APC competency: Measuring masterclass

APC-SeriesKate Taylor explores the two levels of the measurement competency and discusses how candidates can demonstrate their knowledge to assessors at APC final assessment by being up to date and practical

Measurement is a core competency for many of the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (“APC”) property pathways. The vast majority of candidates will declare competence in measurement to level 2, with only geomatics surveyors taking measurement to level 3. Indeed, the RICS’ Commercial Property Pathway Guide notes explicitly that level three is only suitable for candidates with specialist knowledge and experience of sophisticated measurement and data capture practice. As a consequence, this article focuses on levels 1 and 2.

Measurement’s easy, isn’t it?

Despite being a core skill – used daily – by surveyors, measurement is often taken for granted by candidates. However, this competency is important to assessors because the measurements gathered will (together with inspection – see EG, 31 October, p112) underpin the advice to the client.

Property requirements are often based on size. The space and how it can be used will be a key factor in many surveying functions, including valuation, leasing and letting, landlord and tenant, property management, property taxation, planning, insurance, investment, property finance and strategic decision making. The numbers associated with size will also be used in analysis involving comparable rents and yields, benchmarking, service charges, taxation, cost benefit analysis, return on investment and development appraisal. In other words, for any surveying function where the property is broken down to a unit price, measurement is a key part of knowing the property.

Measurement is currently the hottest of hot topics. The changes in this area are representative of an on-going trend in the profession towards international standards, as exemplified by the International Valuation Standards and International Financial Reporting Standards. The RICS has enthusiastically adopted globalisation and it follows that a good knowledge of this area will be expected at final assessment at level 1.

International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS)

The IPMS were introduced as a result of client pressure in the wake of the global financial crisis to provide consistent property measurement worldwide. Candidates should ensure that they have read the RICS’ Professional Statement on Property Measurement. This is a new class of RICS document, which is mandatory, along with RICS’ Practice Statements and Professional Standards. Candidates need to keep the variances in status in mind. For example, the existing Code of Measuring Practice (6th edition) has guidance note status, meaning that it is recommended best practice. This is an important distinction in demonstrating rules of conduct in relation to rule 4: competence.

The good news is that the IPMS currently only applies to offices. There are three new bases of measurement: IPMS 1, IPMS 2 and IPMS 3. The numbered standards represent the drive to a new language because terms like GIA and NIA have different meanings elsewhere in the world. It is also good news that although there are some significant differences, IPMS 1 is similar to GEA; IPMS 2 is similar to GIA; and IPMS 3 is similar to NIA (albeit less so). IPMS 3 is the area in exclusive occupation to an occupier excluding standard facilities but including columns.

Some candidates might query why columns are included here. They are because a key aim of the international standards is to separate the disciplines of measurement and valuation. As a consequence, columns are not excluded from the area, they are reflected in the valuation.

Practical issues will include using a converter provided by the RICS for its members on the website and a transitional period of dual reporting to ensure consistency between analysis and valuation.

Despite currently being confined to offices, IPMS will be extended to cover all the various property categories in time. Residential is next (see EG, 8 August 2015, p51). The consultation period for the extension of IPMS into this sector closed on 30 September, the final standards will be published soon and another RICS Professional Statement will follow. Candidates should be alert to these changes and ensure that they are familiar with the content provided on the IMPS website.

The Code of Measuring Practice still applies to retail, industrial and residential. As a consequence, candidates will still need to revise that, along with the traditional bases of gross internal area, net internal area and gross external area.

Level 2

Despite the current potential pitfalls for level 1, level 2 is still about demonstrating skill in gathering those vital statistics. Candidates need to be able to describe the techniques used, for example, dealing with a shop fit-out that obstructs measurement. Discussion of the appropriate tools will also be required, such as a laser measurer and its potential risks. Candidates might, for example, be asked when they last calibrated a laser. In that instance, candidates will need to describe specific examples in the experience record and be ready to talk about the measurement of the case study subject. They should also watch out for any questions that may arise from related photographs.

The type of questions will depend on the type of property being described. For example, zoning may be discussed in conjunction with retail, and eaves height with industrial. Use common sense and be prepared to talk about the measurement of the specific examples given.

Don’t forget that at level 2, taking the measurements is only half the story. Candidates need to calculate the total floor area and be able to describe how this is done without using software. It is basic geometry but important nonetheless. Think about measurement tolerance, scale of the plan and how the measurements were actually used when describing the analysis. Good analysis skills will give the assessors confidence in a candidate’s ability to add value to a client’s interest.

Despite its daily use, measurement is not a soft topic and, given the current changes in the field, will remain that way.

Hot topics

IPMS Residential is the next class to be published

RICS Practice Statement – Property Measurement (offices) and the date of adoption

Practical implications such as dual reporting

Example questions*

Level 1

  • What is IPMS?
  • Why has it been introduced?

Level 2

  • How did you measure the subject property?
  • How did you treat the spiral staircase in zone B, for example?

*Don’t assume that the questions given here will be asked at an APC assessment. Assessors will focus on and pose questions on the basis of the candidate’s declared competencies, pathway guide requirements, up to date developed knowledge base and the examples provided in their summary of experience, etc.

Useful resources

RICS APC Guides These should be read at least once every three to four months and fully understood. Candidates from outside the UK also need to check their regional web sites for any local APC requirements: www.rics.org

APC Explained Masterclass This helps candidates to understand what needs to be done to achieve the APC, including a walk-through of the DeLever APC process timeline and myAPC diary with an explanation of what to do at each key milestone: www.delever.com

Timeline wallchart An A2 pictorial view of the whole APC process, based on the RICS guides and Jon Lever’s knowledge and experience of the APC. It can be used to track progress. Free copies available at: www.delever.com


International Property Measurement Standards at the RICS. Download IPMS for Offices at: www.rics.org

IPMSC: www.ipmsc.org

IPMS explained videos: www.delever.tv

Supervisors and counsellors: how to help

A whole team can benefit by encouraging candidates to cascade their learning on IPMS. This can be achieved by getting the candidate to do a short presentation at a team meeting. In this way, they revise the key points, practice their presentation skills and develop the technical knowledge of other team members in vital emerging measurement techniques.

Kate Taylor FRICS is an APC chair and a DeLever APC coach. Follow Kate Taylor and Jon Lever on Twitter: @katetay73593006 and @deleverapc

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