Our Friend the Floorplan

Oh so quickly the value of a good floor plan makes itself known. Why is seeing the bones of the unit laid out in the floor plan so useful?

Let's find out!

Interpreting floor-plans and being a master at understanding 'flow' may not seem like the top priorities on your hunt for a home, but wowza, will they sure come in handy in NYC.

Why Floor-plans Are So Useful

You’re sifting through online listings like there’s no tomorrow—then you go to your first few appointments. WHAT? The photos were so glamorous! The light so just-right! It looked spacious and excellent for entertaining! Listing photos can be misleading.

From massive 12,000 square foot UES penthouses to cozy closet-sized Village studios—the floor plan is an awesome resource for truly understanding a home’s interior. Plus, you’re paying a pretty penny for each square foot of living space. So that floorplan is a great tool for you to see exactly how the money is being spent on square footageand it could help you figure out if you’ll need to purchase new furniture (Storage <3).

Got It! Now How Do I Read It?

The floor-plan gives you the whole layout of the unit in one go. Here are some tips and things to keep in mind!

  • Trace a few paths to get an idea of the ‘flow.’ What do you do when you come home from work? From your bedroom to the bathroom in the middle of the night? The kitchen to wherever you’re entertaining guests?
  • What’s the window situation? How many are there and where are they located? What kind of exposure do you get from them i.e. which way are they facing? How important is that light to you? 
  • How open is the floor-plan? Are there partial cutouts in the wall to enhance the open feeling, flow, and light? Is the kitchen tucked away?
  • Where are the doors and which way do they swing? This may not seem that important, but a door that opens regularly and constantly gets in your way or blocks something useful becomes a pain real fast.
  • Are there dimensions listed on the floor plan? This is very helpful, but do a double check if you’re getting serious about a listing. 
  • If you’re planning on having a roommate ask yourself: 
    • Where are the bedrooms located? Are they next to each other? If living with a roomate, you might not be so close for noise and privacy reasons.
    • Are the bedrooms the same size? How will difference in bedroom size affect the cost of rent for each roommate?
    • Is it a ‘railroad’ apartment? Railroad is a historic layout where the rooms are directly connected in a straight line without a hallway. This means that someone’s bedroom would probably act as a hallway. Thats right – people need to walk through all of the rooms to the room at the end.

The Ultimate Floor-Plan: The KeyPlan

A regular floorplan may not include key pieces of the building’s architecture. The key plan will show these elements. Think: venting, plumbing, stairwells, elevator shafts, storage, etc. It’s worth checking to see if you can snag a key plan. You might not want your headboard to be next to the elevator shaft.

Caliber usually provides floor-plans for listings. If you can’t find one, ask your broker, or call 311 to request one. Building floor plans are provided through the Department of Buildings (DOB). Checking the website to find contact info for the borough office you need to get in touch with. Easy peasy. If you would like to know what types of units are in a building (studio, number of bedrooms) and how many units there are – contact the Tax Assessor’s office. 

NYC Departments of Buildings website: