New York City has lots of amazing structures and architecture. If you’re interested in knowing more about these buildings for any reason, the floorplan is usually the first place to start. So, how do you find floor plans for existing buildings in NYC?
Floor plans give you an idea of the layout of a building, especially when it comes to the suitability of the space. If you’re looking for floorplans for buildings in NYC, the best places to check are the Department of Buildings, the New York Attorney General’s Office, the internet, and libraries.
There are several reasons one could be looking for floor plans of buildings in NYC. It could be for academic research purposes, buying or renting a property, or even as a hobby. Whatever your reason, you need to know where to find them. This article discusses that.
What is a Floor Plan?
A floor plan is a scale drawing that shows the basic layout of the property from an aerial view. It shows the relationship between the spaces, physical features, and rooms in the house. It allows you to visualize the house’s interior and see how the space is suitable for your purpose. The floor plan is where the house’s architectural design starts and how you determine space usage. Floor plans are different from building plans. While floor plans show the spaces indoor and outdoor of the building, it’s only conceptual and alone can’t be used for the construction of the building.
Why are Floorplans Important
Since floor plans alone can’t serve the contractor when building a house, you must wonder why they’re important. The reason is simple; they provide the most basic understanding of a property. Whether you’re renting or buying, checking the floor plan of a building allows you to understand its essence, how the spaces interact, the flow, and outlook. It’s like checking out the property when it’s empty and having a bird’s eye with the roof removed. While it’s still necessary to inspect any property before you buy or rent it, a floor plan can give you a basic idea of a property’s space. So, it’s a good way to screen buildings and determine which one is even worth inspecting physically.
Where to find Floor Plans
Building floor plans are public records after the contractor files them with the municipality building department. This means you can view them if you want to. The difficult part is finding the blueprints. Here are some of the places you can find these floor plans are:
1. Department of Building
The best place to find floor plans for buildings in New York City is the Department of Buildings. It has the floor plan of every building in the city since the 20s, and most are public records. The 1920s was when building permits first became compulsory for construction in the city. Your local records office or permit agency usually stores copies of the building plans after being built. This means that you’re unlikely to find older buildings than that. If the DOB has the floor plan you’re looking for, you can view them free of charge directly from the borough office.
But if you’re planning to reproduce copies of the floor plan, you’ll have to pay. The cost usually depends on the number of pages in the file. Before viewing the plan, you need to show a valid identification such as a passport or driver’s license. Those who want copies of floor plans or any building documents have to do so online. You have to submit a record request to the DOB’s Building Information System through the DOB NOW: BIS Options. Of course, you’ll need to have an eFiling account first before logging in. You can easily register and check the guide for step-by-step directions on how to submit your request. After the DOB process the request, you can pick it up at the property’s location borough office.
2. New York State Attorney General’s Office
Before converting a building to a co-op or a condominium, the office of the Attorney General must approve. The person seeking the conversion must submit the floor plans. Thus, this is another place where you’re likely to find the floor plans. Of course, your options here are limited, but if the building history shows a conversion. You can request the floor plan here.
3. Use the Internet
They say the internet is your friend, which can be true when you’re trying to find the floor plan of a property in NYC. You can check many websites for historical information about buildings depending on what you seek. One of the best websites to use is streeteasy.com. It collects floorplans from real estate listings in New York and has a significant database. It’s quite easy to use and suitable for those trying to rent or buy houses.
If your interest in floor plans is more academic or a hobby, you can use online educational resources. Columbia University has an online collection of old building brochures, and you’ll find some original floor plans here. There are also several other historical resources online that you can go through. It all depends on your goals and how much research you can do.
Most educational resources aren’t online, so you’ll have to go to the library if you want the best access. There are several books on floor plans and building plans in NYC. There are several books on floor plans of New York buildings, and you may need to visit the library to examine them. Examples of such books include Apartment Houses of the Metropolis, published by The G. C. Hesselgren Publishing Co. There are plenty of other books that discuss the architectural development of NYC over time, and you’re likely to find not only photographs of buildings but also floor plans in them.
The New York Public Library is a great place to start your research. The library has several resources on floorplans that predate when the DOB started issuing permits. These can be valuable resources for you, depending on what you’re looking for. There are several other libraries too in the city.
The best place to look for floor plans of NYC buildings is the Department of Buildings. But if you can’t find it there, then any options are worth trying.