The building process

Understanding a Floor Plan

What is a floor plan?

Floor plans are in-scale drawings from a perspective of the relationship between the different rooms, spaces, and any physical features of a single level of a building. This allows you to view the layout of the home and gauge the circulation and traffic flow. Dimensions are also often included in floor plans to give an idea of the general size of each area. 

Knowing how to read floor plans is essential to understand for both professionals and the everyday buyer, as they indicate the primary inclusions of a home. From looking at a floor plan, you can gauge how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, how much storage the home has. You can also get a top-level understanding of whether the home’s layout is open plan and how each room flows into and connects to each other. Understanding floor plans allow you to visualise how people will move through each space and if there is enough room for your intended purpose. 

Floor plans are different to building plans since floor plans only offer a conceptual starting point through a simple diagram demonstrating the layout. They show the big picture of what you can expect for your living, work, and alfresco spaces; however, they do not offer enough information for construction. Building plans need to include complete blueprints and construction-ready drawings that have more depth. Learning how to read buildings plans requires the more technical expertise of a developer. 

How to Read a Floor Plan

Since so many details need to be expressed within a floor plan, architects often use various symbols to indicate different house features. This set of standardised symbols and abbreviations are able to make the plan less cluttered and easier to read. Every floor plan you receive should include a symbol legend so you can figure out what each symbol indicates. There will also often be floor plan notes to provide additional context for the building. 

Symbols used on floor plans often fall within three categories: appearance (e.g., a toilet looks like a toilet), conventions (e.g., windows are denoted with three parallel lines), and labels (e.g., T stands for thermostat). 

Some of the most common symbols for how to read plans for a house include:

  • The scale. This will let you know if the floor plan is in feet and inches or uses the metric system. The top symbol is an example of a feet and inches scale, while the bottom scale symbolises the metric system.
  • The compass. The compass symbol will tell you what the orientation of the property is. For example, the symbol below indicates that the property faces North.
  • Walls: Walls can be represented by two parallel lines, the outer one representing the exterior wall and the inner line representing the interior wall. 
  • Fireplace: The symbol below represents a fireplace against a wall.
  • Doors. Different door symbols can represent various styles of doors. In the example below, from top to bottom, the symbols represent a single door, double door, sliding door, bi-fold door, and pocket door. 
  • Windows: Three parallel lines denote windows if they are single casement. 
  • Stairs: Stairs are indicated by a series of lines, and an arrow, the style of the symbol can indicate whether the stairs go straight up, change direction halfway, or are circular. 
  • Kitchen fittings and appliances: These symbols represent different kitchen appliances, including a sink, sink with draining board, dishwasher, oven, cooktop, and refrigerator. 
  • Bathroom fixtures: The following symbols denote a bath, corner bath, shower, sink, double sink, toilet, and a bidet. 
  • Wardrobe: Within bedrooms, a closet is represented similar to a protruding door with a dotted line to represent the rail. 

How To Read Floor Plan Measurements

You can understand room sizes either by the width x height detailed in the middle of the room or next to the wall along a line with an arrow at each end. 

Common fixtures to look out for include a bath, shower, sink, and toilet in the bathrooms, a sink, dishwasher, oven, and cooktop in the kitchen and the washer and dryer in the laundry. Want to know how to find the right floor plan for you? Check out our guide to choosing a floor plan.

What can’t a floor plan tell you about a home?

Though you can gather a lot of information from your floor plan, they are one dimensional and don’t demonstrate what’s happening with the house from a liveability or design perspective. 

When house designs used to be designed in a stock standard fashion on a basic block, floor plans were a far better indication of how the home would look. As housing design trends and capabilities have evolved to be more unique and creative, floor plans became a less reliable way to express the feel of a home design. That is why home designers have begun creating 3D models that allow you to better visualise how the home will work for you and your lifestyle.

If the only visual information provided is a floor plan, people often don’t understand what the house will look like once built, causing them to change the positioning of doors and windows. Now, floor plans are simply step one, while walkthroughs and display homes showcase houses more accurately. Looking inside a display home can give you the best insight into what the actual home design will look like and allow you to visualise the space as your own.

Talk to a G.J. Gardner Consultant

Floor plans are a good starting point but moving past these flat diagrams is important for allowing you to choose the best home design for your specific property and needs. That is why working with G.J. Gardner Homes Consultants is the best way to find the perfect plan for your budget and lifestyle. Contact one of our friendly team members today.