Before purchasing a property, one of the first things you should do is review the condo/HDB floorplan. Why? Think about this: You are considering purchasing a home and wish to inspect its interior. However, after spending hours perusing online property listings, you are uncertain whether the photos and descriptions match the actual property.

The property’s floor plan can be useful. Condo or HDB floorplans are great because they not only give you a better idea of what the interior looks like, but they also provide a wealth of information that photographs and well-written descriptions cannot match.

Although condo/HDB floorplans are useful, they are difficult to comprehend. Unfamiliar condo/HDB floorplan abbreviations and unusual symbols may be encountered.
In addition, condo resale prices increased for the 22nd consecutive month in May 2022, with The Nassim units fetching the highest transaction price of $20 million. If you are paying that much for a home, you would want to know exactly what you are receiving.

Don’t worry if you have no idea where to begin. This beginner-friendly guide explains how to read a condo or HDB floorplan. Let’s get started!

What Is a Condo or HDB Floor Plan?

A floor plan is primarily a scaled diagram of a floor or a house. It typically depicts the dimensions, furniture, interior fixtures, room layout, window locations, and walls, as well as any other pertinent information.

Imagine yourself looking down from above at a house or room without a roof or ceiling. This is the simplest way to comprehend a floor plan (i.e. an aerial view). The majority of floor plans label each room accurately.

Open-Concept HDB Floor Plans: Enhancing Residence Adaptability

Notably, HDB announced in May 2022 that it is exploring the possibility of constructing HDB flats with more open floor plans. This would enable homeowners to reconfigure the spaces in their new homes to better suit their needs.

This includes having a larger home office for work-from-home days and larger bedrooms.

Future homeowners would benefit from an open HDB floorplan because they would be able to remove walls early on to make a space bigger. Consequently, they save time, energy, and resources on major renovations that would otherwise be required after receiving their apartments.

Why are Condo/HDB Floor Plans Beneficial to Homebuyers?

Floor plans allow you to visualize how a unit actually appears.
Although attractive photos and descriptions are nice, they do not provide essential information such as the number of rooms, bathrooms, unit sizes, layouts, windows, or even finer details such as furniture, electrical outlets, and unit dimensions.

This information is crucial for determining whether or not a property is suitable for a buyer or even worth viewing. For instance, a four-room HDB floorplan would indicate the number of bedrooms, unit size, and living/dining area size.
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Condominium and HDB floorplans are more accurate than photographs and written descriptions. With the proper lenses, composition, and equipment, anyone can make a space appear larger than it actually is.

This is advantageous for sellers and agents, but extremely misleading for buyers.

With floorplans, you will avoid the disappointment of discovering that the house doesn’t match your expectations based on the photos, thereby saving you time on house viewings.

Comprehending the Symbols on Condo/HDB Floor Plans Start with floor plan icons.

Indicator of a floor plan
The retaining wall
Italicized line
Normal wall
A narrow and straight line
The end-gable wall (corner units only)
Having a center line
Three lines or an opaque line
swinging door
Symbol resembling a V-shaped protractor folding door
Ladder-like stairwell symbol

1. Wall

The hdb jumbo flat floor plan illustrates how to interpret a hdb floor plan.

On a floor plan, the walls are represented by the lines. However, there are three different types of walls to consider: structural walls, normal walls, and gable-end walls.

Walls that are structural have bold lines. These walls keep the structure intact and are impregnable. Remember that, as a general rule, structural walls surround the entire unit. If you plan to renovate your home but are uncertain as to whether the walls are structural, consult your developer.
Standard walls: Thin, straight lines represent “normal” walls. These partitions separate your rooms from the remainder of the house.
These walls are found exclusively in corner units and are referred to as gable-end walls. Their sole function is to block out the sun’s rays.

If you decide to hack your walls, you must apply for the required HDB renovation permits and consider how the renovation will affect the property’s resale value.

The Microsoft Windows operating system

Similar to walls, windows appear differently on a floor plan. Typically, transparent lines or three lines are used to represent windows.

3. Doors

Doors are represented by either a protractor-like symbol (swing doors) or a V-shaped symbol (revolving doors) (folding doors).

Keep in mind that the arc indicates the direction and swing radius of the door when visualizing the flow of rooms such as the kitchen or when designing your home’s layout.

4. Floor Plan for an Executive Maisonette with Stairs
If you intend to purchase a HDB executive maisonette (EM), HDB loft unit, or duplex condominium, the stairway symbol will appear on the HDB floorplan. It looks like a ladder.

Acronyms for Singapore Condo/HDB Floor Plans

In addition to understanding the illustrations, you must learn how to decipher the various abbreviations used on a local floorplan.

The acronym for a floor plan

What it involves
HS Bomb shelter or house
DB Electrical Bay Window BW Switchboard
Area devoted to washers and dryers
W/C Toilet paper (bathroom)

HS is an abbreviation for Household/Bomb Shelter.
In the event that Singapore is bombarded, a household/bomb shelter is essentially a room with reinforced walls and blast-proof doors to protect residents from bombing and shrapnel. This feature is a requirement for all HDB apartments built after 1996.

BW is an acronym for bay window.
A bay window is a type of protruding window that provides homeowners with additional space. Prior to 2009, because they were exempt from the total gross floor area (GFA), they were quite common in private properties, but a new Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) guideline has diminished their prevalence.

Board for Distribution
The electrical switchboard protects against overloading and short circuits and serves as the primary point of power distribution in the home.

4. W/D: Washer/Dryer Designated Location
In the majority of condominium complexes, stackable washer-dryer units are included.

W/C refers to the Water Closet.
Also called a restroom or a washroom.
What to Look for in a Condo/HDB Floor Plan
Here are some additional considerations when analyzing a condo/HDB floorplan:

1. Void Strata Areas
Void areas, which buyers refer to as “air space,” are the spaces between the floor and the ceiling. They are commonly found in houses with tall ceilings (i.e. penthouses, strata bungalows, and strata terraces).
The typical floor-to-floor height of these void spaces is 4 to 4.5 meters, which is nearly double the standard ceiling height of 2.8 meters found in the majority of condominiums.

It is not uncommon for developers to charge you for this ‘extra space’ despite the fact that the spaces in question are vertical.

Properties with void areas may appear to have a lower price per square foot (psf) than properties without void areas because they are frequently 30 to 50 percent less expensive than the actual price per square foot (psf) of the area.

Consequently, some buyers may believe that units with void areas have an overall psf price that is more attractive than units with standard ceiling height.

A floor plan will assist in avoiding this confusion. Empty space on a floor plan is indicated by straight dashed lines.

2. Ledges with air conditioning and private enclosed spaces (PES)
According to the URA, a private enclosed space (PES) is a semi-outdoor space adjacent to a strata unit that is typically used for gardening, growing plants, and outdoor living.

The URA decides whether a PES is included in the GFA or not (the amount of livable space a developer can build on a given plot of land).

The GFA does not apply to PES such as air conditioning ledges, covered walkways, and tennis courts. These are the areas where developers can construct without worrying about consuming strata space, the space for which buyers pay (see what does not count as GFA here).

Even though air conditioning ledges are not included in GFA, they are strata spaces because they serve individual units.

In other words, developers can charge you for it because it is technically a part of your unit, even though it is only used to store air conditioners and bird droppings.

According to a report in the Straits Times, residents of the La Fiesta condominium in Sengkang were outraged when they discovered that the developer was charging them for air-conditioning ledges. These ledges measured approximately five meters in length and nine square meters in area. That’s nearly the size of a bedroom, to put it in perspective!

According to the report, private property buyers in Singapore spend an estimated $780 million annually on air-conditioning ledges.
While you cannot avoid paying for these ledges, you can inspect the show apartment’s layout to ensure it accurately reflects the floor plan. It is prudent to determine the size of your air conditioning ledge so that you do not overpay for unused space.

Note the AC ledge in the below Verticus condo floor plan:

how to read a property’s floor plan

3. Terraces

In 2001, the URA introduced the Balcony Incentive Scheme (BIS) to encourage developers to construct more private outdoor spaces (PES, private roof terraces, balconies) for private non-landed homes. Under this program, developers can construct private outdoor spaces with an additional 10% GFA.

This was done because the URA wanted to improve the living conditions of homeowners and provide them with additional green space.
Nonetheless, certain developers have taken advantage of this scheme by constructing expansive balconies in relation to the interior space. Even worse, buyers were required by the GFA to pay for these excessively large balconies, regardless of whether or not they required them.

Aware of this, the URA revised the BIS guidelines in order to prevent developers from taking advantage of buyers and to give buyers more options.

The following modifications were made to the BIS guidelines:

The GFA cap for the residential development bonus has decreased from 10% to 7%.

Participating in specific schemes, such as the Green Mark Bonus GFA Scheme and the new Indoor Recreation Space Bonus GFA Scheme, allows developers to still receive the 10% bonus GFA.

To prevent excessively large balconies, the balcony area for each unit has been limited to 15 percent of the total interior area.

quadruple bay windows
As previously stated, a bay window is a type of extended window space. This also creates a bay area near the window, providing the homeowner with a view of the outdoors.

Prior to 2009, bay windows were exempt from GFA calculations. Bay windows, like balconies, were excluded from the GFA because they were intended to provide homeowners with practical benefits.

Sadly, some developers saw this as an opportunity to build additional bay windows and charge buyers for them. This allowed them to not only increase their profit margins but also decrease their average cost per square foot.

In some instances, houses had bay windows on all sides. Although bay windows can add a romantic touch to a home’s interior design, they also indicate that buyers paid more for a smaller home with less usable space.
The URA has since removed bay windows from the GFA exempted list, which explains why they are less common in newer developments.

If you’re looking to purchase a home with bay windows, it’s still a good idea to determine how much of your strata area bay windows will occupy.

The Lentor Hills Residences Floorplan will be made available shortly. If you need more information about the floorplan, please call 6100 3487.

The Reserve Residence will be viewable in October/November 2022.