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Square Foot Definitions

More Art Than Science

Measuring office space in Manhattan is sometimes more of an art than a science. There are essentially four types of measurements:

Gross Square Footage of Building
Usable Square Footage
Carpetabable or Plannable Square Footage
Rentable Square Footage

Gross Square Footage Of Building

All the floor area within the exterior walls of the building and enclosed by a roof. In addition, the measure includes free-standing power plants or other structures to the extent they service the building.

Usable Square Footage

Full floor: It is the square footage within your space that more or less excludes all vertical penetrations through your floor (elevator shafts, public stairs, HVAC facilities, fire towers, public washrooms, and building telephone rooms).
Multiple tenant floor: Take the usable area calculated above as if it were a single tenant floor. Then apportion corridor areas including toilets on a pro-rata basis to the tenants of the floor.

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Carpetable Or Plannable Square Footage

This is usable square footage minus any areas that are devoted to support. Think of carpetable area as being every place you could conceivably use for workspace. Clearly, toilets, closets, pantries, etc. do not count on the carpetable or plannable measurement.

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Rentable Square Footage

Rentable square footage is derived from the market. There is no legal definition and landlords are not bound to measure space according to any similar guidelines. The reason that square footage is a flexible number is that it allows a landlord the ability to inflate its area measurement and actually drop the price per square foot and receive the same return. By renting more square footage than actually exists a landlord can also recover more than 100% of all operating costs, in some cases up to 115% of what was paid. Do not expect to convince a landlord to measure according to your ruler. Landlords give measurements to their lenders who count on the space square footage staying as the landlord had reported it.

Example: 10,000 rentable sq. ft. with a 20% loss factor equals a 8,000 usable sq. ft. However, if you take 8,000 usable sq. ft. it requires a 25% add on factor (1.25x) to reach 10,000 rentable sq. ft.

10,000 sq. ft. 8,000 sq. ft.
20% loss factor 25% add on factor
8,000 usable sq. ft. 10,000 sq. ft.

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