If you are looking for a new home, you have probably noticed a difference between the advertised and the actual square footage of the property. Where does this discrepancy come from? Is it a sales trick? And actually…

How to calculate the square footage of a property?


Since the price of a property is calculated on the basis of its area, many people believe that the sellers use a trick by indicating an inflated area and aim to "artificially" increase the price of the home.

The built-up area is the area that traders (brokers, builders and/or investors) list, as this is also the area on which the property is priced.

A common misconception among buyers is that when determining the square footage, only the clear parts of the rooms are included, i. e. excluding the interior and exterior walls. That is why they often feel misled when they find a discrepancy between the declared area and the actual usable area.

The methods for calculating the areas of the real estate are specified in Ordinance No. 7 of 22 December 2003 of the Spatial Planning Act. They apply to all immovable properties on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria and state the following:

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Built-up living area - What is it?

According to Ordinance No. 7 of 22 December 2003 of the Spatial Planning Act

§ 2. (1) The build-up living area of a dwelling shall be the area bounded by the exterior structural contours of the property's exterior envelope and the centerlines of the dividing walls to adjacent properties or to common areas within the building. To the built-up area of the property (dwelling, etc. ) shall be added the total area of the loggias and balconies measured along their external structural outlines.

(2) The built-up area of a dwelling (or of any other building) situated on more than one storey shall be the sum of the built-up areas of its individual storeys, including the area of the staircases in them.

(3) Where an external wall has windows, balconies or loggias, the full thickness of the wall shall be included in the floor area of the property. Where the external wall is without windows, balconies or loggias, only half the thickness of the wall is included in the floor area, and the remainder of the external wall is counted as part of the total building area

enlightenedThe built-up area of a dwelling is also called the net living area.

It is important to know: when pricing the property, according to the regulations, built-up area of the dwelling is taken into account! But when we are interested in the actual habitation area - we are talking about the so-called living area.


Floor area - What is included?

The floor area is the sum of built-up area of all floors of the main and supplementary buildings on and above the property. The floor area shall include the entire areas of balconies, loggias and terraces on the floors above ground, measured along their external outlines, as well as the built-up areas in the attic spaces of buildings where they are not attic storage spaces.

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Living area  - What does it mean?

In Bulgaria, the livinge area is a term used by traders and buyers to specify the actual habitable area of a property.

Generally, the living area of the property represents the area of the dwelling along the interior walls. It does not include the walls themselves, as well as the columns, trellises, etc. This is the wall-to-wall square footage of the property.

As the term is not official, this "type" of area can only serve as a guide as to how much living space you have. It will not appear on the deed to the property, and will not be considered in pricing and/or in determining taxes, fees, etc.

enlightenedThe living area of a dwelling is also called "useful living area".


Are terraces included in the square footage of the property?

In accordance with Ordinance No. 7 of the Planning Act:


To the built-up area of the propertie (dwelling, etc. ) shall be added the total area of the loggias and balconies measured along their external structural outlines.

Another reason why customers feel misled in their expectations, compared to the real environment, is due to changes in regulations over the years.

While before 1991 terraces, balconies and loggias used to be counted with less than 50 percent of their area in the built-up area (BA) of the dwellings, or even not counted in the BA at all, today they are fully added to the built-up area of the property.

So, if you have two properties, one of 100 sq.m. under a deed from 1990, and another - a new property of 100 sq.m, built at the time of the changes in force, you would have about 10-15 sq.m difference in the living area of the two dwellings.

Is the basement included in the area of the dwelling?

In cases whete the cellar is located outside the boundaries of the property, it is not included in the built-up area of the dwelling.

However, in cases where the cellar is within the dwelling itself, under Ordinance 7 of the Planning Act, they are part of the built-up area of the property.

The built-up area of a dwelling is the area bounded by the external structural outline of the external enveloping walls of the property and the centre lines of the dividing walls to the neighbouring properties or to the common areas of the building [. . . ]
By law, in the deed of each separate object in a building, in addition to the floor area, a percentage (or per cent) of the ideal parts of the common.

More on the topic of common and ideal parts in our next blog article.


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