Simple, Inexpensive Ways To Provide Floor Plans

November 22nd, 2009

A readers recent question about providing floor plans made me realize that I’ve never done a post on the subject of floor plans.

First of all floor plans are one of those services like flyers. Some  real estate photographers don’t want to do fool around with doing graphics work. On the other hand if you don’t mind doing graphics, and want to diversify, it’s a service that has a natural association with photography because it’s all part of real estate marketing.

My philosophy on floor plans has always been that if the home owner has a set of blueprints for their home, I’ll do a floor plan, but for older homes, where there are no blueprints, my interest falls towards zero  very rapidly.

What I’ve always done to create floor plans is to have my local Kinkos scan the blueprints and reduce them. I then put them into a Photoshop layer and create a 50% opacity layer over the blueprint layer. Then you can effectively trace the blueprint with the line size of your choice. After tracing, increase the opacity of the tracing layer back to 100%. You can use this technique with Adobe Illustrator but to me, Illustrator has a steep learning curve. The finished floor plan can be used as part of the flyer and or virtual tour. I find that home owners of homes that are 5 to 10 years old usually have a roll of blueprints tucked away some place.

I’m sure there are some that will find my method of creating floor plans with Photoshop as kind of wacky. But when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail! My major motivation is my familiarity with Photoshop. There are a number of other ways to create floor plans that may be faster and give better looking results (note: I’ve not used any of these, but they have been suggested by members of the PFRE flickr discussion group):

  1. EZfloorplan.com – This is a site where you can send sketches on a paper napkin and get back a well drawn floor plan for as low as $28 USD a floorplan.
  2. Floorplanet.com – Similar site to EZfloorplan they do you floor plan in 24 hrs. Price depends on square footage.
  3. Apex Software – More expensive approach (around $600 AUD). Software and hardware that runs on touch screen tablet or windows mobile.
  4. Rapidsketch.com – Floor plan drawing software- $149 USD.
  5. WinSketch.com – A $49 USD application that is designed for appraisers.

If  you really get deep into doing floor plans from scratch you may want to get a laser range finder to simplify measuring. This will making the measuring process go faster.

A word of warning:
Another reason I have never gotten into doing floor plans for homes without blueprints is that lot dimensions and room dimensions are a natural source of law suits in the real estate business. Buyers tend take the marketing materials as the absolute truth and will get worked up of the actual home is even slightly different. It’s important to put a notice on floor plans or lot diagrams that they are for illustration and marketing purposes only. Make sure the agent is taking the responsibility. Our company lawyer has always discouraged agents from pointing out lot lines or supplying room dimensions because it opens up opportunities for misunderstandings and law suits. Even if you have blueprints you have to be careful that the home was actually built like the blueprints specify. Frequently, there will be differences. Make sure you do your due diligence in your area and understand and protect yourself from any legal risk you are undertaking when you supply floor plans. I never supply room dimensions explicitly and put a disclaimer on the plan that buyers should room verify dimensions.

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11 Responses to “Simple, Inexpensive Ways To Provide Floor Plans”

  • […] for the rooms for this listing in Albuquerque, NM. Additionally, I saw Larry Lohrman’s post today talking about some simple yet inexpensive ways to provide floor plans at Photography for Real Estate. I think it’s obvious many (not all) consumers are curious […]

  • also try http://www.floorplanner.com they offer a great designer for free!!!

  • Back in the mid-70s, I solicited homebuilders accounts and provided brochures, newpaper ads, entrance and model signs, etc. But my design skills fell short of floor plans and I had to hire technical artists who could draw these up for me. Today, that would have been a lot simpler and I’m pleased to have this information at our disposal in the event it ever comes up. Thanks for providing the links!

  • Larry,

    I’d second Ryan’s recommendation. Have you taken a look at http://www.floorplanner.com? They’re easily the best designed floorplans I’ve seen. You mention that you hate doing floorplans without blueprints because inaccurate dimensions are such a trigger for lawsuits — one of the things I like about Floorplanner is you can turn off display of the dimensions, and instead rely on furniture objects placed in the plan (interactive, so a visitor can move them around and start to imaging what the home would be like if it were theirs) to give a sense of scale.

    It’s a great differentiator, and often results in calls to ask about specific dimensions, at which point you can lead the conversation where you like (e.g. to scheduling a showing of the home).

  • I’ve done hundreds of floorplans (from crudely sketched drawings & dimensions done by maintenance men) for the company I work for. In our searching, Microsoft Visio is an incredible program to create floorplans for apartments/homes that have no existing ones if it’s a need. If someone draws out a basic floorplan of their home and does the measurements I can normally get one done in 30-40 minutes from scratch easily. Haven’t checked out these other sites, but Visio is incredible at creating them and it does have quite a range of options in saving the document and also adding some frills.

    Great post, though.

  • Mallory- Several people have told me that the use VISIO to draw floorplans. I’ve never used VISIO but from what I know about it I think it would be a great tool for this use.

    Do you use the standard version or the professional version? Standard version is only $149 but the professional version is pricey… too pricey.

  • Recently RTV presented to me floor plans provided and hosted by Icovia http://www.icovia.com/realestate/ . I think they have one of the best floor plan software – easy to operate/create yet very detailed as far as measurements and symbols. Another great feature allowing the viewer to add different furniture, appliences even plants. I will actually work on 2 different flr plans tmro. so I will post links etc. if anyone would be interested.

  • In the USA there is a web site called http://www.floorplanonline.com and I hear that they are coming to Canada in March, 2010 under http://www.floorplanonline.ca with either a professional photographer and measurer or do-it-yourself capablitites creating a “template that includes both plans and pics. Have a look at either web site for clarifications and examples. Looks great and fairly priced.

    Adam

  • I’ve been trying to contact floorplanet.com but they don’t seem to be in business any more. Does anyone still use them?

  • I ‘m noobie on blog and have recently created myown site and currently I ‘m doing my best to learn as many as I can about this short of new world. I truly love your blog skin, may I know what layout is that? Is this customized template or is this paid one? Anyway I can’t afford to get paid design nor got the ability to custmozied template myself. Sorry for the newbie question, thanks.

  • Is anyone using actual photography for their floorplans? Ive always wanted to do this (along with all my other “great” ideas) but havent had time/motivation. It seems a well camera placed in the same upper corner of every room pointed downward with a nice wide lens should be able capture the room for a nice 3d view of a floorplan. (a spherical panorama would do this nicely too, and allow the floorplan to be turned by the viewer, but soo much woork) Putting all the actual rooms in the floor plan would look so cool! You could take it up a notch by shooting an aerial outside and use that to build a model of the home with its roof off. It would be a lot of work but what an eye catcher it would be if the process could be streamlined.

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