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What are the key elements you need to look for in a floor plan? What do the lines and symbols indicate?

Building a new home or a small home in your backyard can be stressful, but not as stressful as reading a floor plan. The lines, notations and symbols can be overwhelming. The small scale of the drawings also adds to the confusion. But you do not have to go with what the builder says about a line! You can learn to read a floor plan (maybe not as expertly as the builder) but you sure can read it to understand what is going on.

A floor plan is a bird’s eye view of your house – it is a concept from which your house design evolves. What makes the floor plan confusing is its 2-D nature. Many of us struggle to understand space and layout in space, which is why it is hard to see how the house will look based on a floor plan.

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Key elements in floor plan:

While there is no magic potion or formula to help you visualize your dream home based on the floor plan, but we can give you some tricks of the trade that’ll make your life easier. Some of the key elements that you can spot from a floor plan right away are:

Scale:

Seems negligible but very important. Floor plans are usually drawn to a ratio of 1:100. What this means is that the representation of the building on paper is 100 times smaller than the final or the actual measurement. There are also some floorplans that would have a 1:50 or 1:25 ratio. The most common scales used are 1:100, 1:200 and 1:50.

Measurements:

The numbers or measurements that you see in a floorplan are in mm – this is the standard. How does this help you? It helps you break down those intimidating looking numbers and calculate the ultimate size of your room or house – for eg., the alfresco in this image says it is 6000*2000 mm. That means the size of the alfresco is 6m*2m (1m=1000 mm).

Compass:

Every floor plan has a compass that indicates North either with an arrow and the letter ‘N’ or a colored arrow. The direction that the arrow points to is North and you can use this to determine the lay of the house. 

This will also tell you how the house will be orientated. Based on the compass, you can work changes to rooms, windows and doors to get the orientation right. Good orientation ensures the home stays warm during winter and cool during summer, reducing your energy bills.

Doors:

First thing you will notice. The doors are indicated by a single line (or two single lines, if double door) usually perpendicular to the walls (thick lines). The direction in which the line is drawn also indicates in which direction the door will open and where the hinge is – that will also give you an idea of where the handle would be and how you would enter/ exit a room.

Sliding doors: A sliding door is indicated by a lighter color line to distinguish from the walls. The opening direction is indicated either by a partly drawn line (refer screenshot) or with the help of arrow(s).

Fixtures:

Standard fixtures are represented in the floor. These include the robe, pantry, stovetop, bathtub, WC, sink and shower. Shelves and racks will also be easy to spot as they are clearly marked.

Windows:

Slightly tricky to spot these in a black and white plan, windows are indicated by a triple line in between the wall. Look for these and you will know how many windows each room and the entire house has. That will give you an idea of how well-lit and ventilated your home is going to be. Also, don’t forget, windows play an important part in the orientation of your home, so if you feel a window’s position should be changed, check the plan thoroughly and discuss with your builder to change the window placements.

Most of the plans also have minimal furnishings such as couch, TV, dining table, etc to give you an idea of space any size. With a little patience, you will be able to figure out most of the symbols and lines in a floor plan and understand what a builder is talking about.

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