the balcony or verandah and any open terrace area, but includes the area covered by the internal partition walls of the apartment.
Carpet area calculation:
Carpet area = Area of bedroom + living room + balconies + toilets – the thickness of the inner walls.
In most cases, the carpet area in your flat would typically be 70% of its built-up area. So, if the built-up area of a property is 1,500 sq. ft., its carpet area would typically be 1,050 sq. ft.
Importance of carpet area:
The area calculation and the space that you would have, in exchange for the price you pay for purchasing the property, is critical. As is obvious, the larger the space, the higher the cost. Similarly, the smaller the space, the lower the cost. Under RERA, builders are now legally obliged to mention the carpet area to measure price units. Provisions have also been made for the increase and decrease in its measurement, while developing an under-construction project. If the carpet area is reduced through the course of the construction, the builder will have to refund the excess amount within 45 days, with an annual interest, to the buyer. In case of an increase in the carpet area, the developer can also ask the buyer to pay the excess amount. However, RERA caps the upper limit of the increase in the carpet area at 3%.
The built-up area in your flat or apartment is the carpet area plus the area that is covered by the inner walls and the balcony. In housing apartments in India, nearly 30% of a housing unit’s entire area is used in creating the inner walls and the balconies. This means if the developer tells you that the built-up area of the unit is 1,000 sq ft., you could assume that the net usable area or carpet area of the apartment will not exceed 700 sq ft.
As per RERA, the built-up area includes the carpet area plus the extra areas certified by the authorities, such as the area of the outer and inner walls, dry balcony area, etc.
Built-up area calculation:
Carpet area + wall area + excluding balcony and corridor = Built-up area.
Super built-up area:
A housing society consists of various common areas, such as the corridor, lift lobby, elevator etc. and the buyer has to pay a monthly maintenance charge for the upkeep of these areas. The maintenance is a proportionate part of these spaces at the time of the purchase. Builders typically use the loading factor – constructed spaces not exclusively allocated to the buyer – on the carpet area, to arrive at the super built-up area. In some cases, builders even include amenities, such as pools, gardens and clubhouses in the common area.
Before RERA made it mandatory for builders to sell flats based on the carpet area, they widely used the super-built-up area as the space measuring unit, to cash in on the lack of clarity on space calculation. The use of super built-up area as a measuring unit, helped them to lower the per sq. ft. cost of the property. It also gave the buyers a false impression that they were investing in a large home, when they actually were not.
Super built-up area = Built-up area + proportionate common area.
Super built-up area = Carpet area (1+loading factor)
What is included in the super built-up area?
Built up area of the flat
Lift & staircases
Any other common facilities for the residents.
It is the difference between the super built-up area and the carpet area of your flat. It is used to add constructed spaces, not exclusively allocated to you. It includes shared areas like lifts, lobbies, staircases, and amenities, as well as a part of your terrace and balcony. The loading factor of 1.20 means that your builder has added 20% to your carpet area. If the residential project does not have many amenities, the loading factor will be small. In most cases, a loading factor of 1.30 is considered sufficient.
As a buyer, always ask the builder about the carpet area of the property and negotiate the price based on this area. When you are comparing different projects or properties always compare the price per square feet on the carpet area and not the built-up or super built-up area. This will ensure that your comparison is accurate and the quoted price is correct and suitable when compared with the prevailing prices in the area.
Another important checkpoint is the Bank’s assessment; in case you are applying for a loan. The Bank would send a technical expert to visit and appraise the property. You can check with them, if the carpet area, as told to you by the builder, is the same, as assessed by them. In case of any discrepancies, you must point out this issue to the builder and renegotiate the price.