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What Is a Floor-Through Apartment?

Shara Bose
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Apartment seekers looking for the maximum amount of space should consider a floor-through apartment. As a spatial real estate concept, it took many years for the floor-through apartment to be fully realized; however, once it was, it caught on as "home living on one floor."

Even today, floor-through apartments offer privacy and the spaciousness of a home, but they will cost you a little extra depending on where you live.

What Is a Floor-Through Apartment?

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the term floor-through refers to “an apartment that occupies an entire floor of a building.” Floor-though apartments tend to be more costly than apartments that share floors. However, they usually enjoy the advantage of privacy, space, air circulation and oftentimes additional light.

Multiple Definitions

While the dictionary definition may seem obvious, the term “floor-through” is sometimes used misleadingly to describe an apartment that runs from front to back of a building, while sharing the same floor with another unit across from it. These are said to be floor-through apartments because of the cross ventilation and light they may have, compared with buildings with separate front- and rear-facing units. However, a true floor-through apartment is one residence that takes up most of, if not all, of the entire square footage on a single floor within a building.

Home Sweet Home

With regard to the layout of a floor-through and its square footage, buildings originally intended for commercial use and later converted to residential apartments tend to be larger and more spacious than floor-through apartments that were originally built for residential purposes or that were converted from previously single-family homes. In her book, "Alone Together: A History of New York’s Early Apartments," Elizabeth Collins Cromley writes that floor-through apartments were first seen in New York City during the 1850s as “ad hoc subdivisions that revised formerly private, single-family houses into proto-apartments with newly broken-up interior spaces allocated to several individual families.” In New York City it would take nearly a century for the floor-through apartment to be fully realized as a real estate product, with developers building apartments specifically for the use of one family per floor.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

In general, the shape and square footage of a floor-through apartment can vary drastically from building to building. According to The New York City Department of City Planning Zoning Handbook, city planners decide the size and shape of building lots, as well as city zoning ordinances that regulate the height and use of a building. The result can be radical in terms of the shape of an apartment and its square footage, as well as how many units the building is required by law to contain.

The Value of a Dollar

Finally, both historically and currently, as a means of securing private living space, floor-through apartments generally demand higher rental and sale prices. If money is no object when it comes to your real estate needs, floor-through apartments continue to be desirable types of homes, especially in densely populated urban areas where property values are high.