How to understand house construction blueprints

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Blueprints are no longer blue, nor do they take hours and hours of an architect’s time to draw by hand, thanks to the technology that has simplified the process. However, house plans still make use of the same symbols to indicate certain home design elements, and are produced in sets of five or six drawings to show different details of the house, its design and the scale of the stand on which the house is to be built.

Vellum drawings: to scale

You will see the first drawings of your new home on sheets of vellum, 24 x 36 inches in size. These drawings are done to scale for two reasons: to show you what the whole house will look like and allow changes to be made easily, and to provide the construction team with scale measurements according to which they need to build.

Elevation plans

One set of drawings you will receive will show elevations. You will see a front, side and back views of your new home and how these will look based on any ground elevations on your stand. If you have ridges or hollows in the land on which you want to build, the elevation plans will show how the grade of your land will be accommodated (or filled in) in the design.

Foundation plans

The foundation plans typically show the area of the foundation, drawn to scale, and (if applicable) where the basement will be. Support walls and any other basic structural designs will be indicated on the foundation plans.

Floor plans

These are usually the drawings that people are most familiar with. Detailed floor plans will show how the floor area will be divided into the various rooms and how the interior space of the home will be utilised. You will be able to identify objects like doorways, windows, bathtubs and kitchen layout on these floor plans. Sometimes the plumbing and electrical layouts are included in the floor plan, but often these are included on a separate vellum sheet to make them easier to interpret.

Detailed cross-section

The contractor will also need to see a cross-section of your house construction plans, as a floor plan (viewed from the top) will not be sufficient to construct the house – he needs a three-dimensional view. Similarly, interior elevation drawings are used to show the heights of kitchen cabinets and other interior features.

Having your home built from the ground up (literally) is exciting, but if you don’t understand an item on the house construction plans, always ask your architect for a more detailed explanation before construction begins.

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