How to Read Floor Plans and House Elevation Drawings



(Source : Google Images)

Does the above picture perplex you? Well, the world of construction and architecture depend on drawings. The language of communication then is the blue prints and the drawings that represent the entire project.  Reading pages of text or an entire manual while beginning each project is not only time consuming, but it also defeats the purpose, as it does not give the ‘real picture’. A blueprint, on the other hand, is built to scale. It is a literal representation of what the end project will look like, only it is scaled down to fit the paper.  But reading them and accurately interpreting them are by no means child’s play. Here we take you through some tips on how to read floor plans and house elevation drawings.

From builders to architects, realtors to even prospective owners, everyone requires blueprints of a project. But a house, a complex, or a building is not single dimensional. It is multi-dimensional, and for this reason, needs to be viewed and examined from different angles. What the draughtsman or the designer has indicated can be understood from three different de facto architectural drawings:

  • Floor plans
  • Elevations
  • Cross sections

Floor plans are a visually complete 2D view of what the completed structure would look like, including each and every floor, every room, the plumbing, the fixtures, and often, for the sake of working with a clear picture, even some furniture. It is like looking at a doll house from the top, without the roof on. In order to decipher the finer points of the floor plan, one needs to be able to interpret the symbols that are used in the blueprints.

Floor plan house designs

(Source: CC)

Along with understanding the diagrammatic representations used in the floor plans, the person reading them needs to also understand how the blueprints are drawn to scale. Normally a scale of 1/4th inch is taken to represent every foot of the structure. In simple words, if the expected size of the house is 20 feet, then the blueprint would be scaled down to five inches to fit the sheets. An architect’s scale is useful in reading the finer details accurately.

Elevations are used to represent the exterior view of the structure from all four sides. It shows the front, the rear, and the two sides of the structure.The elevations view is also mandatory for the issuing of the building permits, as local authorities will need to check if the building specs are in sync with different regulations.

house designs at apnaghar

(Source: ApnaGhar House Elevation Designs)

While the usual scale used to depict elevations in blueprints is a 1:100 ratio, this may vary to suit the requirement. Elevations not only include the proposed finish to the exterior, but they also include the specifications of the doors, windows, balconies, front porch etc.

Cross sections show a slice of the entire structure, both the interiors as well as the exterior. This becomes vital when there is a need to magnify upon the finer details of interior designing work, electrical fittings, insulation, plumbing etc.

Cross section 2d elevation house design

(Source: CC)

A blueprint is like a map that is used by the designer to convey his/her ideas on paper. An accurate reading and interpretation of these visually represented ideas can act as a clear direction or projection to what your ‘dream home’ will look like.

For more information on the components of a house plan, visit this link on our website -