You might have been looking for a commercial property, and wondered, ‘What does GBA mean in commercial real estate? In the property market, particularly in regards to commercial real estate, there are many different ways of calculating the area of a property or building. As such, it is important to understand the differences between them, so when you look for your next commercial property, you will be able to understand exactly what you are paying for. We have gone through and explained some of the key terms used when calculating the area of a commercial property.

What does GBA (Gross Building Area) mean? 

GBA, or Gross Building Area, is a unit of measurement unit used in commercial property valuations. This measurement differs from the measurement type of residential real estate, which predominantly uses GLA or Gross Living Area.  

GBA includes the total enclosed area of a building and the sum total of all floors. This is determined by the slab area measured to the exterior surface of the exterior walls, excluding elevator shaft openings.

What is GLA (Gross Living Area)? 

Gross Living Area has been defined by the Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal, as the “Total area of finished, above-grade residential space; calculated by measuring the outside perimeter of the structure and includes only finished, habitable, above-grade living space. Finished basements and attic areas are not generally included in the gross living area.”, or put simply, the habitable area of the property, including both heated and cooled areas. 

GLA will also tend to include common areas and areas that the tenant can use but do not necessarily occupy. This can include areas such as elevator space, common bathrooms, stairwells and other shared spaces. It usually includes certain common areas, elevators, common bathrooms, stairwells, and other portions of the building that the tenants do not occupy, but can use.

What is the difference between GBA and GLA?

The reason why commercial property uses a different unit of measurement is that areas of the property that are not heated or cooled may still be usable aspects of the property. Therefore GBA takes into account the total or gross building area. A GBA evaluation will generally not include below-ground space as part of their square footage equation but will include the space in their appraisal valuation

What is NLA/NRA (Net Leasable Area/Net Rentable Area)?

Another term that may be used is NLA/NRA, which stands for Net Leasable Area/Net Rentable Area. This is used to measure the total area of floor space that may be rented out to a tenant. This differs from GBA, as it will generally exclude common areas, such as a shared pantry, or shared washrooms, or reception areas, as well as excluding areas dedicated to the heating and/or cooling of the building, as well as the building’s utility areas.  

Tenants and property owners should also be aware of the term BUA or Built-Up Area. This is the sum of all usable areas, circulation areas, service areas, balconies, plus the area of all factored non and semi-enclosed areas. 

How to calculate GBA? 

GBA is calculated by measuring to the outside finished surface of the permanent outer building walls, without any deductions for features such as stairwells, or walkways, common areas and shared spaces, alongside unusable or non-leasable areas. This type of calculation is generally done for larger commercial spaces with a high number of square footage. So, to answer the question, ‘What does GBA mean in commercial real estate?’, simply put, it is just one of many units of measurement for commercial property. 

Navigating the commercial property market can be a complex process, especially when there are so many different terms and industry-specific vocabulary. It is therefore important to work with a trusted real estate professional that specialises in commercial property. A specialised commercial property consultant will be able to talk you through all the terms you need to know and help you through the entire process.