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How to Read and Use an Apartment Floor Plan

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If you’re in the market looking for a new apartment, floor plans are easily the most basic and important tool you’ll need. For an off-the-plan purchase reading and understanding the floor plan is essential. For established apartments, they are also valuable as access may be limited.

Floor plans for off-the-plan buyers are part of a bundle of information that includes building location and aspect, relating to both planned and existing buildings. Individual floor plans need to be read in conjunction with floor-plate plans so that you can understand access to lifts, foyers and distance to car park spaces, storage and garbage shuts or garbage rooms and recycling areas along with other facilities like a gym or pool.

Firstly, some important points; remember marketing floor plans are not the final detailed constructions plans, so the finer detail is limited and also keep in mind that it’s important to check the floor plan that’s attached to your sales contract. Because it may not be exactly the same as the marketing plans and the plan attached to your contract forms part of the legal obligations between the vendor and yourself. That’s not so for the marketing plans, it pays to double check this point with your solicitor.

The Basics

With any floor plan make sure you can measure each room and check any details you need, like the width of door and windows, and check the full details of the plan scale as there may be some tricky maths involved. If the location of things like power points, light switches and appliances are not shown, then ask for details.

Another basic before looking at other aspects is to understand sightlines. Do you open the front door to your new apartment and look straight into a bedroom, bathroom or toilet, it does happen so you need to understand the layout and function of the space. Share and check the details with the marketing agents and have friends run an eye over the plans. Think about the layout of any furniture you might be moving or planning to buy for the apartment.

Understand Scale

You’ve got a smart looking floor plan in your hands, an A4 or A3 piece of information that’s really important and understanding scale is something you probably don’t do every day. There are few simple suggestions to help better understand the plan and the scale of rooms and spaces involved.

One of the most useful steps is to go and compare your existing place. Measure the rooms and spaces around your current home, along with the furniture, doorways, windows and include the width of appliances, the height and depth of cupboards the width of wardrobes. This will instantly give you a very real-life understanding of space and is a perfect way to compare the same spaces in your new apartment.

It’s also a good idea to create simple scale cut-outs of your furniture to place over the new floor plans. If you’ve got the skills, you can do much the same thing by scanning your plans and then try your hand at cutting and pasting some furniture layouts.

And do the same if there’s a sales display apartment. Even if the display centre only has some rooms like the kitchen and bathroom, or sections of the bedrooms with robes, check these details and ask to take some selfies on your phone, all of this will help you appreciate the scale of the new apartment.

It’s essential and well worth the time invested, and even for a novice it will help make sense of your floor plans.

Take Your Fingers for a Walk

After doing the suggested homework it’s time to take your fingers on a walk through your floor plans, or use a felt-pen and image yourself reduced Matt Damon size as in the movie Downsizing. ‘Walking’ your fingers across the floor plan in this style will give you an idea of how the apartment flows.

Work your way around all the public and private areas and stop now and then and imagine the space. Virtual reality plans are not yet common, and they will help, but the old-fashioned approach is still a great exercise.

With the help of your fingers or pen imagine yourself sitting on your lounge, or in your favourite chair, lying in bed or watching TV or Netflix. Think about access and keep referring back to your scale and write the measurements of individual rooms on the plans just so you have a full appreciation of the space.

It’s important to consider how you might use the main living areas, and don’t forget outdoor spaces balconies, terraces and courtyards. Let your finger tour help remind you of your daily routine.

If your new apartment is over two-levels or has lift access, double check the lift and bed sizes carefully. Can you fit a bed side table? These are little, but important details.

Check and Ask

The floor plan layout is very likely to be one of the big reasons you’ve selected a particular apartment, but the layout and dimensions need to fit your lifestyle.

Even if downsizing you need to understand how the space will work so check all important dimensions. While most appliances will be provided, you may plan to bring a washing machine, refrigerator or large-format TV, big heavy bulky items that you don’t want to be in a bind with on moving day. Most critical dimensions like accommodating a washing machine will be based upon Australian Standards, so it’s easy and wise to double check.

And remember to check the plans for your parking space or garage and any storage areas and include the height of these spaces, check all internal, external and remote dimensions and that includes common areas like the entry foyer and the lift, never forget to check lift access.

For some people, Feng Shui will also be important, it’s a 5000 year old tradition that’s essential for some buyers to check against their floor plans.

It’s easy to take the time to study and understand floor plans, they’re an essential tool and if changes are necessary or possible, doing that early before construction is essential. Or look at other options in the building, above all if in doubt ask the sales agents. Discovering any problems on the day you move in is not a good outcome, reading your floor plans is an exciting time and will make the purchase a smooth experience by just following the few suggestions we’ve discussed here.