How to Read Blue Prints

Four rolled blueprints against a flat blueprint.

For many, trying to read blueprints can feel like learning a new language. With all those lines, symbols and abbreviations, blueprints can boggle even the most intuitive among us.

We believe informed, educated clients can best communicate their needs, desires, and dreams. During the home building process, new home owners need to discuss their home plans with the bank, builder, subcontractors and maybe even a designer who will modify the plans.

While every designer creates and assembles home plans differently, an overview of the most common notations used in blueprints will come in handy. A simple understanding of blueprints assures that all the parties involved envision the end product in the same way.

Listed below are answers to our customers' most frequently asked questions:

What sort of paper will my plans appear on?

Plans typically appear on large paper, similar to office paper, which comes in three standard sizes — 'C' (18"x24"), 'D' (24"x36") and 'E' (36"x48").

Reproducible blueprints are drawn on paper known as "vellum." Plans on vellum paper, which is very thin and almost transparent, can be erased and redrawn. Plans need to be on vellum paper if the client intends to hire a professional designer, architect, or engineer to make modifications.

Because the designers' copyrights have been lifted, reproducible plans cost a bit more than regular blueprints. Without a copyright, unlimited copies can be made of the plans for construction of a single home. Vellums can be flipped over before copying to create a mirror-reverse set that can be used to build a home in the opposite orientation from the one shown in the catalog.

What will my plans include?

Each set of plans sold by HomeStyles will include all or most of the following items:

  • Foundation plan
  • Framing plan
  • Floor plans
  • Roof plan
  • Interior elevation drawings
  • Exterior elevation drawings (showing all four sides of the home)
  • Cross section drawings
  • Detail drawings
  • Window and door schedules (showing sizes, quantities and sometimes their part numbers)
  • Schematic drawings for electrical (showing suggested locations for fixtures, outlets, switches and wiring runs)
  • Schematic drawings for plumbing (showing locations for all plumbing fixtures)
  • Basic specifications

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