A Helpful Guide to Reading Blueprints

Sitting down to read a house plan, or blueprint, has the ability to induce anxiety and frustration. The combination of symbols, abbreviations, and labyrinth of lines can confuse even a seasoned designer. Our goal with this article is to help you become more comfortable with reading the three basic sheets provided in all of Architectural Designs house plans: exterior elevations, floor plans, and building cross sections.

Exterior Elevations

The exterior elevation drawing is a completely flat view, with no artistic perspective, which provides you with an overall view of what the house will look like upon completion. Any plan that you order from Architectural Designs will include at least four elevation drawings; front, rear, and one of each side. Some home plans with more intricate corners (I’m look at you courtyards!) or turns in the layout will provide additional elevations to provide detail in areas otherwise obstructed in the standard elevations.

The elevation view provides exterior details, such as the building height and materials used (both siding and roofing). This view not only provides the homeowner with a sense of what the finished home will look like, but is also given to the appropriate authorities to ensure the building meets local zoning regulations.

Some of Architectural Designs house plans will also include interior elevations. These typically highlight kitchen cabinet details, suggested hood vent details, and will offer insight into any built-in shelving, storage, or desks. Interior elevations are not included in every plan, so be sure to reach out to a friendly customer service representative at Architectural Designs to get more information on the details provided in a house plan you are interested in. Just be sure you include our plan number (ex. 51754HZ) so we can quickly pull up the correct info for you!

Floor Plans

The floor plan provides a view of the home from above; as if the homeowner were directly above the home, looking down, and the roof had been removed. This view shows the walls, stairs, fixtures, and will typically include the furniture, location of electrical lights, and built-in cabinetry and appliances.

By familiarizing yourself with the commonly used symbols below, you’ll quickly navigate between rooms with ease and confidence.

Common Blueprint and Floor Plan Symbols

Blueprints are drawn to scale, meaning they are an exact representation of the house that will be built, but scaled down to fit on paper. Most plans will be drawn to 1/4″ scale. Simply put, that translates to every 1/4″ on a house plan will relate to 1′ in real world dimensions. The scale will always be provided on the plan sheet. Room dimensions are usually listed on the floor plan, but for smaller areas, you may benefit from an architect’s scale.

Floor plans show on the internet won’t typically adhere to accurate scaling measurement. These floor plans are intended for marketing purposes, and to show the home in a relatively simple to read and offer a quick, clean view of the plan. Many times you’ll see there are measurements missing from these marketing plans, which is done to protect the copyright of the designer or architect who designed the home. We undertand

Building Cross Sections

The last view we’ll discuss is the cross section plan, which is viewing the inside of the home, cut down through the center; similar to a slice of bread. This provides a vertical section view, and offers the builder interior and exterior construction details.

Building cross section plans can be complex and difficult to read due to the large amount of details included. These plans include wall and roof framing details, exterior wall insulation, and interior details like ceiling height, moldings, and cabinetry. The number of cross section plans provided depends on the complexity of the home design.

At Architectural Designs, no two house plans are the same. Each plan is designed by a licensed architect or residential building designer. You can find what’s typically included in a plan here, but we encourage you to contact the friendly staff over at Architectural Designs for the specific sheet index of the plan you’ve chosen. We hope this has helped you gain a little more insight into how to read and understand house plans and blueprints, making your plan search a little easier.

Are you ready to dive into your plan search? Click here now to get started!

Still hungry for more house plan knowledge? Click here to learn more about the first steps you should take when deciding to build your new home!