How to read a floor plan?


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Considered to be the heart of constructional drawings, a floor plan reveals the area, structure, stair location, doors and windows along with the entire room layout. From the type of house to its size, a floor plan unveils everything! In case you find it difficult to envision your new home from the perspective of a floor plan, here are a few pointers to help you out.

Also called as a blueprint, a floor plan comprises of all the necessary details that you require to build a new home. It refers to the map of an individual floor. In order to understand a floor plan in a simple way, you need to look at it from a bird’s eye view. Imagine the house without a roof and then locate the front entrance. The next step is to visualise opening the front door and walking through the house.

Walls, doors, and windows:

Being the strongest visual elements in a floor plan, walls are usually represented using parallel lines or solid patterns. The breaks between the walls indicate doors, windows and openings to the rooms. Each of these is given a location and a size. While windows are represented using three parallel lines, doors are shown using a straight line perpendicular to a wall and an arc which connects this line to the wall, signifying the direction in which it opens. Pocket doors are represented as thin rectangles disappearing into walls.



Since a stairway is an essential architectural element which takes up a significant amount of floor space, it is important to accurately represent them in the floor plan. A stairway is usually drawn as a series of rectangles with an arrow pointing towards the direction of your travel. Stairs rising 3 ft above the floor are shown with the help of dashed lines after a diagonal cut.





While ceiling transitions are usually not shown in a floor plan owing to their occurrence, the lower floor may show the ceiling height numerically, using a dashed line. Majority of the homes are built with a ceiling height of 8 ft, but taller ceilings up to 10 ft are also growing in popularity as they give the perception of a larger space. 

Furniture, Fixtures, and Fittings

A floor plan also displays the location of sinks, toilets and other vital fixtures with the help of symbols that are pretty easy to spot. The location of these fixtures can help to determine the comfort or awkwardness of the adjoining area. Here are some of the symbols to look out for.


Furniture Placement in a room

Common Symbols to look out for



Detailed floor plans also include dimensions to help you locate windows, walls, and other architectural elements. The sizes are in general represented by using hash marks, indicating where the measurement starts and ends. Design drawings may typically include individual room dimensions rather than the dimensions of the whole house.

The takeaway:

Though reading a floor plan may initially seem to be complex, it can become easy with a bit of understanding and practice. Before you decide to buy a new home or relocate to a new abode, it is always advised to ask the contractor if you can possibly review the architectural plan. Focus especially on the placement of windows to better understand the view along with the light and heat entering the room.

It is important to note that a large room with a low ceiling will always feel cramped despite the huge space. One of the strategies to make a small room appear bigger is to include more windows. Additionally, you must also consider the volume of the place. Carefully look after the measurements and the obstructions, if any. Always remember that a little study and preparation towards evaluating the floor plan will save you from hassles in the long run. 

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