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The built-up area called home

Time was when you just built a house, a regular house, and added rooms as and when required. Then the concept of a "Flat" got evolved in the urbs primus that is Bombay , amchi mumbai. It was either a four-bedroom apartment with an attached servants' room/s or a three bedroom one, or, a two-bedroom flat. The prices of these flats depended, primarily on the locality, and the numbers of the bedrooms.

Around 25-30 years ago, flats began being quoted in areas. So many square feet, not square yards, and regardless of the fact that we had given up the avoirdupois system way back in 1957, and it was, still is, illegal not to use the Metric system. But this has not deterred builders from advertising, and selling their ware in "square feet". Thank God, it is not "square inches".

Although, even prior to that, people did enquire about the sizes of the flats they purchased. But this was more with a curiosity, and "owners'-pride-relatives'-envy" point of view, and not so much as to what they were paying for in rupees, annas and pies per square foot. Then, the third major boom in real estate came on the scene
after the end of the Emergency period, in 1977. As the prices of real estate rose, the areas of the flats started going down. It was as if there was an inverse relationship between prices and the sizes of flats: the more
the prices rose, the smaller the sizes of the flats became. But even then, asking about the areas was just a tangential measure.

So, what exactly do you buy when you buy a flat? What is carpet area? What is built-up area? What is "super" built-up area? What does a flat customer actually buy?

Carpet area, as the name implies, is the innermost measurement of the flat from the edge of the wall to another edge. This is the size of the carpet you would need to order, should you go in for a wall-to-wall Persian, or Ludhianvi, or Mirzapuri, or any other, carpet. It includes the areas of the rooms, the internal passages, where you may, or may not put a carpet. It also includes the exact inner dimensions of a kitchen, toilet and bathroom, where you will most certainly NOT put a carpet. This is the area, which you actually use, the area, which if not carpeted, is cleaned everyday by a wet mop.

Thus, ALL inner areas of a flat, as the door closes, would constitute the carpet area of the flat.

But you also use the walls. And not just for security and privacy! You also hang paintings or mirrors on them you often let your children use them as drawing boards. You build cupboards and wall units around them. Thus walls are an integral part of your flat.

Hence the wall thickness has to be included in the areas of your flat, for which you are paying. This constitutes the built-up area of a flat: its inner measurements and the thickness of all the walls.

Then, you have to approach your flat either by a lift, or the staircase and a passage, which may be common to all the flat users in the building and/or the floor. Taller buildings will have more than one lift. And, as per current Fire Fighting & Safety Rules, buildings above 7 floors must have more than two staircases. All this adds to the construction costs. Who will pay for this? In this case the buyer.

Thus all areas that constitute the lift/s pit, the passages, the staircase, including the mid-landing, the servants' toilet on a floor, if any, all get added, proportionately, to the area of the flat, which you have to pay for. The total of such areas gets divided proportionately between the total number of flats per floor: the larger the number of flats per floor, the lesser is this area that gets added to the area of the flat. A building with four or six flats per floor will have a lesser addition to each flat than a building with 2 flats per floor. And the entire floor area would be yours if the building has only one flat per floor.

Similarly, if the flats per floor are of equal sizes then they will get an equal share of addition per flat of the areas per floor. If the flats are of un-equal sizes then the additions will be on proportionate basis.

Since the addition of these areas to the areas of a flat to constitute the area to be sold was such a super idea, this came to be called the "Super-Built-up Area"! However, in simple terms, a "Super-Built-up Area" of a flat would be the area of the floor from the external periphery of the building divided by the numbers of the flats per floor.

Time was when quite a few builders added the areas of the Stilts, the chajjas , the flower beds, the Under Ground and the Overhead water tanks, etc., to the "Super-Built-up Area". After all, it was part of the overall construction costs, and ultimate ownership of such facilities that you were paying for. Logical.

Time was when most builders simply added a hefty 40 % to 60 % to the carpet areas, and sold that to a hapless flat purchaser. Not any more.

With the Real Estate Market becoming "user-friendly", with the accent shifting from "investor-oriented" to "end-user-linked" market, customers can now demand to know as to what they are paying for. But, please note that hiring an architect, or draughtsman, to measure the areas of the flat you wish to purchase, would be an extreme.

Suffice it to say that you are within your rights to know what exactly you are paying for and that this should get recorded in your agreement with the builder. And, the external periphery of the building, which the Municipal Corporation/Local Body has sanctioned for construction, would constitute the area, proportionate to your flat, which you pay for.



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