Rules seek standard for flat sizes
Surveyor guidelines to set uniform basis for measuring the saleable floor area
The Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors plans to set uniform guidelines for calculating saleable floor space in the second half of this year, a move that could help would-be buyers figure out exactly what they are getting for their money.
Currently, there are no rules governing how useable floor area is calculated, making it very difficult for buyers to compare different properties.
The confusion was made worse by the government's move in 2001 to exempt 'green' areas, such as balconies, when calculating a building's gross floor area in a bid to encourage more environment-friendly construction.
'Inconsistency among developers in calculating saleable floor area' led home buyers to make mistakes when figuring out a flat's cost per square foot, said Serena Lau Sze-wan, who chairs the general practice division at the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors.
Including a balcony or utility area would reduce the apparent unit cost of a flat while adding nothing to its usable space.
'Buyers would make wrong judgments if comparing properties with unit rates only,' she said.
Homebuyers are not the only ones confused. Some surveyors include space that is devoted to utilities or balconies when calculating saleable floor area, while others do not.
'It is time to change,' Ms Lau said.
The institute plans to exclude balconies and utility platforms when measuring saleable floor area under the new guidelines.
The amount of impact the rules will have is hard to gauge, since the institute cannot force developers to follow the new system.