GFA – When Bigger isn’t Always Better

When floor space, is not floor space

When it comes to finding a property, it is easy to get obsessive about things that hadn’t crossed your mind beforehand. Location is an obvious attribute that differentiates one property from another. Price and facilities are two more. Gross floor area (GFA) is something that will, as time goes on, become a more and more important factor when choosing your dream home. In a country where space is at a premium – literally – every square inch of space that an apartment has is crucial, both for you as a perspective resident, and for the agent trying to sell it. It isn’t quite as easy though as simply comparing the quoted GFA from one apartment with another. You need to first understand what actually makes up GFA and how this relates to your particular needs and preferences.


So what makes up the GFA? The best way to answer this is by saying what isn’t included. The list is pretty short. Without getting into too much detail, and the intricacies of architectural designs, for all intents and purposes, the only piece of horizontal “floor” space that does not count towards the GFA for an apartment is the RC ledge. Even there it isn’t quite that straightforward however. The reinforced concrete ledge, as long as it’s function is purely for sun shading, and is located on an external façade and does not have any parapet wall or railing is exempt. But only if it does not exceed 2 metres in width. Anything over that is counted.

So, this means everything else is counted in your precious floor space. Balconies and roof terraces you would expect, but maybe not so much bay windows and planters. Planters especially, offer very little if anything in terms of functional floor space, many can’t even be accessed from the apartment, but they are still counted. If a flat has several bay windows, it could easily give a distorted impression when scanning the statistics about its size when comparing it to one without.


Houses are getting smaller, but prices are getting higher, so you need to make sure that every bit of space that you are paying for you are going to use. To this end, you need to think hard about what you want from your home, and where you will likely be spending your time. A large balcony to some people is a must, while to others it is simply an expensive waste of space that they will never use. Knowing beforehand what you want in a property will immediately put you in a stronger position to find the one that is tailor made to you and your lifestyle.


Planter Box
Outdoor lovers may view this little balcony as a redundant space that is too small to do anything while homeowners who prefer huge indoor spaces will love its minimal ‘space wastage’



Similarly, if you are buying a new launch condo as an investment, think what are the likely characteristics of those who are most likely to rent it. As a rule, expats are more attracted to large balconies and roof terraces than locals or other Asian nationals. Hence if you are looking to rent to up and coming Singaporean couples, a patio unit with a huge balcony is probably not going to be the best option.


Size of course isn’t everything, but it is something that certainly needs to be taken into account, and more importantly, the size of the space that you are going to actively use, as opposed to just that listed on the sales brochure.




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