Void area – What area are you paying for?

When buying a property, most would talk about floor area or built-up area. But imagine being charged for a 1,981 sq ft apartment when the actual floor area is only 1,539 sq ft.

Could you be unknowingly paying for something that is and isn’t there in the same instance? The 441 sq ft of air above your head for example?

Paying for the air you breath or the head-space you enjoy?

Some buyers have been puzzled by the prices charged by the developers – why are the final prices sometimes more than the unit’s gross floor area? The answer is – you could be paying for the headspace provided by a property’s high ceiling.

Developers are calling this a legitimate charge as not many units come with the spacious “feel or ambience”. A recent new property, for example, charged $200,000 for this extra space. Are these spaces truly worth paying for and how much is a reasonable amount to pay, if any.

The Garden Residences.

At the recent launch of The Garden Residences, a condominium in Serangoon, buyers were being charged a premium for 5-bedroom units with high ceilings. These elevated ceilings are special features and can reach up to 4.5 metres in some parts of the house.

The average ceiling height for a 5-room unit is 2.8 metres. The starting price of a normal 5-room unit at The Garden Residences is $2.5 million while one with an elevated ceiling would cost upwards from $2.7 million.

RelatedMixed-use site near Serangoon MRT with a $55 million price tag

Premiums charger or units with special features such as elevated ceilings

These premium chargers are however in adherence to the Housing Developers Rules as long as the developers provide drawn-to-scale floor plans and detailed breakdowns of spaces such as balconies, air-con ledges and void spaces before buyers commit to the option fee.

Before these rulings were implemented, advertising for new properties was oftentimes misleading, promising more than what developers eventually delivered.

An easy way for consumers to understand the void-space concept and costs is for them to add 30% to 50% to the normal psf for the unit. There have been calls for developers to provide more accurate 3D diagrams which highlight the void spaces consumers will be charged for.

RelatedAre property prices reflective of proximity to green spaces?