• Published: Dec 12th, 2009

Definition of New York City residential building types

screen-capture-3Pre-war? Walk-ups? For the uninitiated, there are some unique terms used to describe buildings and/or apartments in New York City. Here’s a quick guide to help you make sense of it all.

Brownstones and Townhouses. These are typically four to six story buildings built in the 1800s to early 1900s. They are either single family houses or have been converted into multiple apartments. As a single family home, a townhouse or brownstone offers buyers privacy and the ability to purchase without the cooperative board process. Generally, these buildings afford more charm, with features such as gardens, fireplaces, beautiful floors and ornamental wood moldings. These buildings typically do not have a doorman. One can also find a co-op or condo unit in a townhouse building. Some apartments in townhouses can have grand living spaces and be quite expensive. The term “brownstone” refers to the type of material used as facing on the front of the structure. See agents that specialize in Manhattan brownstones and townhouses.

Pre-war Buildings. “Pre-war” a term you will often hear in New York City. Pre-war buildings are those built before World War II. These buildings are usually 10 to 20 stories, provide spacious apartment lay-outs and gracious architectural amenities, with features such as large rooms, fireplaces, hardwood parquet floors and high ceilings. These can be doorman or non-doorman buildings. Pre-war buildings in Manhattan have a following–some folks won’t even look at an apartment that is not in this category.

Post-War Buildings. Post-war buildings in New York City were built between the late 1940s and 1970s. They are generally high-rise and are constructed of white, red or brown brick. Most will have doormen. Post-war Manhattan apartments may actually afford more living space than their pre-war counterparts in studio, one and two bedroom sizes. They have ample closets, a live-in superintendent and laundry facilities.

High-rise Full Service Buildings. These are generally associated with new construction or are apartment buildings that were built starting in the 1980s. They are typically condominiums, 20 to 40 or more stories with doorman and concierge services. Other amenities often include: health clubs and swimming pools, valet services and parking garages. See agents that specialize in Manhattan high-rise full service buildings.

Elevator Buildings. This description is usually reserved for a non-doorman building that is 6 to 20 stories tall. There is usually an intercom security system, and some may have video security. These buildings can fall into either the pre-war or the post-war category.

Loft Buildings. These buildings either were previously built for commercial or manufacturing purposes and are now used for residential living spaces, or are newly constructed as loft buildings. The spaces typically offer higher ceilings (9 to 20 feet), open spaces and original details such as supporting columns, tin ceilings, etc. They are usually found in Greenwich Village, SoHo, TriBeCa, Chelsea, Flatiron, Nolita, and lower Manhattan. They often do not have the services of a doorman building. See agents that specialize in Manhattan lofts.

Walk-up Buildings. This is the least expensive type of housing, and the quality can vary widely. Usually these are four to five story buildings with no elevator, hence the term “walk-up.” They were originally constructed as multi-family housing and lack the charm and elegance of traditional brownstones or townhouses.

For independent reviews and profiles of top agents who know the ins and outs of buying and selling homes in New York City, visit TopAgentGuide.com.

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