Buying Off The Plan - Understanding Floor Plans And Questions To Ask | McGrath
Buying Off The Plan - Understanding Floor Plans And Questions To Ask

Buying Off The Plan - Understanding Floor Plans And Questions To Ask

06/05/2021 | 3 MIN READ

When buying a property, the layout of the home is one of most important features to consider. The arrangement of the rooms will impact the design and utility of the property and well-designed layouts may result in more interest from buyers down the track. 

If you are buying a property off the plan, the floor plan becomes even more important. It shows the relationship between rooms and spaces and how someone living in the property could move through each area. But how do you read a floor plan and what other considerations do you need to think about and discuss with the Project Sales Agent who is selling on behalf of the developer?

What is a floor plan?

A floor plan is a drawing that shows you the layout of a property from above. Floor plans generally show the location of the walls, windows, doors and stairs. They are normally drawn to scale and show how the different room types such as bathrooms, bedrooms, living areas etc are all positioned. In some instances, they also include furniture layouts* to show how the space could work and details of the outdoor areas.
* Furniture is generally not included

Understanding and reading floor plans 

While there may be some variation across floor plans, they generally are designed with the following consistent features:


The Walls

  • Walls are shown as parallel lines on the floor plan and breaks in the lines indicate an opening or door.
  • Outside walls are drawn with a thicker black line, indicating a difference in the width of the wall.
  • Within each room the dimensions are often detailed on the floor plan so you can understand the scale of each space. 


Internal doors 

  • These can vary, but are often shown by a break in the wall and a line drawn in a perpendicular direction to show the direction the door swings
  • Sliding, stacking or bi-fold doors will be shown by a double broken parallel line. You may see this on balconies or outside areas.



  • Like doors, windows are shown as breaks in the wall



  • Stairs are shown by consecutive parallel lines with arrows that go up and down. 



  • Floors are often drawn to show texture with shading or light-coloured lines to indicate the type of flooring finish to be used. This can vary on different floor plans.


Furniture Fixtures and fittings 

  • Simple illustrations may show how furniture could be positioned in the different spaces and rooms

How do you review the floor plan and what questions should you ask?


Overall property 

  • How does the property flow - does it suit your lifestyle, family and individual needs?
  • Understand the size of the different rooms. A good way to get a feel for the actual size of the rooms is to measure them out on the floor of your current home. For example, stand in your current living room and measure the new living room. Is it smaller or larger than what you currently have? From this point you can imagine how you will fill the space in the new floor plan.
  • Understand the furniture layout - will the rooms fit what you need?
  • How many windows are there, are there enough to generate good light and what direction do they face?
  • Which way do the doors swing - will they get in the way of people in other spaces?
  • Understand the liveable square metre space. Find out if the quoted square metre size of the property includes the outside area, garages and space used for built ins. If so, the internal space may be different to what you imagine.
  • Is there adequate storage throughout the property or is there space you could add it?



  • Is the kitchen big enough for your needs, how does it connect to other areas of the property and does it suit your lifestyle?
  • Is the workspace large enough for you to prepare food?
  • Which appliances are provided?


Questions to ask 

  • What joinery / cupboards are included, are there drawers, overhead cupboards
  • What are the spaces provided for a microwave and a fridge? 


Bathrooms and wet areas

  • How many bathrooms are there? Generally, one bed and studios with have a single bathroom, 2 beds, one or two bathrooms and 3 beds should have a minimum of 2 bathrooms.
  • How does the shower and bath layout work?



  • How big are the bedrooms, is there enough space to fit the beds you require?
  • Are there built ins and is there enough storage?


Additional questions to ask about the property that may not be included on the floor plan

Overall property specifications to consider when buying off the plan 

  • The floor plan is designed in a certain way for good reasons - energy efficiency, orientation, privacy, best use of space, usability etc and to comply with planning law. Making any changes to the design will be very difficult and will be at your cost. So, if you want to change it, discuss with the Sales Agent who will consult with the developer / builder to understand the feasibility and cost of any changes you want to make.
  • Fixtures and fittings - Make sure you understand the quality of the fixtures and fittings. Sometimes the fixtures and fittings change due to supply and pricing issues and are different to what you may have seen in the display suite. Ensure your conveyancer or solicitor checks the proposed schedule of finishes.
  • Add-ons - Ask the agent exactly what is included in the purchase price (e.g. flooring, built ins, paint).  Find out what options you have for the upgrades.


A final word 

When you are buying a property off the plan you need to carefully inspect the floor plan and discuss the property in detail with the developer and sales agent. You must also ensure your solicitor or conveyancer carefully review the floor plan and the contract to understand exactly what is included, and the details of any variance clauses. 

To see what McGrath Projects are selling off the plan click here

Other buying a house or apartment tools and information

Our house and apartment inspection checklists 

Process of buying a house or apartment

Buying off the plan - understanding floor plans and questions to ask

Complete costs of buying a property 

Complete guide to home deposits


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