Area overview

For building projects, the area overview (also called room list or space program) is one of the most important overviews that is available in BriefBuilder.

The overview is a compilation of all the spatial objects in your project (buildings, groups of spaces, spaces, outdoor spaces) with their quantities and their sizes. It is a crucial overview because it shows the total size of the project in terms of both usable and gross floor area.

The overview can be accessed via the main menu on left, under Overviews.

See below for a more detailed explanation.

Note: the overview’s colour coding corresponds with that of the adjacency diagram.


Before you see the actual area overview, there is a selection window that allows you to make a (pre)selection of what you want to see. There are three filters:

Tree type/tree part

Here you can select in which part of your project you are interested in. Mostly relevant for large projects where you may e.g. be interested to see the area overview of a particular building or building part.


If you have applied labels to your spaces, you can use this filter to select all spatial objects with a particular label (e.g. all work spaces, all support spaces, all meeting spaces etc.) to be able calculate and see the total size of that particular group of spaces.

Spaces or outdoor spaces

In the BriefBuilder application, we make a distinction between (indoor) spaces and outdoor spaces as these can have different properties. This means that these have their own area overviews as well. The default is on spaces.

The overview

Once you have made your selection—and you have clicked on Show—you get to see the actual area overview. In this view, we make a difference between:

  • Usable floor area (UFA)
  • Gross floor area (GFA)

Both have their own set of columns, which will be explained below.

TIP: you can choose which table parts you want to see in the overview by means of the icon next to the table’s name.

Usable floor area (UFA)

This part shows all the defined requirements in your project in relation to the quantities and sizes of spaces.

(click on image to enlarge)

It features the following columns:

  • Items: the name of the spatial object (e.g. office room)
  • Quantity: the number of spatial objects that is required (e.g. 1)
  • Quantity note: a possible note regarding the quantity (e.g. “to be located on 1st floor”)
  • Usable floor area: the size of a spatial object in terms of usable square meters (e.g. 10 sqm)
  • Floor area note: a possible note regarding the space’s size (e.g. “cannot be smaller”)
  • Total: the calculated total usable floor area (e.g. 10 sqm)

Please note that we use the term usable floor area (UFA) as a default. This term refers the amount of square meters that is directly needed by the building’s users, not including areas for technical services (e.g. shafts), construction elements (e.g. walls), and primary circulation (e.g. lobbies)

It may be, however, that you prefer to use another term (e.g. net area or net internal area). Such a change can easily be made via the standard properties setting menu. It is also where you can also change the unit of measure (e.g. sqft instead of sqm) or the used definition. See example below.  

To change the names of standard properties go to:
Settings > Requirements > Standard properties > Space

Gross floor area (GFA)

This part of the overview concerns the calculation of the gross floor area (GFA) of your project. The exact definition of what GFA is can differ per country, but generally it is defined as the total floor area contained within the building (or a part of it) measured to the external face of the external walls and thus including floor area used for shafts, walls etc.

The total GFA is calculated in BriefBuilder by multiplying the usable floor areas with a particular factor (called a GFA factor in BriefBuilder, also referred to as gross/net ratio or GFA/UFA ratio). A simple example: if you have 40 sqm of UFA, and the GFA factor is 1.6, you will get a total of 64 sqm GFA (see example below).

In the top row, you see a total of 40 sqm UFA, which is then multiplied by a factor of 1.6, to come to a total of 64 smq GFA, which means that 24 additional smq’s have been added
(click on image to enlarge)

In this part of the table, you can see the following columns:

  • GFA factor: the factor that you want to apply to a specific level or specific part of your project (e.g. 1.6)
  • GFA added: the sqms that you are adding by applying the aforementioned GFA factor (e.g. 24 sqm)
  • Total: the calculated total gross floor area. Please note that this figure is the sum of total usable floor area, plus the added GFA’s of that level, plus all the GFA’s that have been added on the underlying levels (e.g. 64 sqm)
  • GFA factor (total): the overall GFA factor, which is calculated by dividing the total gross floor by the total usable floor area (e.g. 1.6)
  • Note: a possible note regarding the total of GFA (e.g. “should not exceed 70 sqm”)

Please note: the GFA factor in the first column is not necessarily the same as the GFA factor (total) in the last column. This is because the first factor is an ‘input factor’ for that particular level. The latter is the ‘calculated factor’, based on the total GFA and the total UFA.

How to go from UFA to GFA?

It is important to know that you can work with the GFA factor in three different ways:

(1) A GFA factor on building level

This is the simplest and easiest way of working with a GFA factor: you only define the factor on building level. It is a very correct way of working in the sense that it takes into account that many (gross) areas, such plant rooms or a central lobby, can only be assigned to the building as a whole and not to parts of it.

See the simple example below where a GFA factor of 1.6 has been applied to the building as a whole.

GFA factor at building level only (click on image to enlarge)

(2) GFA factors on group level (lowest level)

In some projects — in particular mixed-use projects — it can be that you want to differentiate the GFA factor for different kinds of functions.

For example: when working on a research building, you may use a factor of 1.5 for the office spaces and a factor of 1.7 for the lab spaces (as these need more technical services). If this is the case, we recommend that you create a group of spaces called ‘office spaces’ and one called ‘lab spaces’ and add the GFA at that level (and thus not at building level).

See below for how that looks. It is a different way of calculating gross floor area, although it can still result in the same overall factor for the building as whole (1.6).

Factor at (lowest) group level (click on image to enlarge)

(3) GFA factors on multiple levels

It is also possible to combine these two approaches. In that case, you are adding GFA at multiple levels. Mathematically there is nothing wrong with this, but you have to be aware of what you are doing: you are adding square meters at every level for which you have defined a GFA factor.

See the example below where the lab spaces have a factor of 1.6 and the office spaces a factor of 1.4. And then an additional factor of 1.1 has been added on building level, resulting in an overall factor of 1.6.

Note the difference in the GFA factor for building in the first column (1.1) and the GFA factor (total) in the last column (1.6). These are different because the first is only being used to add extra square meters, on top of the gross floor areas that have already been added on the levels below.

GFA factor at multiple levels (click on image to enlarge)

Please note: gross floor area (GFA) is a system property that is used for calculation purposes only. This means that you cannot change the property’s name.

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