We sometimes hear of properties with very high ceiling which may sometimes include void areas. So what exactly is void area and what does it mean?
A void area or void space refers to the empty or void space which is above the floor of a unit. Void areas, if any, are also part of the total saleable floor area of the unit. It is sometimes also called ‘air space’ or consisting of ‘double volume height’.
If you look closely at the picture above, it shows the void area of a unit which consists of a mezzanine or upper deck.
Void areas can usually be found in properties with exceptionally high ceiling.
Examples of Void Areas
An example of a property which includes void area would be an industrial warehouse or factory unit with approved built-in mezzanine or upper deck with high ceiling up to 8 metre ceiling height for the portion without mezzanine. The portion without the mezzanine and above the floor also happens to be included in the total saleable area for this particular industrial unit. For a better understanding, you may also refer to the picture above which illustrates the void area clearly.
In residential context, an example would be purchasing a condominium penthouse with 4.5m ceiling in the living area. Void areas can also be areas above staircases, or can also be found in bungalows and terrace houses.
Why Understanding Void Area is Important
This can also mean that units with void areas may appear to have a lower per square feet prices as compared to a unit without void area.
The potential purchaser may have an impression that the unit with void area and with high ceiling has a much more attractive price per square feet as compared to a unit with an average ceiling height and would think that it is a better deal, which is why it is important to understand what void areas really are before finalising on any property purchase.
How to Maximise Void Areas
Although you are paying for the space, it may not always be a bad thing. For example, if you happen to own or have leased an industrial property with double volume or with void area, you may consider to have approved racking systems in order to maximise the space and utilise the high ceiling within the unit.
In residential context, you may consider having an approved loft area of up to 5 square metres where it may be an area for home office or a study area. To be sure everything is according to the approved guidelines, you may consider engaging an experienced contractor or consultant to assist.
How to be Sure that the Total Area Includes or Excludes Void Space for the Following Types of Properties
Direct from Developer Purchase
Usually, the detailed breakdown of a unit’s total floor area (i.e approximate size of living, dining, balcony, bedrooms and void areas, if any) can be found in the Sale and Purchase or S&P agreement and you may read through these details before putting pen to paper with your signature. Although there may be many pages, you may identify the key information and go through them once before committing to your purchase.
If your purchase is an uncompleted sub-sale property or in simpler terms a property under construction which has been sold by a purchaser who has initially bought directly from the developer, you may request for a copy of the Certificate of Strata Area from the seller which would include the floor area of the property, including void areas, if there is any.
Completed Property Purchase
For purchase of completed resale property with Subsidiary Strata Certificate of Title or SSCT issued by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), you may refer to the Subsidiary Strata Certificate of Title to find out what is the area of the unit and if the unit includes any void areas. Void areas, if any will be shown on the Subsidiary Strata Certificate of Titles (SSCT) for those that are issued on or after 1st of August 2012.
Also, before purchasing a completed property, purchasers may also buy the Strata Certified Plan (CPST) from Singapore Land Authority’s Integrated Land Information Service online via INLIS website to check if the unit has void areas.
Decking on Void Areas to Extend Floor Space
If you are wondering if it is possible to deck on void areas in order to increase the usable floor area of the unit, these are the relevant clearance that you may need to obtain :
Approval from MCST
Consent from the Management Corporation of the building or more commonly known as MCST. The MCST will only decide to allow the works to be done when there are valid votes of at least 90% of the share value which are in favour of the proposal.
Approval from URA
Besides the clearance from the building’s MCST, approvals from the Urban Redevelopment Authority or the URA may also be required as the decking void areas may increase the overall Gross Floor Area or GFA of the development. This is necessary as every development has a specific maximum allowable Gross Floor Area and void areas are not included as part of the total gross floor area.