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Thread: Plot Ratio

  1. #1
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    How does one calculate the usage of the plot ratio? I mean for eg that my condo of 30 yrs has a current plot ratio of 1.6. How can I calculate that the previous developer has actually built it 30 years ago to say 1.8 as the regulation at that time were different. This is especially for old condo that were allocated say 2.1 in the past and changed to 1.6 over the years.

    Any comments will be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Property Hunter

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    Quote Originally Posted by stl67
    How does one calculate the usage of the plot ratio? I mean for eg that my condo of 30 yrs has a current plot ratio of 1.6. How can I calculate that the previous developer has actually built it 30 years ago to say 1.8 as the regulation at that time were different. This is especially for old condo that were allocated say 2.1 in the past and changed to 1.6 over the years.

    Any comments will be appreciated.

    The plot ratio of a site determines the maximum (gross) floor area (GFA) that can be built.

    For example, if a site has an area of 50,000 sq.ft. with a plot ratio of 1.4, then the GFA would be 1.4 x 50,000 = 70,000 sq.ft.

    Here comes the tricky part. In the 1980s, covered car park lots were NOT included in the GFA computations, but open balconies were. Thus, in a typical estate, the built up, excluding the covered car parks but included some open balconies, was 50,000 sq.ft. and the development charge (DC) was paid for the development baseline of 1.0.

    Recently, this site was en bloc(ed) and in the application for the revised DC, the development baseline was given as 1.3 because under the new GFA computations, the covered car park lots were included, but the open balconies were not (there were only four open balconies with a total area of about 200 sq.ft., but the covered car park was much more.

    There was another site with similar configurations, but the developer paid the full DC of 1.4 PR when applying for building approval. However, the market conditions changed then and the developer did not build the smallest of three blocks and with the remaining two blocks built up to only 1.0 PR. But DC once paid cannot be refunded.

    Recently, this second site was also en bloc(ed), but the new developer did not have to pay any development charge because the previous developer had paid to the max.

    In another development in the Bukit Timah area, the condo was fully built to 1.6 some 30 years ago. They are in the process of a collective sale and applied for the development baseline and was surprised to find that the current built up exceeded the original 1.6, at 1.7.

    How could this be, you asked? Yes, it is possible because a strip of land was acquired by SLA for road widening. Thus, the new computations of GFA is based on the reduced plot size. Fortunately, URA approved the redevelopment at 1.7 PR.

    In your case, you should apply for the new development baseline to see what is the current GFA allowed and whether any DC is payable because the method in computing the DC changes as fast as the weather and any development baseline given becomes obsolete after six months.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for sharing. Say now our site is 65500 so we can built up to 1.4*65500= 91700. The total 50 units add up in our condo is about 80000 excluding car park, swimming pool and a small sports area. So in our case, has our area exceed 91700 or 1.4 plot ratio?
    Still a bit confused.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by stl67
    Thanks for sharing. Say now our site is 65500 so we can built up to 1.4*65500= 91700. The total 50 units add up in our condo is about 80000 excluding car park, swimming pool and a small sports area. So in our case, has our area exceed 91700 or 1.4 plot ratio?
    Still a bit confused.

    If your car park is covered, then you will need to add to the 80,000 built up to arrive at the total GFA. But important thing is the design.

    For example, in a 3-storey condo, the first 2 levels belonged to one unit (a maisonette) with an apartment in the third level. The car park is covered by the floor of the third level, but because of its high ceiling, i.e. no second level above the car park, the GFA computations is now taken to be twice that of the car park (multiplied by two levels although the car takes only one level).

    That estate has plot size of about 75,000 sq.ft. and with a similar plot ratio of 1.4, the max GFA is about 105,000 sq.ft., but the current built-up, excluding the car park is less than 80,000 sq.ft., however, the DC baseline is revised to 1.3 when the covered car parks are included.

    Swimming pools, playground, open car park lots, sports area (monkey bars, foot massage areas, etc.,) are not included in the GFA as long as they are open (no ceiling). For this reason, you will find some condos with a covered car park structure, but instead of a full ceiling, wooden bars (called pergolas) are used as the roof such that rain falls through (so it is open). For shade, the condo plants creepers across the wooden timber, but rainwater still falls through.

    Open balconies, which were originally included because the upper level's floor is the ceiling, has since been excluded in the late 1990s when the planning authorities wanted to encourage the garden city concept. In fact, in 2000 or 2001, a 10% bonus has been given to encourage architects to design more open balconies.

    For this reason, the net saleable space is now taken as 100% of the GFA instead of the previous 85% to 90% because of the bonus. Lift shafts, lift landings, staircases, corridors, and such spaces are included in the GFA although not liveable space. So are the swimming pool toilets, PES (private enclosed spaces), office, gym, etc.

    The best way to find out is to apply for the development baseline which cost about $1,500 - $2,000 to the URA, BUT this is assumed you have a council member who is an architect and willing to do the computations for free, otherwise architects charge a fee between $6,000 and $10,000, making the total application fee in the region of between $8,000 and $12,000.
    Last edited by James Tan; 04-05-08 at 21:47.

  5. #5
    aa
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    thanks for sharing. We have seen many cases where the existing plot ratio was higher than the plot ratio granted under the Master plan 2003 and eventually the developer who bought the place for redevelopment without paying additional DC to build up to the existing plot ratio.

    How can we determine what is the existing plot ratio at our condo? if we suspect that the plot ration granted under the Master Plan 2003 was lower than the existing plot ratio and we are thinking of enbloc, what can we do?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by aa
    thanks for sharing. We have seen many cases where the existing plot ratio was higher than the plot ratio granted under the Master plan 2003 and eventually the developer who bought the place for redevelopment without paying additional DC to build up to the existing plot ratio.

    How can we determine what is the existing plot ratio at our condo? if we suspect that the plot ration granted under the Master Plan 2003 was lower than the existing plot ratio and we are thinking of enbloc, what can we do?

    The only way is to make a baseline aplication to the URA.

    If you are planning to sell collectively (en bloc), let your marketing agent apply for the building baseline because he needs the development charge payable in order to project the reserve price for you, and also for his marketing kit.

    But beware. Although most of the marketing agents would apply for the baseline at their own cost since it is a key information they need to supply to the developers as part of their marketing tool, some of the less professional marketing agents would try to ask you to pay for it: NEVER.

    For en bloc sale, remember that it is no sale NO COST to you. Thus, they have to pay for the first signing up buffet lunch or dinner at their own expense, first valuation and the development baseline application, as well as the cost of advertisements in the local papers.

    Of course, if the sale is unsuccessful, they have to absorb all the above costs, but if the sale is successful, they go laughing all the way to the bank.

    Note that legal fees are now some three times more than last year before the en bloc laws were amended. Law firms no longer quote on a fee per unit basis, but on a percentage basis like marketing agents. Typically, it is 0.15 to 0.3 of 1 percent of the selling price, plus disbursements of about $200 per unit, plus other fees of applying to STB, attendance at STB and the High Court, etc.

    Marketing agents have raised their fees from 0.5% to about 0.8% and some are asking the full 1.0%.

  7. #7
    Junior

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Tan
    The only way is to make a baseline aplication to the URA.

    If you are planning to sell collectively (en bloc), let your marketing agent apply for the building baseline because he needs the development charge payable in order to project the reserve price for you, and also for his marketing kit.
    Is there anyway to get a rough idea of the development baseline without going through all the formal submission and fees?

    e.g. any way to find out what's the allowed plot ratio under the old 1980 masterplan?

    That masterplan doesn't seem to indicate plot ratio.

    I asked URA, they said last time used persons per hectare (pph) and then convert here and there using some formula. Very confusing.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlrx
    Is there anyway to get a rough idea of the development baseline without going through all the formal submission and fees?

    e.g. any way to find out what's the allowed plot ratio under the old 1980 masterplan?

    That masterplan doesn't seem to indicate plot ratio.

    I asked URA, they said last time used persons per hectare (pph) and then convert here and there using some formula. Very confusing.

    Yes, it is very confusing because URA kept on changing the way development baselines are computed. That is why you need to hire an architect to do the job and the architect has to charge thousands of dollars because he need to update himself with the latest rules and methods of computation before he can do the job.

    Yes, you can do a ROUGH estimate. I repeat, ROUGH.

    Take the original as-built plans and compute ALL built-up areas, inclusive of the bin centre, office, PES areas, stairways, covered walkways, lift lobbies, covered car parks, etc. -- in other words, any structure that has a roof over it, except those with a retractable canopy.

    For plot ratio, you can check with URA. Then multiply the plot ratio by the plot size to get you the max permissible GFA, divide your total built-up by the GFA to arrive at the baseline.

    Remember, this is only a rough guide as to whether there is slack GFA, but not whether development charges (DC) are payable because it would depend on whether the previous developer paid the full DC, and also the latest method of computating the GFA.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Tan
    If your car park is covered, then you will need to add to the 80,000 built up to arrive at the total GFA. But important thing is the design.

    For example, in a 3-storey condo, the first 2 levels belonged to one unit (a maisonette) with an apartment in the third level. The car park is covered by the floor of the third level, but because of its high ceiling, i.e. no second level above the car park, the GFA computations is now taken to be twice that of the car park (multiplied by two levels although the car takes only one level).

    That estate has plot size of about 75,000 sq.ft. and with a similar plot ratio of 1.4, the max GFA is about 105,000 sq.ft., but the current built-up, excluding the car park is less than 80,000 sq.ft., however, the DC baseline is revised to 1.3 when the covered car parks are included.

    Swimming pools, playground, open car park lots, sports area (monkey bars, foot massage areas, etc.,) are not included in the GFA as long as they are open (no ceiling). For this reason, you will find some condos with a covered car park structure, but instead of a full ceiling, wooden bars (called pergolas) are used as the roof such that rain falls through (so it is open). For shade, the condo plants creepers across the wooden timber, but rainwater still falls through.

    Open balconies, which were originally included because the upper level's floor is the ceiling, has since been excluded in the late 1990s when the planning authorities wanted to encourage the garden city concept. In fact, in 2000 or 2001, a 10% bonus has been given to encourage architects to design more open balconies.

    For this reason, the net saleable space is now taken as 100% of the GFA instead of the previous 85% to 90% because of the bonus. Lift shafts, lift landings, staircases, corridors, and such spaces are included in the GFA although not liveable space. So are the swimming pool toilets, PES (private enclosed spaces), office, gym, etc.

    The best way to find out is to apply for the development baseline which cost about $1,500 - $2,000 to the URA, BUT this is assumed you have a council member who is an architect and willing to do the computations for free, otherwise architects charge a fee between $6,000 and $10,000, making the total application fee in the region of between $8,000 and $12,000.
    Thanks for the informations.

    Recently, many new projects often comes with big balcony, bay window or planters. Are these included in the GFA ? I am wondering whether the developers are exploiting the GFA since these are included in the selling price.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perfume
    Thanks for the informations.

    Recently, many new projects often comes with big balcony, bay window or planters. Are these included in the GFA ? I am wondering whether the developers are exploiting the GFA since these are included in the selling price.

    Yes, you are right; these open balconies or planter boxes are not included in the GFA, in fact, they got a 10% GFA bonus.

    Of course, the developer includes these in their selling prices, including the common areas and facilities, otherwise the rate per sq.ft. would be much lower.

    One good thing about the change (of excluding open balconies in the GFA) is that balconies are now much bigger and more usable. Back in the 1908s and 1990s, many of these balconies were less than half a meter wide, just standing space. They were really useless space meant for a few pots of plants and the aircon compressor.

    Now it is big enough to put a garden table and some chairs for breakfast if you face the rising sun.

  11. #11
    birdhuge
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    thanks for the useful info.

    Need some professional judgement from your guys.

    Our 6 storey one block building has 48 units, each unit has about 1700 sqf built in area. There are 2 lift on the building. Can we assume 90% efficiency basis to estimate the total built in area of the building?

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