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The Powellton, 229 West 97th Street, #5G  (Rand Realty) The Powellton, 229 West 97th Street, #5G (Rand Realty)
In a city where every inch of floor space really does count, floor plans should never be an afterthought. In fact, whether you’re looking to rent or buy, knowing how to find and interpret floor plans is essential. After all, in New York City, listings for one-bedroom units aren’t always what they claim to be and neither are listings for two-bedroom units and so on. By obtaining and scrutinizing floor plans in advance, you can save hours and even days of time when searching for a new home, since in most cases, floor plans will help you eliminate any apartments that don’t meet your baseline criteria. This article outlines how to locate floor plans, even when they aren’t included with a listing, and how to interpret these plans once you have them in hand.

Locating apartment floor plans


Unofficial floor plans can often be found online and frequently are already included as part of a listing. Of course, in some cases, the floor plans aren’t included and often, their absence says as much their inclusion. But this raises an important question: If a floor plan isn’t included in a listing, where can you find one for the unit in question? The first step is to do a simple online search. Typing the exact address and words “floor plan” into a search will often turn up the floor plan for the unit you’re thinking of renting or buying. If not, you can always ask the agent or broker who has listed the unit or your own agent or broker. The final option is to visit a Borough Office (find your local office Photo Photo via here) and request access to the floor plan. You can view plans for free, but if you want a copy it will cost $8.00 for the first page and $5.00 per additional page (full details are available on the Photo via City of New York’s Building Floor Plan site).

The Powellton, 229 West 97th Street, #5G $699,000

Upper West Side | 2-beds, 1 Bath | 775 ft2 | Co-op
Originally a large one bedroom apt, this has already been divided into a 2 bedroom. However, there's lots of opportunities to change the layout if you so desire. Towering ceilings, hardwood floors, and a brick wall accent make this apartment a charming opportunity to make your own.

Interpreting apartment floor plans


Once you’ve found the floor plan in question, the next step is to interpret the plan. There are generally seven key features you should examine:
  1. Bedrooms: The first and most important thing to assess is how many bedrooms the apartment actually has. In New York City, many one-bedroom units are advertised as two-bedroom units and so on. In most cases, if the apartment is listed as a two bedroom but the floor plan only shows one bedroom, the lister is simply suggesting the apartment might be “flexed” with the addition of a temporary wall.

    In some cases, however, a bedroom may not appear on the floor plan but already exist in the unit. If this is the case, it is nearly always an indication that the room was added later. If you’re thinking about renting or buying, you will definitely want to confirm that the wall was a legal addition. Finally, it is important to check the size and location of the bedrooms. Bear in mind that legal bedrooms must be a minimum of 80 square feet with a minimum width of 8 feet in any dimension, have at least one window opening to a street, yard, or other outdoor space, and two means of exit (one may be a window).


  3. Layout: Many NYC apartments were built as railroads or floor-through apartments. While this can work well for a family with young children, if your children are teens or you’re looking for a unit that will work with roommates, the railroad is rarely ideal. While they do tend to run much larger, walking through a roommate’s or older child’s bedroom to get to the living room or kitchen is generally asking for trouble.

  5. Kitchens: By definition, kitchens must be 80 square feet or more. Anything smaller is technically just a kitchenette.

  7. Living spaces: Since there are few rules about what can count as a living room, it's often open to interpretation by owners and listing agents. Worse yet, it is often lumped in with other rooms, such as the kitchen. If the apartment has an “open” dining/living area, when you look at a floor plan, ask yourself, is there really enough space for a sofa, coffee table, and a dining table and set of chairs in the apartment’s combined kitchen-living area? In many instances, these combined spaces are really only large enough to accommodate a sofa and coffee table or table and set of chairs but not both. As a rule of thumb, anything less than 120 feet will be a squeeze.

  9. Closets: Every bedroom should have at least one closet, and there should be at least one other closet somewhere in the unit. Of course, this minimum will likely still leave you short on storage. Unless you’ve already Photo via KonMari’d your home your home, you’ll want to ensure there are at least two closets in the apartment’s common areas and at least one closet in each bedroom.

  11. Windows: Some New Yorkers claim that it's better to take a smaller unit with more windows than a larger unit with fewer windows. While this may be an extreme way to approach the window to floor space question, there is some truth to the matter. Large windows will make your unit feel much larger and ample natural light can make even the drabbest apartments feel cheerier. Of course, there is one thing floor plans can’t indicate—what the windows face. To find out if they face a brick wall or a park, you’ll still need to view the unit in person.

  13. Outdoor spaces: The final thing to assess when looking at the apartment’s plan is the outdoor spaces. If the outdoor space is part of the unit and exclusively for the resident’s use, it should appear on the floor plan.
Ultimately, an apartment floor plan is like a map. It may not tell you exactly what is there, but it will offer a sketch of what you can reasonably expect to find. As a result, finding and interpreting floor plans in advance will help you determine if a unit even merits a site visit.

University Towers, 122 Ashland Place, #10J $649,000

Downtown Brooklyn | 2-beds, 1 Bath | 820 ft2 | Co-op
via Compass
The versatile floor plan is functional and spacious and has already been converted to a 1 Bedroom plus Den (currently being used as a nursery). As you enter into the charming foyer area of this quiet corner apartment, you will be blown away by its size and all of its beauty.

Hardwicke Hall, 314 East 41st Street, #104B $3,350

Turtle Bay/united Nations | 2-beds, 1 Bath | Co-op building
Enjoy sunlight all day long through your Southern exposure in this serene, pin-drop quiet apartment that boasts hardwood floors, crown moldings, ceiling fans, and beautiful pre-war details. With 5 closets throughout the unit plus custom built-in storage in the Master bedroom, you'll be settled in in no time.

235 East 51st Street, #2B $2,995

Midtown East | 2-beds, 1 Bath | Co-op building
via Douglas Elliman
Flex wall is up.This apartment is a flexed two-bedroom located in a well maintained and clean building on 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue.

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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.
Spacious 1 Bedrooms with outdoor space and in-residence w/d View Property
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