The Right Way to Read the Floor Plan

When shopping for a home you have collected a lot of project brochures each with four or more available floor plans. Making sense out of these floor plans which suit your needs the best is a daunting task. To make it easier for you to understand the map, it is advisable to re-visit your home on paper with the following in mind to make your task and process.

The Right Way to Read the Floor Plan

The Right Way to Read the Floor Plan

When we plan to build a new home, the floor plan is a treasure map, written in symbolic language and promising the fulfillment of a dream. When we read floor plans we imagine the simple lines and arc’s stretching into walls, doors, windows, and we imagine ourselves in a home and wonder how the places will feel both empty and full of life. But the language of the floor plan can be subtle.

What is a floor plan?

Floor plans were called blueprints. They came in a role and included all details required to build or renovate a home. Today they still contain ‘building instructions’ in the form of multiple pages of drawings, but most house papers are delivered as digital files and can be viewed on screen or printed out on regular paper for review, to get bids or submit for permits.

The overall floor plan gives a two dimensional bird’s eye view of a floor level in the house. What you perceive are the walls, windows, doors, staircases, cabinets, appliances and fixtures. The rooms are labeled so we know where each functional area is with regard to another room. We are able to see how we can go from one room to another. Because the doors and windows are show cased we know how each relates to the other and also to the other items of the rooms.

How to Read It?

Walk your plan-The best to understand the plan is to walk it on paper. As you take this virtual walk, record how you feel and what you see when you walk from one room to another. To improvise, put yourself in the middle of the room and see in the four directions.

Walls, Windows, Doors- These are the plan symbols and features. The walls are the strongest visual elements in a floor plan. Walls are represented by parallel lines, and may be solid or filled with a pattern. Breaks in walls indicate door, windows and entrances into other rooms.

Stairs-Stairs are drawn as a series of rectangles with a direction arrow telling you whether the stairs travel up to the next level or are going downwards.

Furniture, Fittings, Fixtures and Finishes- Most floor plans show the location of sinks, toilets, and other critical fixtures. Skilled designers try to locate the kitchen and bath fixtures because they know that precise layout matters. Designers may include flooring materials also in their layout to provide scale and help the viewer imagine how the room will feel.

Measurements, size and width- More detailed plans include ‘dimension strings’ to locate windows, doors, and other architectural elements. Dimension strings are drawn parallel to the element with 45* ‘hash marks’ at each end of the string to show where the measurement starts and ends.

Reading floor plans can be difficult for a common man, but these depict building sections, elevations and numerous details. They are best for describing scales and size of spaces, the relationship between spaces and movement across the house. A floor plan is therefore a diagram of a horizontal plane cut through a building showing one floor.

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