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Why Floor Plans Are Important

It doesn't take long for a renter or buyer in New York City to learn the importance of floor plans.

Being able to read a floor plan and understand a space’s flow might not be on the top of the list for everyone else pursing real estate in the country, but when it comes to New York, reading a floor plan is akin to a chef knowing whether a recipe is good, or not.

Importance of a floor plan

After viewing hundreds of images of listings online and visiting several apartments, you’ll soon realize that images can be quite misleading.

No matter the property type – whether it’s a 459-square-foot studio in Yorkville or a 13,200-square-foot townhouse in Gramercy Park – floor plans are often a better indication of an apartment’s interior than images are.

And with Manhattan’s current median price per square at $1,280, you’ll want make sure that your apartment is laid out effectively and efficiently so that every last inch is well used.

How to read a floor plan

A floor plan allows the renter or buyer to comprehend the entire layout and flow of the apartment in a single glance. Here are some things to keep in mind when surveying a floor plan:

  • Are bedrooms next to each other? If you have a roommate, this might reduce privacy and noise.
  • Are the bedrooms similarly sized? Again, if it’s a roommate situation, someone will sacrifice space and possibly pay less in rent.
  • How many windows are there? Lack of windows means lack of light. What direction are they facing?
  • Which way do the doors swing? Blocking whoever’s in the kitchen while hanging up your jacket might be tolerable once, but how many times after that?
  • Are there partial walls to allow for an open style of living? Partial walls into the living room and dining room opens up the space and allows more light.
  • Is it a railroad layout? Let’s face it: Unless you’re living by yourself or your significant other, railroad layouts are no fun. That’s because someone’s bedroom will essentially become a walk-through to get to the other bedroom.
  • Does the floor plan include dimensions? If dimensions are printed on the plan, it’s helpful, but do not take it as a guarantee that they are correct.

See it in the key plan

Likewise, beware of what floor plans don’t say. Sometimes buildings include a key plan, showing primary architectural elements of each building by floor level. They represent elevator shafts, storage areas, venting, plumbing, and so on.

StreetEasy has floor plans for most listings, but if you can’t find them on the site, ask the broker. Or, you can call 311 and request a copy of a building floor plan. The Tax Assessor’s office would also have data on the number of units in each building assessed and whether they are studios, 1BRs, 2BRs or 3BRs.


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