How to Read a Builder’s Floorplan

April 30, 2018 Topics: News

Floorplans are the very first step in everything coming together–allowing you to visualize the layout of your home in a simplified and uncluttered way. Reading your floorplans, you’ll be able to see your new home take shape, make adjustments to the design (if needed), and get a better idea of what life will be like when it’s finished. Each floor of your home will have its own respective floorplan. A plan set is the collection of all these drawings, whereas a floorplan is what a single page is referred to.

This article will help you get a better understanding of how to interpret your floorplans by going over features and elements of a home and describing how they are represented in the drawings.

Measurements & Scale

Many design drawings include the length and width of each room. You may also find indicators of ceiling height as well in addition to the entire length and width of the home. These measurements are drawn to scale, but the scale is often not provided so you aren’t able to actually use them for true measurements. Blueprints often include the scale, but these are complicated and aren’t intended for the average person to read and understand. They’re used by the construction teams and permitting department.


The walls in your floorplan should be easy to see. They are often represented with thick rectangular lines featuring a solid fill or a pattern. Breaks in these lines often represent doors, windows, or openings. Exterior walls are often thicker to represent increased depth to include insulation.


Doors on a floor plan are typically a thin rectangle shape, adjacent to the wall it’s attached to with an arc running from the wall to the door representing the direction it swings. Pocket doors are often thin rectangles that disappear into walls with barn doors being shown alongside a wall. Note: The way a door opens can be very important to the flow and function of a room. Take real consideration in choosing the way your doors swing.


Windows are typically shown as breaks in the wall with thin lines crossing them. Some windows may also show an arc to indicate their opening direction. Floor plans cannot show vertical height and placement. These elements can greatly impact the design of the space as well as furniture placement.


Stairs often appear as a grouping of rectangular shapes with an arrow pointing up or down to indicate which floor it heads up or down to. Staircase width also plays an important role when considering furniture placement. Make sure staircases are tall/wide enough to allow for the movement of larger furniture items into your home and respective rooms.


Many floorplans will include necessary fixtures such as sinks and stoves. These items are usually represented with outlines of their shapes. When looking at your floor plan, make sure you visualize what these items will look like in proximity to each other, and whether or not you are comfortable with the layout.

Open to Below

With the rise in larger and more elaborate entryways/great rooms, there are more and more open concepts being designed. Usually from the second floor, you may see shapes labelled ‘Open to below’ which indicates this section does not have a floor and is literally open to the floor below it.

Volume and Light

Larger rooms, higher ceilings and open concept rooms all work together to make a room feel more comfortable. Many older homes were built with 8’ ceilings whereas newer homes are going to for taller rooms. For example: A long and wider room with low ceilings can make a person feel cramped despite its size.

One way to make smaller rooms feel bigger are to add larger windows. These allow more natural light to fill the room during the day adding to that feeling of comfort.

Lot Direction and Light

You may have found or designed the perfect floorplan for your family, but considering your lot is one of the utmost important steps to finalize before finishing your floorplan. Are you on a corner lot or not? Are you on the water? Do you face an attractive feature of the landscape? Knowing how sun light will move through your home is another important factor.

Choosing your lot and how your home will sit on it can impact numerous elements. After seeing the lot and the landscape surrounding it, you may want to change window placement, lighting plans, room placement and more.



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