Zoning is a standard method of valuing and comparing retail premises. Shops or retail premises are divided into zones, starting from the window. Typically, each zone has a depth of 6.1 metres although this can vary depending on the location of the property. Zones become less valuable the further they are from the window/entrance. Zone A, which is the closest, is the most valuable as it has the highest potential to generate business for the shop. Zone B is next, then Zone C. Anything after Zone C is usually defined as the remainder.
The VOA uses standard measuring methods based on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) former code of measuring practices.
There are two common methods -
The net internal area (NIA) method of measurement is one and is generally applied to:
• Other retail premises, such as banks, hairdressers, restaurants
The gross internal area (GIA) method of measurement is generally applied to industrial property such as warehouses or manufacturing units.
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Net Internal Area
The net internal area (NIA) is the total usable area of each floor within a building, measured to the inside face of the boundary walls (ignoring skirting boards).
Areas measured include:
- Any built-in cupboards or units
- Perimeter skirting boards, mouldings and trunking
- Open circulation areas such as atria, corridors, and entrance halls
- Partition walls and other dividing elements
Areas that are excluded are:
- Internal structural walls
- Walls (whether structural or not) enclosing excluded areas
- Piers, columns, chimney breasts, ducts, and other projections
- Cleaner’s cupboards
- Lifts, lift rooms, lift wells
- Stairwells and landings
- Stairwells, entrance halls, atria, landings, and balconies used in common or for essential access
- Corridors and other circulation areas used in common with other occupiers or of a permanent essential nature
- Boiler rooms, fuel stores, plant rooms and tank rooms other than those of a trade process nature
- Car parking areas
- Spaces occupied by cooling and heating equipment, air conditioning systems and ducting which renders the space substantially unusable
- Areas with a headroom of less than 1.5m
- Toilets and associated lobbies, unless additional toilets have been installed
- Areas under the control of service or other external authorities
Gross Internal Area
This is the area of a building that’s measured to the internal face of the external walls at each floor level, which includes:
- Areas occupied by internal walls and partitions
- Columns, piers chimney breasts, stairwells, lift-wells, other internal projections, vertical ducts
- Atria and entrance halls with clear height above, measured at base level only
- Internal open-sided balconies, walkways
- Structural, raked, or stepped floors are treated as a level floor, measured horizontally
- Horizontal floors with permanent access below structural, raked, or stepped floors
- Corridors of a permanent essential nature (such as fire corridors and smoke lobbies)
- Areas in the roof space intended for use with permanent access
- Mezzanine areas intended for use with permanent access
- Lift rooms, plant rooms, fuel stores and tank rooms which are housed in a covered structure of a permanent nature, whether above the main roof level or not
- Service accommodation such as toilets, toilet lobbies, bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, cleaners’ rooms
- Projection rooms
- Voids over stairwells and lift shafts on upper floors
- Loading bays
- Areas with a headroom of less than 1.5m
- Pavement vaults
The Gross Internal Area method excludes:
- Perimeter wall thickness and external projections
- External open-sided balconies, covered ways and fire escapes
- Voids over or under structural, raked, or stepped floors
- Greenhouses, garden stores, fuel stores and the like in residential property
- Open ground floors
Adjustments and end adjustments
In certain circumstances, the VOA may make adjustments to recognise a disadvantage or advantage in the property (or parts of it) compared to other broadly similar properties.
For example, an air-conditioned office might have an adjusted value if other local offices don’t. The adjustment may be on part of the assessment or the whole (as an end adjustment).