How to Read a Floor Plan

Learning to read a floor plan is a skill that will come in handy if you’re building a new house or buying an existing one. It will also help you understand the function of each room in your new home. Read the plan bottom-up and start by looking at the front door. Once you have a general idea of where you’ll be stepping in and out of each room, picture yourself walking through the house. Once you’ve got a general sense of what you’ll be looking at, turn your attention to the bathroom, foyer, and kitchen.

Understand how to read the scale:

Before examining the plan, you need to understand how to read the scale. Most floor plans are drawn in 1:100 scales, which means that the drawing represents the building 100 times smaller than it is. However, some are drawn on a 1:50 scale, which means that a quarter of an inch on a plan equals one foot in real life. The scale will give you an idea of the overall size of the rooms.

The architectural legend on the floor plan explains how to interpret the symbols used on the plan. These symbols can include wall jacks, TV outlets, switch outlets, thermostats, lights, and garbage disposals. The most common elements on a floor plan are walls. Thicker lines than interior ones will represent exterior walls. You can also use dashed lines to indicate that an option can be added to a particular room.

Keep patience:

Once you have a basic understanding of how to read a floor plan, you can begin to consider all the home’s features. Generally, floor plans include minimal furnishings to give the general idea of space. Learning how to read a floor plan requires patience. But once you have a general idea of what you’re looking for, the process becomes more accessible. If you can’t understand a floor plan, consider some helpful tips.

Be aware of unique details:

When looking at a floor plan, imagine yourself moving through the house. Look for similarities between the rooms and note vertical and horizontal pathways. Be aware of unique details and consider the layout of each space. For example, you’ll find out where stairs will be on the plan and how the home will sit about them. A floor plan will typically indicate the dimensions and shape of each stair and whether or not there’s a handrail.

Look for is doors and windows:

Another essential element to look for is doors and windows. These are often drawn as rectangles with a thin line in the middle. The window location is also shown. In most cases, a door is represented by a solid line, while a window is shown as a break in the wall. If the door opens into another room, it will be represented by a quarter circles. The doors on a floor plan aren’t shown, but they are essential to note.

Terms and abbreviations:

The cover page of a typical set of plans is essential. This page breaks down the terms and abbreviations used in the plans. Symbol legends help you understand which symbols mean which parts of the house. The covers of most plans also include general notes and a simplified elevation of the front of the house. Every single page contains a cover block. These blocks provide consistent information about the building and its area.

Compass directions:

Compass directions are another critical element to look for. While not standard on floor plans, these directions are essential for maximizing light flow in the space. Compass directions are often indicated on the site plan or elevation. They can also help you visualize the relationship between rooms and the building’s features. For example, a compass sign on a floor plan pointing north will indicate the direction of the compass.

A floor plan is like a treasure map for construction workers. The drawing shows where rooms are and what they’re made of. Some plans also mention the dimensions of the rooms. While the 2D drawing usually shows the length and width of a room, others include the entire room area. This blueprint uses inches and feet as standard measurements for space. Besides the measurements, a floor plan will show the locations of walls, doorways, stoves, and other fixtures.

Keep in mind when reading a floor plan is scale:

House plans are drawn to scale, but their sizes aren’t the same as your actual home. The exterior walls will be thicker in real life. It is essential to calculate the real-life dimensions of significant rooms and compare them with what you have now. Likewise, the symbols used for HVAC systems can be challenging to read. The National Council of Building Designer Certification recommends using a tape measure for accuracy.