Floor plans: What a good property floor plan looks like

Flexible, well connected, bright. Good floor plans.

Floor plans with lots of thought behind them can greatly improve the quality of an apartment and therefore play a crucial role in the search for housing. Analysis tools can distinguish between good and bad floor plans. Find out what factors have an effect on floor plan quality and how to recognize a good floor plan.

What is a floor plan?

The floor plan is a drawing of the horizontal cross-section of a building. It shows the position of doors, windows, or walls, and the distribution of rooms and functions from a bird's-eye view. It is an important part of building planning, and it is used by building owners and architects to demonstrate the full potential of a building and to plan its functions efficiently.

The quality of floor plans is measurable

The floor plan is one of the most important decision-making criteria when searching for a property. These days, the various aspects of floor plan quality can be objectively assessed with the help of intelligent analysis tools and algorithms. In this way, good floor plans can be distinguished from bad ones using quantitatively recorded criteria. This makes it easier for buyers to compare properties. After all, good floor plans can bring out more functionality from your home – depending on your needs.

However, there is no such thing as the perfect floor plan, since people have different needs and wants in regards to habitable floor area. For example, families often value having a big kitchen, bright children's rooms, and sound-proof rooms. In contrast, for young, single-income individuals, the representative value of the home and the central location play a greater role.

Floor plan requirements vary

Residents have different requirements for floor plans 

Different weighting of internal property factors (expert opinion) for family and single-person apartments

Source: Archilyse, Credit Suisse 

How rooms are used depends on the structure of the floor plan

Floor plans give insight into how a property can be used. There are two basic types of floor plan: The "determining floor plan" already specifies the function of the rooms with its structure. The size of the rooms, as well as their arrangement and relationship to one another, only allow for one type of use. With the "open floor plan," on the other hand, the rooms are designed in such a way that the function can be individually chosen.  All rooms are often the same size.

Another distinguishing feature is the connectivity: Either the floor plan separates the rooms from one another or it connects them. If the floor plan is arranged as a kind of circuit, this results in a good property infrastructure. Rooms that are used often are directly linked and short routes enable optimum use of the area. However, if all rooms lead out from a central room such as the foyer, this creates longer routes. This is because distances always have to be covered through an intersection.

Connectivity determines the utilization of the floor plan

Connectivity also determines the quality of a property's floor plan

Left: high connectivity, since frequently used rooms such as the kitchen and dining room are directly linked. Likewise, bedrooms and bathrooms are directly accessible, but can also be used autonomously. Privacy is therefore protected.

Right: limited connectivity, since the connection between the bedrooms is only possible through the foyer, which does not serve much other use.

Source: Archilyse 

Good floor plans optimize the incidence of light in the property

The floor plan also influences how bright the apartment is, and therefore the sense of wellbeing. Since this factor is particularly important, the sizes of windows and distance between buildings is already stipulated in building regulations. Brightness can be further maximized with a clever arrangement of the rooms. Natural lighting can be simulated with the help of brightness analyses. Balcony configurations and tree shading have to be taken into account in this context.

The following example shows that north-facing children's rooms don't get much light. There is no direct sunlight here. A small window, the balcony next door and above, and the neighboring building darken the room even more. However, if the room is facing south and has large windows, the light coming in at midday increases from 800 lumens per square meter to 4300 lumens per square meter – more than five times as much.

The property's floor plan can optimize the amount of light that comes in

The amount of light that comes in also depends on the property's floor plan

Left: child's room facing north

Right: child's room facing south

Red: direct sunlight

Source: Archilyse 

Floor plans should allow for individual furnishing

Room proportions and the position of the entrance, windows, and fixtures limit the range of ways in which a property can be furnished. The individual needs of the residents are better served if the floor plan allows for many different furnishing options. This is particularly important for families, where for example, a nursery needs to become a child's room and then a room for a teenager.

In bedrooms, for example, the furnishing options are measured according to the number of positions where a double bed can be placed. This means that square-shaped rooms provide more possible positions than tapered room shapes. This increases the range of potential uses. 

The floor plan influences how the furniture can be arranged

Square rooms offer a wider range of furnishing options 

Left: The square room allows for three different bed positions.

Right: Only one bed position is possible due to the tapered shape of the room.

Source: Archilyse 

Floor plans are gaining in importance with objective assessment

A good floor plan lays the foundation for comfortable and individual living. The quality of a floor plan is not always clear at first glance. But when measured according to the factors listed, the floor plan's potential can be recognized. This helps buyers to compare living spaces more easily and objectively assess them, so that they can make the right purchasing decision. 

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