Jul
08

Square footage: It’s a matter of opinion!

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I remember seeing a cartoon in the New Yorker Magazine Cartoon Bank showing two mice talking about the size of their in-wall apartment. One said to the other “Counting the space behind the pantry shelves, it’s eleven square feet.”

Nowhere is caveat emptor more applicable than when referring to the stated square footage of a Manhattan apartment.  Many real estate sites have disclaimers like this: “Exact Dimensions can be obtained by retaining the services of a professional architect or engineer.” At best all stated square footage and dimensions are approximate. At worst they are deceptive and misleading.

It is part of the overall marketing plan with most brokers: clean up, de-clutter, professional photos, and professional floor plans.  Brokers want to show the property in the most flattering light.  A floor plan in black and white (lately I’ve seen 3D color floor plans), provides a visual that shows walls, doors, fixtures and open space. 

In addition to the stated square footage, does the floor plan show the whole truth?  Are columns shown in the proper location and proportion to the space?  Are radiators and moldings shown?  How about the thickness of the walls?  Sometimes they are, sometimes not.  While technically correct, some graphic designers will measure from wall to wall, without taking into account such things as moldings and radiators.  But, these things eat into usable floor space.  Many times columns and window and door placements, even wall thickness are just estimates based on educated guesses and knowledge of building practices for a particular building.

For more information on how floor plans are created, see the New York Times article here.

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