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How to read a floorplan when buying a new build home or condo

How to read a floorplan when buying a new build home or condo



Each model or suite will have a name that you can easily remember and refer to when deciding which home design you like. The number beside the name refers to the size of the lot your home will sit on, measured in feet.



The different styles refer to the exterior look of the home. These may affect the interior square footage slightly, and for this reason, square footage often corresponds with each style. On a condo plan, this would often include the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, den and balcony or terrace options.



Major elements in the floorplan will be labeled for ease of reading. These elements will almost always include the main features of your home, such as the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, porch, laundry room, foyer and living area. They may also include other important elements to make the floorplan easier to understand such as the breakfast bar, soaker tub, storage area or linen closet.


Because of space limitations, you’ll often come across abbreviated words throughout the floorplan. Here are a few common ones you’ll encounter:


W.I.C – Walk in Closet

W/D – Washer and Dryer (if shown together that indicates the appliances are stacked)

I.P. – Walk in Pantry

STOR. – Storage area

LN. – Linen closet

DN. – Used on stairs, indicating the stairway down.

OPT. – optional features that do not come standard with your home

PR – powder room


Throughout the entire floorplan, the dimensions of the various areas and rooms will be indicated in feet and inches. The diagram below will give you a better understanding of how these dimensions relate to the space. It’s important to note that dimensions are measured from the center of the room and assume the space is rectangular. The true dimensions can vary slightly with the shape and curvature of the room.



All doors will be indicated by a dotted line in the direction it opens. Sliding doors, as seen on some closets on the example above will be indicated with two thin, slightly overlapping rectangles. Sliding doors will be indicated with an arrow in the direction of the sliding door.



The presence of tiles and the various tile sizes will be represented by different sized squares on the floorplan. It’s not uncommon to see part or all of the kitchen tiled, although this isn’t the case for every model. Keep in mind that despite the size of the tiles indicated, upgraded tiles are often available in different sizes and colours. You can discuss your options with your sales or decor representative.


The presence of upper cabinets is indicated by a dotted line, as seen in the kitchen area above. This gives you an idea of their depth. Lower cabinets are built in and not specifically indicated.  Your decor representatives will be able to review and confirm the position and number of cabinets included in a specific kitchen layout.



Different closets will have different doors and built-in storage systems. The door will be indicated by either a swinging or sliding door icon, and the storage system will be show by a solid and dotted line, which represents a shelf and/or rod feature for clothing organization.


It can be difficult to understand how the relationship between the different levels and open space between floors will all work together when looking at a two-dimensional drawing. Each staircase will display the location of the staircase, any features under the stairs (storage closets etc.) as well as the direction of the stairs, marked with an UP or DN and a directional arrow. The second floor is often open in some area to view the floor below, and this area will be labeled with a “Open to below”, as with the example above. Other elements will be clearly labeled, such as the railing on the second floor. The jagged line shown on the stairs of the main floor and basement plan is simply there to indicate the divide between the levels.



The various walls, outside doors and windows will be indicated by different lines and icons. Shaded areas are used to show different features, such as pillars and or structural beams, and sometimes space around different features such as the shower is needed due to the plumbing required behind the walls. Dotted lines, shown between the Kitchen and Great Room indicate an open area, or lack of wall. The various windows will be indicated by various rectangles that specify the size and number of window panes there are.



Throughout the floorplan, you will see various featured indicated with ‘optional’. For example, the OPT. fireplace in the Great Room. The optional features and pricing can be discussed with your decor representative.



All Empire homes will have unfinished basements, which means the basements have a wooden frame with a concrete floor, but does not have drywall and flooring.


Elements that are installed in your basement are represented with a dotted line, such as the stairway and mechanical area. Most homes will have the option of a rough-in bathroom. This means that the plumbing is installed but the bathroom remains unfinished, without framing, drywall and tiling or fixtures. The large areas with a dotted X, marked ‘Unexcavated’ means that those areas will remain undug and inaccessible. Your basement ends along the wall where that area is shown. As with the example above, there is an option of a Cold Cellar, which will be excavated if the homeowner requests it.


The best way to really visualize your space is to use a combination of renderings, model homes or vignettes where available as well as the help of sales and decor professionals. Start by visualizing yourself walking in the front door and take yourself through the home to really understand how your space will work, look and feel. Not every design will work for your lifestyle or living situation and that’s okay. And of course, if you have any questions, there’s always help to find the home that works for you.

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