The Square Foot Symbol
By Tony Ozelis

Try and find this on Wikipedia...

square foot symbolOf all the things that you can do with your computer...just try typing one of these little beauties somewhere in an email, letter or spreadsheet.

Although probably the most widely used and important symbol in the entire real estate and construction industry, it has yet to find its way into Microsoft's incredibly large collection of symbols and fonts for its Word, Excel and other fine programs (I'll save you the time in looking for it's not anywhere there). Equally as unfortunate is the fact that the origins of the mark aren't exactly clear and its original creator, although appreciated, remains anonymous.

However, it's pretty easy to understand what the image means; basically it's a simple square with the engineer's shorthand symbol for "foot" (a single ' mark) slicing through the middle of it..."square" and "foot", not exactly atom-splitting stuff, but really handy at times.

It's so recognizable and engrained in our industry that we chose to include it in our company's logo to help identify us as a member of the commercial building community (well, that and we think it looks really, really cool). Additionally, thanks to Location Island's uber-talented art department, we also use it as a "bullet point" in articles when we present lists to you:

  • Just like this -Neat, eh?

It's been hastily written on the back of napkins, jotted down in notebooks and scribbled on various construction materials for time immortal, but using it at the right time always seems to separate the pros from the newbees...of course, what is more important than the proper usage of the symbol are the numbers that are usually located to the immediate left of it.

One of the most common mistakes you can make when renting space for your business, is not getting an accurate measurement and representation of the place. It takes a bit of time to do it properly and a little understanding of the concepts or "Rentable" verses "Usable" square footage but in the end, an accurate measurement will most likely save you money.

Remember; a "small" miscalculation of just 200 square feet while paying $45 per square foot, results in an overpayment of $9,000 a year, not including any additional CAM charges, taxes
and insurance payments, which can raise that number well beyond ten thousand dollars a year!

So you can see ...there's a lot going on behind that simple little symbol and it should serve as an exclamation point, of sorts to the exact size of the space that you're looking to rent.

Always trust but verify any space that you're looking to lease. Still have doubts or questions? Contact an experienced local civil engineer to help you sort things through. You'll be glad you did.

Doing it Yourself - Measuring your space - by Ed Szajna
Determining Proportionate Share - by Tony Ozelis

Happy Hunting....

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About the Author: Tony Ozelis is a real estate development consultant and frequent contributor to  Mr. Ozelis' 23 year career has primarily been focused on restaurant and retail development throughout the United States where he has served as a Director of Real Estate for companies such as Pizza Hut, Inc., Boston Chicken, 7-Eleven and Wendy's International.

With well over 700 successful projects completed to date; he has been at the forefront of incorporating new technologies into corporate real estate development and regularly teaches on subjects such as; Strategic Market Development Planning, Contract Negotiations and incorporating Green Technologies into site design.

Mr. Ozelis is a member of both the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

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