Proposal talk:Building attributes

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Discuss Proposed features/Building attributes here:


I edited this to use a : to separate the 'building' namespace for consistency. --Hawke 22:29, 17 September 2007 (BST)

I would like to see building=belfry instead of building=yes, building:type=belfry, as I consider the yes values wasteful. Similarly, bridge=suspension/pontoon/... instead of bridge=yes. ==Ipofanes 13:28, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Entrances and access

What else may be of interest?

  • entrance - from which direction?
  • entrance for handicapped people?
  • access - a public building?

How do you want to handle other public/administrative buildings such as school, church, offices, ...? I guess, public buildings should be rendered different? How do you differ between those and these?

--Traut 16:19, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Access is covered by the access tag(s) and/or the access namespace --Hawke 19:55, 15 January 2008 (UTC)


There should also be a building:architect tag if there is a architectural style tag. --Realadry 12 July 2008

+1 I too would like to see an opportunity to tag the
  • architect note that in the meantime the key architect=* has been invented and is in use
  • civil engineers
  • owner
  • year of completion
  • year of damage (where I live, many houses have plates in walls written this facts, just to remind the posterity)

--scoid 19:33, 2 November 2008 (UTC)


moved blurb on address format to talk page of address page. Talk:Proposed_features/House_numbers/Karlsruhe_Schema Bunny


I noticed that a lot's of buildings are unused and go to seed. Might be cool to determine via a searchengine such buildings. --!i! 08:17, 12 June 2009 (UTC)


Please have the editors calculate ft and yards to meters, stick to SI-units and leave the unit names out. --Lulu-Ann 12:50, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree with this. Stick to SI-units. See also width=*, maxwidth, maxheight and maxlength, all defaulting to meters. -- MapFlea 12:03, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
i also agree, OSM must use SI-units, it's international and works fine everywhere. PaDorange 1st June 2010
I agree partly. Default is in meter, although it is common practice to include units which should be still allowed. Use "The unit is meters unless otherwise specified" like in width=*. 0--Aschilli 10:33, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Information for handicapped

We need:

  • Automatic doors
  • Evenything on one level / Elevator / Escalator / Stairhouse
  • Steps and/or ramp at the entrance

(I don't care for the hight of a building...)


Which definition should be used for the levels? The British (starting with 0) or the American one (starting with 1)? see --Gkai 14:18, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Why would that be relevant for this tag? A British house with floor 0 and floor 1 has two levels, an American house with floor 1 and floor 2 has two levels, so it's building:levels=2 for both.--Landwirt 05:48, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
This is relevant because we are talking of the numbering of levels, not of the number of levels. See Levels for details. But on the other hand it is not relevant, because we use the numbering that is used in the staircases and elevators... --Lulu-Ann 19:12, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
"Number of stories of the building" is okay but could be further specified. What height has one level? Basement stories are sometimes higher (entrance hall). Also we should agree on whether top levels under the roof are counted. If a building with gabled roof and dormers is tagged with 5 levels/stories, where does to roof start? --Aschilli 10:45, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Date of construction

building:year = 1961

or something like this? --wiso 11:14, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

There's already a tag for this, start_date=*, which I've been using fairly widely (and can apply to more things than buildings). Frankie Roberto 11:35, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
Note that people are also using since=* (ca.46), year_of_construction=* (ca.337), build_year=* (ca.20) and construction_year=* (ca.210) as may be seen at Taginfo (example: construction_year). --T.woelk 21:26, 28 June 2011 (BST)

Capitalization of values

The example values are all start with an upper case letter. Like House, Skyscraper and Flat. This seems to be some unusual in OSM. I think this should be changed.--Maduser 18:57, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Agreed and fixed Bitplane 23:33, 21 February 2010 (UTC)


Hi. I've been tagging buildings with architect=*, as per Proposed features/architect. Can you link to that as part of this proposal? I don't see the need for a building: prefix (as all the tags on this proposal seem to have), but if there's a good reason for it, I guess it could change. Frankie Roberto 11:34, 9 September 2009 (UTC)


To construct the correct form of a roof the tag is necessary. Values could be along or across.

MartinOver 22:29, 17 Dezember 2009 (BST)

or it could be north-south east-west or some thing like this. Otherwise it would be difficult to tag a square building! --K4r573n 17:53, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Better add the info to the parallel wall. What about spheric or flat roofs and roofs that have the highest edge not in the middle? Lulu-Ann
This doesn't work for any building that isn't rectangular. I completely disagree with using tags for orientation, ways across the ridge should be used instead. This allows for working with more complex roof shapes, even those with multiple ridges on different heights, and can easily be integrated into the workflow for tracing from aerial imagery (which likely will be the source for most roof shape data). --Tordanik 20:59, 11 February 2011 (UTC)


To construct a roof with a correct height the measurement should be in metres.Building:height should be the roof ridge of the building.

MartinOver 22:29, 17 Dezember 2009 (BST)

Please explain, should this be the heigth of the roof? I would prefer to enter an angle (building:roof:angle=45) --chris66 16:53, 5 August 2010 (BST)


The proposed tag is used for the material and shape. It would be better to split this in building:roof:shape and building:roof:material.

MartinOver 22:29, 17 Dezember 2009 (BST)


The predominat color of the walls.

MartinOver 22:29, 17 Dezember 2009 (BST)


The predominat color of the roof.

MartinOver 22:29, 17 Dezember 2009 (BST)

in words: red/black/grey--chris66 16:53, 5 August 2010 (BST)
That's HTML. Use the keywords for colors like in this list: [1] --Lulu-Ann 10:47, 6 December 2010 (UTC)


Kendzi: I'm not sure if I understand correctly meaning of this tag so I made image:

roof ridge tag
Yes, this is the meaning of this tag.
Note that this is not working. You will have to define a way for the rigde, nodes are not sufficient. -- Dieterdreist 12:26, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree that for ride it should be defined way. Any proposal how to do that? How should be tagged and connected with building? Some relation, but how tag this relation? Kendzi
Proposal: --Kendzi 19:02, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
- create Relation, type=building
- add building as relation member with role “outline”
- add 2 node way describing ridge as relation member with role building:roof:ridge”
- add to way attribute building:roof:ridge=yes

sample of render:

alt text
alt text


Mean height of the buildings:levels to estimate the builing height.

MartinOver 22:29, 17 Dezember 2009 (BST)

This results in a wrong hight for hotels without level 13! Lulu-Ann
i don't thinks so 'levels' is the number of levels, so a building with 20 levels has always 20 levels (dont count level that do not existes) User:Padorange 1st June 2010
A building with 20 levels can have 3 cellar levels, 0 or 1 ground levels and some more that you can count from outside. So do cellar levels count for the hight calculation? I guess we need to make clear that we count over the ground levels only. Lulu-Ann
You're right the count level definition must specify what we count really. To estimate height (what we talk in this paragraph), the count must be over the ground. 2 possibility : count level only from ground, or the tag count all level and we must add another tag to specify if the total count include 1,2 or more underground level (building:underground ?)... User:Padorange 1st June 2010
When the overground tag is called level, the underground tag should be named similar, I propose undergroundlevel or sublevel. Lulu-Ann
I'd count all levels for the total of building levels. In the case of split-levels I'd count only the levels one above the other, not the intermediate ones (would be missleading otherwise). Usually building:levels:height=* is a different number for each level according to where in the building the level is (underground usually less, ground floor and first floor usually highest). The official way to measure this is from the surface of the floor to the surface of the next higher floor. This should be building:level:0:height=* for the height of the ground floor, building:level:-1:height=* for the height of the first underground floor and so on. --Dieterdreist 11:25, 8 February 2012 (UTC)
This attribute is meant to be the average height of a single storey. We have the number of levels above the ground, ok, but in order to compute the metric building height, one variable is missing, thats the level height. height = levels * building:levels:height. Currently I am using 3 m as default, but it may differ from this mean value considerably, depending on the building type and age. --Aschilli 11:37, 6 February 2011 (UTC)


Maybe for this value we can use the same system has opening hours. something like 0-2 residential,office; 3,5 office; 4 residential. what you think? --Yod4z 12:30, 14 September 2010 (BST)


I would like to add a condition tag (particular for castles, but also for other buildings) with the following values: preserved;renovated;disrepair --Walterschloegl 11:37, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

For reasons of privacy, and to prevent being used for commercial "big data" harvesting, I'd rather oppose against using this tag with private houses.

height vs. building:height

height is concerning taginfo used more extensive in the database than building:height. I suggest to adjust the proposal. Also the german translation already has height and not building:height in the table. --chris66 11:53, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Seconded - height tag is used for many other objects as well and there's no need for separate tag for buildings --AMDmi3 18:14, 10 January 2011 (UTC)
The way height=* is defined in this proposal is missleading and doesn't follow the logics for the key. Usually the height-tag describes the height of the object it is applied to. In the case of a building it should be clear, whether underground parts should be counted or not and whether foundation parts count (these can sometimes be very high and often it's hard to get the numbers, so I'd suggest not to include them here). If this tag is applied to a "bridge"-building that spans between two other buildings, the height tag should be the height from the lowest part of the building to the highest part(assuming here, that antennas and other technical equipment should be excluded), not from the ground elevation to the highest part as describe currently (it is sometimes not even clear what the ground elevation is, -> highly ambigiuos). --Dieterdreist 11:19, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Needs illustrations for roof types

That'd be especially useful for non-English speaking users. Here're some types I've drawn:


as I understand, 1=ridgedpitched (also with building:roof:orientation=along), 4=pyramidal. How do you call 2 and 3?

2 => hip roof (german Walmdach) (see , or the german site and the more details (dormer) User 5359 18:47, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

feel free to use vector source (public domain):

--AMDmi3 18:06, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

I propose to use 1=pitched, 2=hipped, 3=crosspitched, 4=pyramidal, and am going to add above illustration to the page, any objections? There's no mention of "ridged" roof in the wikipedia link - if it's something different from pitched, it should be added as a separate type. --AMDmi3 21:32, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

no, please use a human readable form. --Aschilli 13:55, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

I think that are two different types of roofs: --Kendzi 20:33, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

  1. Pitched:
  2. Gable:
gable and pitched


Same meaning as building:roof:orientation - may be along (default) or across. Useful to set orientation of non-symmetrical building shapes, such as hangar. --AMDmi3 21:32, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Please use geometry and not tags. I'd consider this superfluous. Nobody should be encouraged to tag buildings as nodes, even without aerial imagery it is better to estimate the shape and orientation of a building then to describe it with tags. --Dieterdreist 11:28, 8 February 2012 (UTC)


Distance the roof extends beyond building walls.


--AMDmi3 02:14, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Yes, this is an interesting one. Should apply to a way IMHO (or map the cullis of the roof explicitly): the wall above which the roof is.--Dieterdreist 11:30, 8 February 2012 (UTC)


Using keywords for roof/facade color is not very useful since its too limited. Colors should be specified consistently as hex strings, e.g. #6B8E23 like in SVG. Hex strings can be generated easily using GIMP software. The colors could be picked from Bing maps. --Aschilli 10:51, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Redundant levels

levels, building:levels, and building:levels:aboveground is redundant information. Can we explicitly disallow two of them? I would stick with building:levels, it's intuitive. levels would be generic, but what other type of constuction has levels and is not a building? Subway? Mine? --Aschilli 11:16, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

I would suggest that this proposal is only for overground buildings. Things like underground stations have totally different needs. I also have seen usage of building_levels and building:level (without the ending s). But be aware that there that some people also used buidling:level instead of level for indoor rooms. --Saerdnaer 23:59, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
No, we can't disallow anything, but we could encourage the mappers not to use them. IMHO building:levels=* should be all building levels (below and above ground) which are one above the other. For ramps and split-levels this would not work. For split level buildings I'd suggest to split these in two building parts and attach to each of them their amount of building:levels=* (in total). This proposal should cover all buildings, not only overground buildings. --Dieterdreist 11:34, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

roof - facade

Better use consistent structure

Rename building:roof to building:roof:material

Rename building:cladding to building:facade:material




(see above)

--Aschilli 11:46, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

added these tags. hope its okay --Aschilli 21:15, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

building:height ?

Why adding extra tag for building height? Is it somehow different from height=*?

If not, I suggest "building:height" to be replaced by already existing "height" in this proposal.

--Bilbo 18:49, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Agree. taginfo counts 583971 for height, 26110 for building:height for ways tagged as buildings. --Aschilli 23:07, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Bilbo. In my application I interpret the height value differently than indicated in your picture. Height is the distance from the lower edge to the upper edge, not from ground to upper edge. Similarly, levels count not from ground either. A bridge on 50th floor would have min_level=49, levels=1. --Aschilli 23:30, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Aschilli I think you are doing this right. This proposal here is missleading in the description of the tag height. It should work like you describe.--Dieterdreist 11:38, 8 February 2012 (UTC)
  • But OSM-3D and glosm interpret height and levels in the manner I described. So there are two different approaches, it seems .... The question is - how it is used now in the data? Which approach should be picked as the "correct" one? There are not many buildings mapped with min_level (I estimate it to about 1000) or min_height (less than 100), so checking and possibly fixing those should be not very hard. BTW what is "your application"? Can you provide a link to it? --Bilbo 00:19, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
I was referring to OSM-3D. Ah I see. On a page from User:Jongleur/MultiLevel it is described like this. From a technical viewpoint I don't care, just needs to be described unambiguously and not collide with other attributes. --Aschilli 12:01, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
I've edited the page to clarify and explain these tags --Bilbo 16:20, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
OSM-3D and glosm could change their way of interpretating this. It would simply not be logical (not coherent with the general meaning of the key height=* to not refer this to the actually tagged object, but to a diffuse distance ground (unclear) and rooftop. --Dieterdreist 11:38, 8 February 2012 (UTC)


I think that for "building:use" there should be more examples (to cover most of building types), perhaps along with a short explanation - so there would be less cases where people "invent" some tags (often different ones) to tag buildings not mentioned here

shop         - shop open to general public
residential  - housing, flats, etc ...
office       - offices
decorative   - building with only decorative purpise

Some more suggested examples that could be added

education    - schools, classrooms, etc ...
storage      - storage for goods - warehouse or similar buildings (reservoirs, refrigerated storages, ...)
factory      - building, where some goods are manufactured, usually full of some machinery
industrial   - some other industry (refinery, chemical plant, etc ..)

--Bilbo 22:33, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

What is the difference between building:type and building:use? --Aschilli 12:59, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Type describes the shape and construction, regardless of the use: a building:type=house is a building that looks like a single family home; yet it could be a company office (:use=office); a building=hangar could be any of building:use=storage/factory/shop/...; a building:type=manor might be use=residential/education/tourism etc. building:use=* can often be a repetition of the landuse it is in, but also something else, or just more specific. Alv 13:45, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
then why have a separate key for building type, it's the same as in building=<building typology>. --Aschilli 13:31, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
Don't ask me, I use building=<typology>. Alv 13:51, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Change building:min_level to a more convenient scheme

I'll repeat here the idea I've shown here: User_talk:Jongleur/MultiLevel_Building_Shapes

building:min_level is flawed as it's confusing (especially in countries where levels start with one, not zero) and/or requires additional tag (building:ground_level). I propose to use building:skipped_levels instead, which, compared to min_level:

  • doesn't have any zero-one confusion
  • works similarly in all countries
  • doesn't require additional tags
  • behaves in a similar and expected way as building:levels, describing "span", not "edge location"

--AMDmi3 12:20, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

right. Its just about the correct wording. building:ground_level wont help much either, because 4th amd 13th floor are often missing, so we always count the levels, not read from elevators. In this respect plural levels is better than singular level. How about building:void_levels? --Aschilli 13:24, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree that building:min_level is not a good choice nor a good concept (often building levels are different, the key doesn't really work, it is an approximation that cannot iterate to precision). Instead the elevation of the lowest part of the building should be tagged (in metres). This can start as a guess and be verified subsequently e.g. by measurement with a disto-laser to decent precision. --Dieterdreist 11:43, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Remove building:roof:ridge altogether

to get rid of warning sign. It does not belong here since it is not an attribute of the building polygon itself. Whether its working or not, it would be part of a more complex scheme for tracing roofs and you need relations. TagInfo count: 113. Objections? --Aschilli 10:20, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Agree but first we should find another way to describe ridge. --Kendzi 07:47, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

count levels and heights from ground or not?


A) Measure height from ground to top of building structure, Count levels from ground including non existing ones.

B) Measure height as distance from lower edge to upper edge of building structure. Count levels as actually existing number of floors in that building structure.

(copied from page: "Note that this is very strange and missleading. In architecture you will never count "nonexistent" floors as "levels". Building levels will always be the actual levels, not voids outside the building. It does make no sense at all to count levels of adjacent building parts as building levels of a building. Please adjust your picture.")

p.s. Please use talk page for discussions

my vote: B). --Aschilli 10:33, 27 February 2011 (UTC)


Comment copied from page: "Note that this is actually not working for many buildings and is complicated to evaluate as well. It is suggested to create a proposal that works more stable and for different shapes as well."

In my opinion it is working perfectly for simple rectangular buildings and many roof shapes. If not, it can be seen as meta data, not for 3D modelling. Please discuss. --Aschilli 10:42, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Counting levels (again...)

How would I tag the levels of those two buildings here? Left 1, right 2? I still find the scheme quite confusing. It easily breaks with corner cases. --Silanea 20:13, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Don't they both have two levels? --Scai 11:19, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes and no. The right one has two "proper" levels plus the roof (which most likely has a little attic underneath), the left one has a ground level plus a roof with another level in it. Taging both as levels=2 would convey wrong information in my opinion: Both offer two levels on which people can live, but the right building is essentially one whole level taller than the other. --Silanea 18:02, 1 December 2011 (UTC)
I understand your point. There should be some clarifications about how to tag these buildings along with proper images. Otherwise we won't get a consistent tagging of building levels. --Scai 12:04, 2 December 2011 (UTC)