I would be thankful if someone could help me with the following question: Suppose we have a building which is 12000 square meters and an area which is 5000 square meters. How do you AmE speakers explain it:

  • 12000 square meters structure / building / construction on 5000 square meters substructure / infrastructure / foundation.

I need to know which word is used in this sense in AmE.

  • What exactly is 5000 square meters? The piece of land or the area covered by a building? For a house, do you mean the area of house and garden or the ground floor of the building? And note: AE speakers would usually use acres or square feet, not metric values.
    – Stephie
    Mar 2, 2015 at 12:39
  • 12000 meters is total number of the building's all rooms and internal areas and 5000 meters is the yard or perhaps big garden (area) which this building is constructed there.
    – A-friend
    Mar 2, 2015 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


The area of a building or a structure (in general usage) refers to the total usable square footage of flooring within the building. So a square building 30 feet square would have a maximum of 900 square feet per floor. The exact number is complicated by context. When described as part of a realtor's listing, the number would be somewhat less than 900 square feet, since only the actual floor dimensions of each room would be used, and the area of the walls and partitions would reduce the listed area from that calculated from the external dimensions. "Construction" would only be used "during construction", that is, while the building was being constructed.

Substructure and infrastructure would not be used in this context. The area of a foundation would simply be the width times the length. It might also be called "footprint", but this is likely to be used when minimizing the size of the foundation is important. "This building has a 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, but its footprint is only 800 square feet."

Of course, in American English, building dimensions are almost never given in meters (as you may have noticed in my examples). Feet and yards still rule. Likewise, land area is still described in acres rather than hectares, square miles rather than square kilometers.

  • Thank you very much WhatRoughBeast for the response. But would you please let me know if my understanding is correct or I got you wrong! " - 39370 feet structure built / constructed on 16404 feet area of foundation. -" Is this sentences the normal one which AmE speakers say about what I was going to imply or it is not yet the one which it should be? ;)
    – A-friend
    Mar 4, 2015 at 10:11
  • 1
    I would suggest that you are using the right words, but should say "39,000 square foot structure (built) on a 16,000 square foot foundation." Note that the verb "built" is optional depending on exact sentence structure. Also, when converting meters to feet, or vice versa, it is usually a good idea to round the results - unless you really care about the last few digits. Mar 4, 2015 at 13:04

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