Understanding building plans - The Floor Plan

In this post I will concentrate on the floor plan part of the building plan. The floor plan shows the layout of the building, where which rooms will be, their names and how they lead from one to the other. It also contains details about fittings such as sanitary fitting and windows. Let’s dive right in.
I have included a PDF example file here.
(Take note that the accompanying sample sketch is a simplified version of a residence drawn specifically for this post, and should not be used or seen as a complete plan.)
It will make things easier for you if you print this file and follow along. Please note that the supplied plan is not to scale.

  • Each plan should have a description telling you what you are looking at. Usually it is written below the sketch, in this case it says ‘Plan: Residence’.
  • Together with the name (or description) of the sketch, there should be a scale to show you what scale the sketch was printed in. In this case the scale is 1:100.
  • There should be an arrow showing the orientation of the building. In most cases the arrow will show which direction north is. It might be marked with an ‘N’ as in this example.
  • Each room in the building should be named, in this case with names such as ‘Bedroom’, ‘Lounge’, ‘Kitchen’ etc.
  • The sketch should indicate which floor coverings are to be installed in the building. In this case, all floors are to have tiles as a covering.
  • Each window should be drawn, and each window should be clearly marked to show the type. Check the main bedroom on the sample, you will see the window is marked as ND11. The lines below the text ND11 is how we draw windows.
  • The drainage system, or what most people will think of as the sewer system, should be clearly shown. The symbols each have a meaning. ‘B’ is for Bath, ‘WC’ is for toilet, ‘WHB’ is for the Hand Basin, ‘SW’ is the shower. ‘S’ is the Sink, and ‘APPL’ in this case denotes appliances that needs drainage, such as washing machines and dishwashing machines. The ‘Prep’ in the kitchen is a Prep bowl, used to wash veggies etc.
  • Note the two arrows marked ‘A’. They are section lines, and is where your architect will draw a section through the building to show the builder how the house is to be constructed. As the owner you should probably not need to understand that sketch.
  • Outside the house, there are a number of lines leading off from the sewer connection points. These lead to the main sewer system. The symbol ‘G’ is for the Gulley. Each building with a drainage system should have at least one gulley. ‘AE, V/V and S/S’ stands for Access Eye, Vent Valve and Stub Stack’. CE and IE stand for Cleaning eye and Inspection eye. These symbols are directives for the plumber to follow.
  • To the right and top of the sample sketch you will see lines with figures. These are Dimension Lines. They give you the sizes of each of the rooms. Each set of lines corresponds to walls and rooms in the house. In this case, you can see that the Lounge is 4000 millimeters (4 meters) wide, while the lounge and open plan kitchen together is 8115 millimeters (or 8.115 meters) long. In this example the dimensions are not complete, I only added a few to illustrate the example.
  • There are many more symbols and notes that can be found on a building plan. These will mostly be directives for the builders, plumbers and other artisans to follow.


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