Learn How to Read a Floor Plan
If you find yourself lost when it comes to reading floor plans, we explain the essential symbols and conventions
While floor plans do reveal a lot about the functional characteristics of a home, they often lack the information needed to describe the home’s overall feel. This is because they can’t easily show us what is going on in the third dimension. So when looking at a floor plan, remember that you’re looking at just one view of the home and you’ll need to look at other views to really understand all of the home’s features.
Having said this, let’s look at what a floor plan shows.
The rooms are labelled so we know where each functional area is in relationship to another room. And we’ll be able to see how we can get from room to room. Because windows and doors are shown, we can see how each relates to the others and to other items in a room. For example, we’ll be able to see if doors and windows are aligned to create view corridors.
I find that the best way to understand a plan is to put yourself in it and ‘walk’ around the home. As you take this virtual walk, record what you see, what you feel and how you get from room to room. Another way to understand the plan is to virtually put yourself in the middle of a room and record what you see as you look in at least four directions.
A legend can also include a north arrow. In fact, it’s a drawing convention that the top right of the drawing page is always north.
Other items that can be included in a legend are the owners’ names, the project address, the architect and other designers’ names and the date (especially important with a construction drawing so revisions can be managed).
Walls are drawn as parallel lines with breaks where windows and doors occur. A particularly useful drawing convention that’s used in a renovation or addition project is to show the existing walls with no fill between the parallel lines while showing the new walls with a pattern or dark colour between the lines.
It’s often a good idea to have interior elevations drawn for these rooms. While we can see in the plan where the cabinets, appliances etc. are all located, we don’t know their height, type, or style. Only in an interior elevation will we see this information, because this drawing looks across straight at wall or other vertical surface.
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