It is pleasing to see the government endorse the use of the International Property Measurement Standard (IPMS) in its State of the Estate Report: 2015 to 2016.

The government has thrown its full weight behind the measurement practice by using it to future-proof the way its buildings are measured and to create a more efficient use of its estate. The Government

Property Unit will populate IPMS measurements on the Electronic Property Information Mapping Service (e-PIMS) as buildings across the estate are measured.

This announcement is quite timely given that the IPMS coalition has just released its IPMS: Residential Buildings document. The RICS Property Measurement Working Group is drafting guidance for its members on how to implement the IPMS standard. It is expected that this will soon be released for a six-month consultation.

IPMS: Residential Buildings will have an important role to play in the residential sector. Research carried out by the University of Ulster found that the measurement of residential apartments can vary by up to 15% across the globe and the measurement of houses (residential dwellings) can vary by up to 58%.

Erroneous measures

Within local markets there can be a variation of up to 27% in the measurement of residential apartments and a 10% variance in the measurement of houses.

Discrepancies over the size of a building cause many issues when a property is listed off-plan or bought by investors and have led to disputes where rental calculations and service charges have relied on erroneous measurements.

For housebuilders and developers, the new international standard will give more certainty around planning and development agreements.

They will also need to ensure that local authorities are aware of which measurement standard is being used in planning applications or planning permissions, so that gross areas are not applied.

Tom Pugh, senior associate, Malcolm Hollis, and member of the Property Measurement Working Group, RICS