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Condo Market : Floorplan Reading 101

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Condo Market : Floorplan Reading 101

Purchasing a new condominium suite early in the selling cycle is a wise decision nowadays in the Greater Toronto Area. Chances are, by the time you move in, your new home will be worth more than you paid for it.

It is also likely that you purchased from a floorplan rather than being able to walk through completed suites. For seasoned home buyers, this is probably old hat, but for first-time buyers, it can seem daunting to visualize a three-dimensional space from a two-dimensional representation. The best thing to do is learn to read a floorplan to ease that visualization.

Typically, floorplans include symbols and abbreviations that may differ in style from builder to builder, but there are conventions that are used by most. Condo floorplans are drawn as though you are looking down at the suite from above. You will see the overall square footage of the layout and of the balcony or terrace area. Room dimensions are shown, usually with the width first, and with arrows indicating from which wall to which wall. If you are looking at an L-shaped room, this helps greatly with determining furniture placement. Squares with an “X” inside mean the fan coil units for distributing heating and cooling are located there.

Notice that some lines are a bit thicker than others. Those with more depth represent walls that contain plumbing, electrical and/ or structural elements. How does this help you? At your colour selection appointment, you know that you cannot move those walls as an option. Of particular importance is the key plate in the corner of the floorplan that features a shaded area indicating where the suite is located in the building’s floor plate. You may even see key plates that describe on which floors that particular design is available.

Keep in mind that where doors are concerned, icons show you which way they swing. Sliding doors to a balcony or terrace are shown with overlapping rectangular lines. And when you see parallel lines on the floor, that means hardwood or laminate. If the floor area is blank, it likely indicates carpeting. Squares are ceramic or other stone or tile flooring.

Kitchen drawings can be quite intricate, with lines that represent everything from appliances to breakfast bars. A blank square is the fridge; a square with four circles on it would be the stove seen from above. Dotted lines in the middle of a counter may signify uppers above it. A dotted line along the edge of a counter or island probably means there is an overhang under which you can place stools. If there is space for a dishwasher, there is a dotted line for that too. Icons with small circles (for drains) in the middle are sinks. W/D is the abbreviation for washer/dryer, and you may see LIN for linen closet. Bathroom drawings are easy to read, as the sink, toilet, tub and/or shower are obvious. The abbreviation WIC stands for walk-in closet.

The best advice I can give you is to ask your sales representative to explain anything on the floorplans that is not clear. If you can tour model suites, by all means, do so. Be sure to walk through models with the floorplans in hand, which will give you an excellent idea of how other suites will “live.” A new condo suite is a big investment for your future. Use all of the tools at your disposal to make the best choice for your needs and wants — and have fun in the process!

BARBARA LAWLOR is president and CEO of Baker Real Estate Incorporated and an in-demand columnist and speaker. A member of the Baker team since 1993, she oversees the marketing and sales of condominium developments in the GTA and overseas. Keep current with The Baker Blog at


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