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In the dynamic world of property development, success hinges on making informed decisions at every stage. From accurately quantifying usable floor space to ensuring fire safety compliance and optimizing energy efficiency, leveraging the right tools and data is crucial. This comprehensive guide delves into the pivotal roles of Building Information Modeling (BIM), measured building surveys, and sustainable design in navigating the complexities of property development projects.

Understanding Key Measurements

Gross External Area (GEA)

The Gross External Area (GEA) refers to the total floor area of a building, including all enclosed spaces. This measurement is vital for property footprint planning and fa├žade designs, as it provides an overall understanding of the building’s physical footprint.

Gross Internal Area (GIA)

The Gross Internal Area (GIA) offers a comprehensive measurement of the entire internal space, providing a total footprint of the building without deducting non-usable areas. This measurement is essential for floor planning and spatial layouts, ensuring efficient use of available space.

Net Internal Area (NIA)

The Net Internal Area (NIA) is a crucial metric for property managers, as it quantifies the usable floor space within a building, excluding walls, corridors, and staircases. This standardized measure of actual usable space aids in calculating net leasable areas and property valuations, ensuring accurate assessments and maximizing revenue generation.

The Significance of Accurate Measurements

Empowering Real Estate Brokers

Accurate measured data empowers commercial property professionals and leasing agents to complete complex purchases, leases, and managed lets with confidence. By accounting for factors such as wall thickness, common areas, and service spaces, precise GIA and NIA calculations result in reliable net leasable area calculations, ensuring properties are utilized to their full potential.

Potential discrepancies in property size assessments are avoided, providing transparency and fairness in lease agreements. Moreover, precise building measurements assist with adhering to industry standards for calculating net leasable areas, maintaining consistency in reporting within the real estate industry.

Aiding Building Managers

Measured surveys generate floor plans and elevation drawings, providing a clear representation of a building’s structure. For building managers, these drawings are invaluable for evaluating compliance with safety standards related to escape routes, access points, and other critical elements outlined in the Building Safety Act.

Ensuring Fire Safety Compliance

The Building Safety Act 2022 introduced new fire safety regulations, making it essential for property owners and managers to ensure compliance. In the case of Queensbury Court, a block of luxury residential flats in Mayfair, Central London, Savills commissioned a measured survey to determine the building’s height, GIA, and NIA measurements. This information enabled them to upgrade the fire alarm system and meet the new fire safety requirements that came into effect on October 1, 2023.

Maximizing Energy Efficiency and Financial Returns

Building data empowers real estate managers to perform thorough audits on a property’s current energy efficiency levels, identifying areas for improvement and enabling informed decisions on future energy efficiency investments and compliance measures.

By prioritizing projects that offer the best return on investment for energy savings and compliance, property owners can optimize their financial returns while contributing to sustainability efforts. For instance, the Savills Earth Sustainable Design team utilized data from a measured building survey to develop an energy efficiency model for Exchequer Court, a high-profile office space in central London.

Accurate data on net leasable areas also enables real estate managers to conduct more effective financial planning, projecting rental income, assessing potential vacancies, and making informed decisions about property improvements based on a precise understanding of available leasable space.

Optimizing Property Utilization and Development

Project Team Coordination

Accurate measurement data is instrumental for project teams in ensuring regulatory compliance, optimizing property utilization, and creating future property development plans. By providing a shared and accurate dataset, multiple parties involved in the sale or lease of a building, such as architects, engineers, real estate agents, and legal teams, can enhance collaboration and minimize misunderstandings.

Measured building data assists in ensuring future development plans comply with regulatory requirements, as understanding the existing building structure allows project teams to plan modifications or expansions within the bounds of local building codes and zoning regulations.

Resource Maximization

The data obtained from measured building surveys helps in creating realistic project budgets by considering factors such as construction materials, labor, and potential challenges that may arise during the development process. By maximizing project resources and reducing costs, property developers can deliver projects at competitive price points, enhancing their market position.

Visual Representation and Stakeholder Engagement

Embracing Virtual and Augmented Reality

Buyers and investors can remotely explore precise digital twins of properties worldwide, as measured data seamlessly integrates into virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) platforms. This modernizes how buildings are visualized and engaged with, offering a quicker and more comprehensive decision-making process for property owners.

Architectural Insights

Data captured by 3D laser scanners can be used to produce asset records, volumetric surveys to create 3D BIM-ready Revit models, or 2D floorplans. Matterport camera scanners and LIDAR laser scanners can create point clouds, virtual flythroughs, or dollhouse views, providing owners, occupiers, consultants, and professionals with a deeper understanding of property plans. This allows them to assess the feasibility and aesthetics of proposed changes, as demonstrated in the case of Rees Pryor Architects, who commissioned a laser survey and Revit model to gain insights into the existing architectural elements of an old magistrates court building ahead of a residential refit.

Sustainability at the Forefront

Construction professionals and building contractors are increasingly using accurate property measurements to incorporate sustainability legislation when implementing new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing technology. Precise data guides decisions relating to energy efficiency modeling, environmental impact, and green building practices, aligning property development projects with recent legislation updates on environmental responsibility and positioning them for long-term success.


In the pursuit of property development success, accurate measured building data underpins every critical decision, from harnessing technological advancements to fostering stakeholder engagement and ensuring compliance with sustainability legislation. By leveraging the power of BIM, measured surveys, and sustainable design practices, professionals can make informed decisions, maximize project efficiency, and deliver projects that not only meet but exceed expectations.