The superficial area of the private portion

An obligation exists for the seller, namely that of announcing the exact size of the unit he is selling. Most buyers attach great importance to the area/price ratio of an apartment, as this is a data that will greatly influence the price offered or their decision to buy or not. Therefore, before signing the deed of sale, take the time to carefully check the area of the unit.  Discrepancies between what is shown on the plan provided at the signing of the preliminary contract, versus the actual area shown on the cadastral plan or the certificate of location are not isolated cases. However, this problem of surface areas is a source of frequent conflicts in co-ownership. And it's not exclusive to off-plan sales. It can also occur during a resale.

Off plan sale

The calculation of the superficial area of an apartment may lead to a conflict if,  in an off plan sale, the gross area shown on the architectural plan is the information used for the transaction. Thus, you should insist that the developer supplies a detailed plan of the apartment to be built, along with the method used to determine the superficial areas.

Calculation method

Some developers use the gross superficial area, which means that the measurements are taken from the outside of the perimeter walls through the common walls and to the exterior walls of the corridors. Unlike the net superficial area, the gross superficial area generally includes the areas occupied by:

  • The perimeter walls of the apartment;
  • The balconies;
  • The structural columns of the building;
  • The ventilation, plumbing , electrical ducts and shafts;
  • Any other common portions passing through a private portion.

The cadastral plan

The cadastral plan, originally creating the vertical divided co-ownership, cannot be prepared as long as the major components of the building in which the common and private portions are to be located are sufficiently completed. The land surveyor, whose mandate is to measure and determine their boundaries, must establish them only after the actual measurement of the interior of the future private portions is completed  from the physical markers  he has set. The net area shown on the cadastral plan is generally established according to the net measurements calculated from the interior divisions or wall claddings.

Unavoidable discrepancies

Because the signing of the preliminary contract usually occurs before the construction of the co-ownership, you are in essence buying a virtual condo. This is the reason for which the superficial area mentioned in the promotional documents, and on the architectural plans, is an approximation. Therefore, there could be a difference between the gross superficial area and the net superficial area shown in the cadastral plan.

Be careful! You should ask the appropriate questions to the developer, such as:

  • Is the stated superficial area gross or net?
  • Is it a living space superficial area?
  • Does the living superficial area exclude the balcony, the area occupied by walls, doors, windows, partitions and staircases?
  • What happens if the proposed building is modified during construction?

In order to avoid potential conflicts, you should have in your possession a plan describing the net measurements of the rooms of an apartment. You will then be able to verify, before signing the deed of sale before a notary, if the superficial area indicated in the preliminary contract is the same as the one shown in the certificate of location of the immovable.


The problem of the superficial area does not affect only off plan sales. It can also occur during a resale. In this regard, the vendors often disclose the superficial area initially provided by the developer and not the true superficial area, which is shown on the cadastral plan.


WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ! In those cases where there is an important discrepancy between the gross and net superficial areas and the purchaser wishes to be indemnified, he will need to prove this discrepancy, and misrepresentations on the part of the developer .This being established he must convince the court that he would not have purchased the apartment for the agreed price. TO KEEP IN MIND : In the event the measurements supplied by the developer are different from reality, either in the promotional material or in the information supplied by its sales representatives, the developer participates in an illegal commercial practice, as provided by the Consumer Protection Act (C.P.A.). In the case of an off plan sale, we recommend the use of the preliminary contract prepared by the “Garantie de construction résidentielle (GCR)”, which provides the  needed protection.

WARNING ! An off plan sale is generally based on the measurements taken from the architectural plans. This occurs, because the final measurements will be known only when the building is substantially built. Furthermore, the superficial area announced in the promotional material of the developers does not always take into account the appropriate distinction between private portions and common portions for restricted use (for example: the balcony).

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