Beginner’s Guide to Understanding a Set of House Plans

Depending on how much detail your builder or local building inspector requires, the minimum set of plans should include the floor plan, exterior elevations, foundation or basement plan, and a roof plan drawn to scale.

Just so you’ll know, a scale is nothing more than a shrunken ruler so that 1′ -0″ (12 inches) is now 1/4 inch long as far as your drawing is concerned. So here then is an example. If we use a scale to draw an 8′ line. in reality the line is only 2 inches long on the paper in real life.

So let’s see what’s included in a set of plans:

A Floor Plan is a view of a house that would be seen if you were to take a knife and slice the house to see the walls, windows, doors, etc. from the top about mid ways down the walls. This is also called the dimensional plan. Most all floor plans are drawn at the scale of 1/4″ = 1′- 0″. It should include all the dimensions (measurements) of the wall, window, and door locations, door and window sizes, stair locations, room labels, locations of exposed beams, cased opening sizes and locations, bathroom layout showing sink vanity, tub, and toilet, kitchen cabinets with appliances & sink fixtures, and construction notes.

Some floor plans include the electrical symbols showing the receptacles, light switches, light fixtures, ceiling fans, cable connections, telephone jacks, and meter base locations. These can be included in the dimensional plan but many opt to have it on a separate drawing.

The Exterior Elevations include all four (4) views of the home which are front, left, rear, & right drawn also at 1/4″ = 1′ – 0″ scale. The are some plans that have the front elevation drawn at 1/4″ scale and then the left, rear & right at 1/8″ = 1′ – 0″ On these views are notes about what type of siding or veneer, the roof pitches (angles), grade locations, finished floor & ceiling locations, and a roof plan showing the house from the top view. The roof plan is usually drawn at 1/8″ = 1′ – 0″ scale or 1/16″ = 1′ – 0″.

The Foundation or Basement Plan is the same type as the floor plan showing wall types, footing sizes, floor joist or truss locations, support beams, pilasters or piers, and ventilation vents & openings. The foundation or basement plan is also a dimensional type drawing. Most of these plans are drawn at the scale of 1/4″ = 1′- 0″.

If the plan is more detailed, then we would see sectional details showing the wall and roof construction of the home, HVAC plan, plumbing plan, and cabinet elevations. Even more involved plans would show the types of mouldings, pediments, & trims in greater detail.

Tim Davis is a veteran Architectural Designer who teaches a full course in Residential Drafting at http://houseplandrafting.us/. He also teaches students how to read and understand blueprints at http://technicaldrawing.us/index.php/architectural-blueprint-reading/

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Timothy

I’m your host and webmaster. I’m someone who enjoys life to it’s fullest and love programming, drafting, farming, and an ordained Baptist pastor and sheriff’s department chaplain.



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