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How to measure the size of a Canary Island property

The most basic element of a property is its size. With this information the property can be compared to others and their relative merits and prices become clear.

Unfortunately, not everybody measures in the same way and thus obtaining 100% compatible results is often not possible. The first measurement of a property should be that provided by the architect who designed it and registered it with local authority.

The architect’s certificates will show both the gross overall area (Construido) and the net internal area (Util). By law in certain areas of Spain, both of these are now required to be given when a new property is being marketed.
The next time that the floor area of a property is shown officially is when it is recorded in the title deed (Escritura). This area is conventionally the Construido, plus increasingly the Util is given.

As a legal nicety, it should be noted that the land and floor areas stated in the Registry and Title Deeds (Escritura) are those ‘Declared’ and are not guaranteed or checked by the Registrar or Notary. Therefore, on older properties if an extension has been added & not legalised, or a garage adapted to a bedroom, it will not show on the deeds. You could be clearly looking at a three bedroom house, that on the deeds only shows a two bedroom property. There is nothing necessarily illegal with this occurrence as long as the buyer is aware. A negative side is a valuation on the property can only be measured correctly by what is shown on the Escritura, not what the valuer is seeing. So your valuation could come in less than anticipated if this was a scenario. Long term this may effect your finance if you are seeking a mortgage. A mortgage valuer for a Spanish lender or insurer could have to value on a reduced basis, as they are obliged by law to use the lesser of the actual area or that recorded in the title deed.
Outbuildings such as garages, stores and even swimming pools should be recorded. The Nota Simple should merely be an extract from the Registry of the description given in the title deeds and so will merely repeat any errors.
Sometimes, however, errors or omissions can occur between the registered description and the Nota Simple and so to be sure, one always has to check with the actual title deed.

The third time that the area of the property is commonly ‘found’ is in relation to the Catastral or tax value of the property.
The property should be officially remeasured for this purpose and there should be regular revaluations, plus the addition of measurements when completion certificates are given for licensed amendments to the building.
Again, the common measurement is of the Construido area. Obviously though, if an addition is not licensed and the property has not been recently remeasured, it’s not going to appear in the Catastral area.

As the Registrars for the Nota Simple and the Catastral are not the same, there often are variations between the descriptions and areas.
So, with all its variations and potential pitfalls, its best to check the site and floor areas, prior to making an offer.
Checking site areas on the ground can be extremely difficult to do accurately as they are often irregular and that its best to employ a specialist land surveyor.
Nowadays they will use GPS linked and laser instruments to provide accuracy well beyond that possible when the original land subdivision was created.
Checking of the building floor areas should be simpler, but again there can be variations

Construido: This is simply described as the area included within the external line of the external walls of the building.
Central open courtyards and open patios are excluded. A covered terrace with two or more open sides is included at 50%.
Where only one side is open it is included at 100%.
Where a building is less than 1.5 m high it is excluded.
Shared walls with adjoining properties are taken at 50% of their width.
Garages and pools are stated separately.
Where there are substantial common areas, such as in an apartment block, a percentage of these areas is also added according to the percentage responsibility stated in the title deeds.

Util : This is more complicated, but again can be simply described as the ‘carpet’ floor area of a house.
Basically it excludes external and internal walls (but not fitted cupboards) and floor openings for stairs and essential services.
Inevitably, there can be discussions over such things as whether the floor area under radiators and stairs should be included.
The Util area should be approximately 12% to 15% less than the Construido area, ignoring additions for external common areas.
All in all, it’s difficult to be absolutely certain, but with residential property the variations should be minimal. Commercial properties are much more complicated!

Where does all this leave the buyer? The selling agent should measure the property prior to putting it on the market.
Nowadays, with hand-held meters it is much easier to measure internally. A measuring tape is really needed for outside. Many agents don’t have the time, skill or inclination to measure the properties and thus may do all that they are required, which is to quote the Nota Simple.

As stated above, this can be very wide of the mark. Also, some owners will like to include the areas of open patios, swimming pools, garages, common areas, etc, to enhance the comparative value of the property, so care has to be taken to ensure that one is comparing like with like.
You can obtain copies of the Nota Simple and Catastral record for most properties, where sufficient information is given. This can be done through your agent or lawyer or on the internet yourself if you have he full address & original registration records

Ask the experts at freedom4sale. Get some Independent advice on any aspect of buying or selling property.

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