New Construction - is 2% variance in m2 acceptable?

We are about to go to the notary and formally sign for a new construction project in Gland. There is a term in the notary document that says we are not allowed to claim compensation if the size of the apartment is smaller than the advertised m2 by 2% or less. I already asked a friend who is buying another project in Geneva and he said his notary did not have this.

My question for you refined gentlemen and ladies: is this normal?? do I throw a hissy fit and fight it? or choose my battle elsewhere a la Sun Tzu.

I am suspicious for a couple of reasons:
-The plot of land is a tight build between two other buildings. Space seems to be a carefully calculated premium
-Detailed plans were provided to us only after asking several times and only after 25k reservation. We were given the total m2 per room before this and made the reservation based on that.
-Detailed plans were still quite general with only main dimensions given for each room and we were told its 1:100 so use a ruler to figure out the details.

The total m2 is 78.8 so 2% is 1.5m2… that is a lot for us. Like almost the size of a guest bathroom. It would pretty much invalidate a desire for habitation if it was concentrated in one place.

Just to put back into reference, your m2 number corresponds to a box of about 8.88 x 8.88. Just reducing it by 8 cm each side you get “only” 77.4 m2, which is close to the 1.5 m2.

First of all, on length measurements you have easily 0.5-1% deviance tolerance, so actually the 2% tolerance on m2 comes close to what is actually measurable (without increasing building costs).

By the way, with 1.5 m2, you are not close to a guest bathroom, you need more like 2-2.5 m2 (and only toilet, no shower).

However, I guess for you it is more important that the measurements are right per room the than the overall m2. Is there any clause about this in your contract ? Maybe ask for 2% tolerance on the lengths for each room since you already have the 1:100 plans ?


The notary is supposed to be neutral and protect both parties. Suggest you contact him / her ASAP and ask if this is a standard clause in Vaud. Also to understand on what basis the m2 is defined in case you are not clear

Per link below it seems the custom in Vaud is that m2 is based on internal space + balcony but excluding external walls. I can imagine it is difficult to know precisely how thick external walls will be after adding insulation etc. However 4cm tolerance on each of the 4 external walls seems a lot. It may be they have been over aggressive in their sales pitch.

Disclaimer: I am not knowledgeable on this and just searching on the internet, please do your own research and check with the notary.

p.s. did you give the 25k reservation fee in front of a notary? If not that would be a red flag

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I don’t understand why 2% matter that much.

Next question would be how floor space is defined. For example, are the walls part of the floor space, or would you measure from the middle of the wall? Or from the inside? Are we talking about plain walls (just the bricks/concrete), or plastered walls with colour etc. Every bit adds or subtracts a few cm and then you easily get a 2 or 3% difference. Guess it’s pretty standard.

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there are defined stats from SIA for example.
Look at SIA 416, where its well defines (Space underneath doors should not count, and interior walls should not be calculated).

But there are other definitions…

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If 2% of the whole area is only in one room, then you will feel it. If it is more or less distributed evenly over all the rooms, not much to say…

As stated before, I would especially check that there is a passus about the surface of each area indicated in the detailed plan, much more important than the whole area.


This is very important!

2% are fine but I’d add something like the following:
“measurement according to SIA 416.” AND “if the total m2 after completion differ more than 2%, the price will be adjusted accordingly.”
Just a total of m2 without stating how it is measured is useless.

P.S.: don’t expect too much help from the notary. The notarys job is to make the sale official, whatever terms the seller and buyer agree on.

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Hey guys thank you so much for your thoughts on this.

Patirou: yes I think we will ask for a clarification on what exactly the 2% applies to. Is it only each individual measurement on the 1:100 plan… or is it for the total size? No passage to refer to…

Barto: this is really useful - I never thought to just call them to ask so I think this is my next course of action. No the 25k is upfront with the agency (cogestim), for them to take the lot off the market. Notary step comes after all the houses are bought and that is when the full deposit is made. Apparantly. Is this not normal?

Cortana: it doesnt seem so much, but for us buying this place was a bit of a squeeze. every m2 is going to be really important for us so it feels more serious to us.

Kay4: Ok good to know!

Il-Bosco: Thank you ! another action we can take.

I actually have the exact wording of the notary contract:
Toute difference minime de metrage en plus ou moins, inferieure a duex pour cent (2%) par rapport aux surfaces indiquees sur les plans, remis par les venderesses aux acheteures, n’aura aucune incidence sur le prix de vente fixe sous chiffre 5 ci-dessous…"

This is totally normal.

Will the property be built by a total constructor (entreprise général)? If so: Another clause you should consider is that in case of a defect, the total constructor will be responsible and your point of contact.
If such a clause is missing, it is very difficult for you to claim your rights… The craftsman will say it’s the engineers fault, the engineer will say it’s the architects fault etc.
You might end up having to sue several parties.

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Thanks for that tip - I’ll look for that and request it if it’s missing.

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In Geneva there was a scandal where folks gave 50k cash to a promoter to secure flats. The promoting company went bust and they never saw the money again. That was where where I heard the advice to never hand over money unless it is witnessed with a notary.

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Cogestim is a trustworthy counterparty imo and one of the larger agencies / property managers in the region. But you’re right, an escrow account with the notary is the safe solution (not free though and notarys in Vaud are expensive, e.g. crazy rates for cédules hypothéquaires).

Not sure whether there’s a price cartell in Vaud like there is in Bern, but that’s another topic :upside_down_face:

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Likely the money is safe. But it does make me wonder if a reputable and trustworthy agency shouldn’t propose to use a notary. If no cédule is signed yet I would assume fees and taxes should not be too high, but I do not know.

What happens if azra247 decides he/she didn’t like the detailed terms now being offered by the constructor? Maybe that’s clear in the presale document that was (presumably) signed before handing over the 25k. But in my experience some agencies are very good at unilaterally finding reasons to add extra costs.