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307 West 89th Street, TH 307 West 89th Street, TH
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 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 City of New York’s Building Floor Plan site).


480-MacDonough-Street-01 480 MacDonough Street floor plan via Compass

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).

     

  2.  

  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.
  4.  

  5. Kitchens: By definition, kitchens must be 80 square feet or more. Anything smaller is technically just a kitchenette.
  6.  

  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.
  8.  

  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 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.
  10.  

  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.
  12.  

  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.

Gorgeous Newly-Listed Townhouses
108-8th-Avenue-01 All images of 108 8th Avenue via Corcoran
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From the listing: Voluminous in size and scope, this residence boasts 5 bedrooms, 5 ½ baths, a yard & 3 outdoor terraces - the ultimate in palatial splendor. The house is large: 20'x83', with a grand center staircase that allows most rooms to span the entire width of the house. Its roomy interior and outdoor space create the perfect environment for those who need to work (and play) at home, without feeling a sense of claustrophobia. The house resembles an enchanting European Villa, making it ideal for stay-at-home vacations too. See floor plan and full details here.
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13-Cranberry-Street-01 All images of 13 Cranberry Street via Corcoran
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From the listing: Affectionately referred to as “The Captain’s House”, 13 Cranberry Street was built by British Sea Captain Richard Mortimer in 1829 as a primary residence conveniently located to the then, nearby shipping docks. Now, steps from the Brooklyn promenade, surrounded by some of the most historic homes in Brooklyn, 13 Cranberry Street is a magnificent 5 story, 25 foot wide masterpiece spanning approximately 5,000 square feet of historic comfort. Built in 1829 and recently renovated to offer a modern touch while preserving the historic details, 13 Cranberry offers six generous bedrooms, four bathrooms, four working wood burning fireplaces, full gym, luscious backyard and exceptional parlor floor. This home leaves nothing to be desired. See floor plan and full details here.
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13-Cranberry-Street-05

13-Sylvan-Terrace-01 All images of 13 Sylvan Terrace via Weichert Properties
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From the listing: Completely gut renovated to the studs, this historic townhouse featuring recessed halogen lighting, central air conditioning and heat, gas fireplace, stainless steel appliances, custom maple cabinets, granite countertops. This 3 bedroom and 3 full baths offers generous space for everyday living, PLUS a lovely private patio/garden area. Move in ready, nothing needs to be done! See floor plan and full details here.
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236-President-Street-01 All images of 236 President Street via Sotheby's International Realty
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From the listing: This unique and historic, fully detached 28' wide by 60' deep President St. home with a storied past is a staple in the Carroll Gardens footprint. Built in 1897 by architects Hough and Deuell, this house originally started life as the Hans S. Christian Memorial Kindergarten (Brooklyn's first kindergarten), and later becoming a Christian church until the 1970s, when it was converted to a private residence. The unparalleled structure of this home showcases soaring ceilings with a stunning spiral staircase, stained-glass windows, original beamed ceilings, and original architectural details inside and out. See floor plan and full details here.
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13-Pineapple-Street-01 All images of 13 Pineapple Street via Corcoran
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From the listing: 13 Pineapple Street is one of Brooklyn’s most treasured historic homes and has been tastefully transformed by some of NYC’s top designers as the Brooklyn Heights Association’s 2019 Designer Show House. This impressive four-story, 35-foot-wide grey shingled home, with its elegant window boxes and attached garage, has incredible light from four exposures. In its 4,000 square feet there are 7 bedrooms, three full and one half bath, three fireplaces and lovely spaces for entertaining. Outside is your own private 50-foot-wide oasis for gardening, lounging and outdoor gatherings. See floor plan and full details here.
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45-Willow-Street-01 All images of 45 Willow Street via Leslie J. Garfield
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From the listing: In the heart of the north heights, where the skyline can still be seen from stoops, sits 45 Willow Street, a stunning 25' wide townhouse. Originally built in 1825, this renovated townhome features a handsome Flemish-bond brick facade, a charming stoop entry and a classic double parlor with period details, stunning pine and oak floors, and Marvin windows throughout. Once owned by renowned landscape architect Alice Ireys, whose projects count the Brooklyn Botanic Garden fragrance garden and Abigail Adams museum, this house exudes charm and character—and of course, has an exceptional garden unlike any other. See floor plan and full details here.
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3-Riverside-Drive-01 All images of 3 Riverside Drive via Compass
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From the listing: The sale of the reimagined Kleeberg Residence, an individual New York City landmark, offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase one of the largest and widest single-family residences ever offered in Manhattan. 3 Riverside Drive boasts 26 principal rooms across a gross interior square footage of 19,000 square feet with approved plans for 9 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, 4 half bathrooms, two studies, a staff office, an 83 ft/25 meter marble pool, a partial basketball court, a stadium seating movie theatre and endless other amenities. The house is 37 ft wide, has a soaring 25 ft high double height oval living room and is directly on Riverside Park with sunset views over the park and the Hudson River with tremendous natural light. See floor plan and full details here.
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307-West-89th-Street-01 All images of 307 West 89th Street via Compass
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From the listing: A classic beauty set in the Riverside-West End Historic District, this stunning 20' wide townhouse combines the best of Old World elegance with modern design and conveniences. Fully renovated when the current owners bought it, the house is over 6,000 square feet of lofty, open and airy spaces featuring soaring ceilings, multiple skylights, and grand scale rooms. There are 5 bedrooms, two large windowed offices, four full bathrooms and three powder rooms, a large rear garden with mature trees, top-level terrace, HVAC, central vacuum system, heated floors in the kitchen and bathrooms; two laundry rooms, a gym, and more storage than one could imagine in NYC. Designed by architect Clarence True and built in 1890 with sister buildings flanking the house on either side, 307 West 89th street is move-in ready. See floor plan and full details here.
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307-West-89th-Street-04

224-Baltic-Street-01 All images of 224 Baltic Street via Brown Harris Stevens
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From the listing: Welcome home to 224 Baltic Street, a stunning single family on a beautiful tree-lined block in historic Cobble Hill. Located in one of the most desirable and under-supplied neighborhoods in all of NYC, this move-in ready bright and airy home is spread out over 4 gorgeous floors with a central staircase and lots of original detail. See floor plan and full details here.
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224-Baltic-Street-04

605-3rd-Street-01 All images of 605 3rd Street via Leslie J. Garfield
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From the listing: Originally built in 1901, this house is 20'-wide, four-stories tall and currently configured as an upper triplex with an income-producing rental on the garden level. Behind the gracious and private forecourt is a grand stoop entry that leads to the expansive triple parlor floor of the owner's unit. With period details throughout, grand ceiling heights, and a wood burning fireplace, this floor is a perfect entertaining space. See floor plan and full details here.
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605-3rd-Street-04

175-East-64th-Street-01 All images of 175 East 64th Street via Sotheby's International Realty
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From the listing: Ideally situated on a highly coveted tree-lined townhouse block and distinguished by a top notch renovation, this pin-drop quiet and completely turnkey home boasts soaring ceiling heights and a graciously ascending staircase. The sun-filled residence is host to five wood burning fireplaces and a lovely leafy garden. The 3,756+/- square-foot townhouse is comprised of five stories plus a basement and offers ample space for comfortable family living and grand entertaining. See floor plan and full details here.
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175-East-64th-Street-04

136-Rutland-Road-01 All images of 136 Rutland Road via Compass
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From the listing: 136 Rutland Road, a jewel of the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District and a testament to turn of the century architecture and forward-thinking owners who have gone to great lengths to preserve and improve the home. With four bedrooms and 3 baths spread over three floors, there is ample room to roam and enjoy the wonderful light throughout the home. 136 Rutland Road was built as a group of similar houses in 1897 by the architect Frederick Tyrell in the late Romanesque Revival style with Neo-Renaissance details. See floor plan and full details here.
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136-Rutland-Road-04

687-Greenwich-Street-01 All images of 687 Greenwich Street via Compass
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From the listing: Enjoy the privacy of a quiet house with a large enclosed courtyard, all while being steps away from a classic Manhattan neighborhood. The combination of the feeling of the suburbs with the proximity to the conveniences of the West Village is the ultimate luxury. The distinguished brick facade reveals a sophisticated, stylish, and comfortable home. Recently renovated, #6 Greenwich Mews offers an updated take on the traditional townhouse. Enter the home via the gracious entry stoop stairway on the parlor floor, opening into the main entertaining area, where the living room, kitchen, and dining room are all conveniently on the same level. See floor plan and full details here.
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480-MacDonough-Street-01 All images of 480 MacDonough Street via Compass
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From the listing: This gut-renovated designer two-family on a beautiful Bed-Stuy brownstone block is a dream; a perfect marriage of contemporary conveniences and old-world charm and details. At 3,088 square feet, this stunning owner's triplex (and direct access to a finished basement) over a garden rental offers endless possibilities. Behind the stately facade, the home opens to reveal a triplex featuring an open parlor floor with a gourmet kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances (including a wine fridge and a built-in Miele coffee maker), a wall of south-facing windows and French doors that lead on to a huge deck with stairs to the landscaped garden. See floor plan and full details here.
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480-MacDonough-Street-04

Additional Info About the Building

 
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.