How to Review a Floor plan
A floorplan is the ‘bones’ of a house. It is what buyers identify with; it is the signature of the home. Floorplans are not easily changed and they do drastically affect the way you use, enjoy and occupy a home. They create the environment in which you live. Your floorplan also has a large bearing on your ‘exit strategy’ when you decide to move on.
Floorplans have changed dramatically over the years, with a change in lifestyle that has moved away from the more formal structure of early last century to a demand for modern, casual living environments. They have also evolved with the emergence of inner-city living and the plethora of apartments built from the 1960s onwards as the cost of housing became more and more out of reach.
The more unique the property; the more significantly the floorplan comes into play. Conversely, the more bland (e.g. highrise units), the less interesting the floorplan and the more likely a low ‘wow factor’.
Evolution of the floorplan
Floorplans of new homes have changed to meet the requirements of modern living. The floorplans of earlier types of architecture often had small bathrooms and kitchens which were not functional and were often situated in the wrong part of the house, say in the middle where you could not see daylight and needed a light on 24 hours a day; the bathroom was often as far away as possible from where the bedrooms were. The classic examples of these types of floorplans would be the Californian Bungalow and the Art Deco era. While they appealed at the time the floorplan just didn’t work for future generations and most renovations have usually relocated both the kitchen and bathrooms.
There has been a significant shift in the last 20 years for larger family rooms and an emphasis on indoor/outdoor entertaining and these changes render the dining room almost redundant. In most cases it usually only gets used three or four times a year, so most new homes incorporate the dining area into the family room.
While architects and designers of new homes have the liberty to be able to create an environment, sometimes their creativeness can produce an appalling floorplan. While they usually do get it right, I have seen disasters, particularly in the highrise environment where they not only try to include a view to add value, they squeeze as many apartments as possible onto the site just to make the project add up.
A floorplan is about space and harmony. It is one of the major factors in the practice of feng shui. While many people don’t believe in feng shui, one of my clients once said to me, ‘David, it has been around for thousands of years; there must be something to it.’
Floorplans of apartments and houses = investment!
The floorplan of an apartment has to satisfy different needs to that of a house. Obtaining as much space as possible is the key, together with harnessing natural light. Sometimes the pressure to get these key elements together results in the sacrifice of the flow of the rooms, and something that looks like a Lego construction is the result.
Home renovators often suffer the same pressure when they decide that they need extra space and usually stick an extra room on one side of the house, with little thought as to how it will work in a living environment. It is easy to see these situations have been driven by cost rather than future capital growth. The same can be said for apartments where people have enclosed the verandas, trying to squeeze a little bit of extra space. What they don’t consider is the lifestyle issue of having an outside area when you are living in an apartment, even if it is just somewhere to put a BBQ.
Apartment buyers should also consider the whole building’s floorplan and whether or not it will have an impact on their lifestyle. It is no good having a fantastic floorplan if you have to walk up four flights of stairs to get there or you have no cover getting from your car to your unit.
When buying an old home, a ‘renovator’s delight’, due consideration should be given to how to make the most of the floorplan. Most buyers are amateurs when it comes to renovations and have no concept or idea of the hidden costs involved. Many consider they will just pull the back of the house off and start again. What they don’t realise is that when you are moving many of the services it is sometimes cheaper to begin again.
Future trends in floorplans
What does the future hold for floorplans? Clearly the dining room is a relic of the past and the emphasis will continue to focus on casual living, together with more European ideas as space becomes a priority. In Europe, kitchens are becoming smaller as new technology and convenience meals become more common and the emphasis on outdoor living increases. Technology will also have a great bearing on how lifestyles change, as many people will work from a home office and only go to work a few days a week; they may opt for an out-of-town weekender as the family home and have an apartment as a base in the city.
– David Morrell