Decoding Quantity Surveying:  Understanding GBA, GFA, FECA, UCA, NLA and Other Abbreviations in the Construction Industry

Quantity surveying, often referred to as QS, is a crucial aspect of the construction industry, ensuring projects stay on budget and meet quality standards. But within this field, there are specific terms and abbreviations that might seem like a jumble of letters to the uninitiated. Let’s untangle some of them and shed light on some common terms: GFA, FECA, UCA and NLA, along with a glance at the most frequently used abbreviations on construction blueprints.

GBA, GFA, FECA, UCA and NLA: What’s the Difference?

GBA (Gross Building Area): The total enclosed and unenclosed area of the building at all building floor levels measured between the normal OUTSIDE face of any enclosing walls, balustrades and supports.

FECA (Fully Enclosed Covered Area): The sum of all such areas at all building floor levels, including basements (except unexcavated portions), floored roof spaces and attics, garages, penthouses, enclosed porches and attached enclosed covered ways alongside buildings, equipment rooms, lift shafts, vertical ducts, staircases and any other fully enclosed spaces and usable areas of the building, computed by measuring from the normal inside face of exterior walls ignoring any projections such as plinths, columns, piers and the like which project from the normal inside face of exterior walls. It shall not include open courts, light wells, connecting or isolated covered ways and net open areas of upper portions of rooms, lobbies, halls, interstitial spaces and the like which extend through the storey

UCA (Unenclosed Covered Area): The sum of all such areas at all building floor levels, including roofed balconies, open verandas, porches and porticos, attached open covered ways alongside buildings, under crofts and usable space under buildings, unenclosed access galleries and any other trafficable covered areas of the building which are not totally enclosed by full height walls, computed by measuring the area between the enclosing walls or balustrade i.e. from the inside face of the UCA excluding the wall or balustrade thickness.

GFA (Gross Floor Area): GFA is the sum of both the enclosed (FECA) and unenclosed (UCA) areas as defined above.

NLA (Net Lettable Area): NLA refers to the total floor area of a building that can be rented out to tenants. In quantity surveying, NLA calculations are essential for determining rental values and evaluating the financial feasibility of a property development project. Quantity surveyors consider factors such as usable floor space, common areas, and circulation spaces to arrive at the NLA.

Common Abbreviations in Quantity Surveying and Construction Blueprints

  • BOQ (Bill of Quantities): A detailed list of materials, parts, and labour, with their costs, required to complete a construction project.
  • CAD (Computer-Aided Design): Software used for creating detailed designs and blueprints of construction projects.
  • DWG (Drawing): A file format used for storing two and three-dimensional design data and metadata.
  • EDC (Estimated Development Cost): is used to calculate fees payable for local, regional and state-significant development and to determine planning approval pathways.
  • SQM (Square Meter): A unit of measurement for area, commonly used in construction for measuring floor space.
  • BWIC – Builders Work in Connection: Work associated with a specific trade item. However, not specifically forming part of a specific trade e.g. creating a penetration for a specific service to allow rough in works.
  • HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning): Systems responsible for controlling indoor temperature, humidity, and air quality in buildings.
  • OS&E (Operating Supplies and Equipment): Items required for the day-to-day operations of a building, such as furniture, fixtures, and kitchen equipment.

Understanding these abbreviations can help stakeholders communicate more efficiently and effectively during the construction process, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding project specifications and requirements.

In conclusion, quantity surveying plays a pivotal role in the success of construction projects, and having a clear understanding of terms like GFA,  UCA, FECA, and NLA, along with common abbreviations used in the industry, is essential for effective project management and communication. You may also want to checkout our information page listing many more of the abbreviations used in the Quantity Surveying and Construction industry.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a newcomer to the construction world, mastering these concepts will undoubtedly contribute to your success in the field.


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