Understanding Floor Plans
A “Floor Plan” refers to the map of an individual floor. The simplest way to understand a floor plan is to imagine looking down on a doll house without its roof.
“Design drawings” are floor plans that include a modest amount of information and are created to communicate a home design to non-professionals. “Working drawings” or “construction drawings” contain much more information: they are used to build the home.
Walls, Windows, and Doors - Plan Symbols and Features
The walls are the strongest visual elements in a floor plan. Walls are represented by parallel lines and may be solid or filled with a pattern. Breaks in walls indicate doors, windows and openings between rooms.
Measurements - Size and Width, Furniture and Use
More detailed floor plans with dimensions include “dimension strings” to locate windows, doors, walls and other architectural elements. Dimension strings are drawn parallel to the element with 45o “hash marks” at each end of the dimension string indicating where the measurement starts and ends.
Design drawings typically only include individual room dimensions and occasionally measurements for the length and width of the whole house.
Volume and Light
Size, width and furniture placement are not the only variables impacting a room’s success. Volume can be just as important. Until recently, most homes were built with 8’ tall ceilings but taller ceilings are growing in popularity. By combining “open plans” where rooms flow seamlessly from one to the next with higher ceilings, smaller plans can be made to feel surprisingly comfortable.
Another strategy used to make smaller rooms feel bigger is to include more and larger windows. Consider the placement of windows for view, balanced light, and heat and make sure you understand the size and type of windows proposed.
Experiencing the Plan
A little preparation can go a long way toward evaluating floor plans. Start by creating a list of common and high-importance events and experiences. These might include: Walking in the front door for the first time. Lying in bed at night or waking up in the morning, getting dressed and ready for your day or to go out at night, preparing food daily and with friends, doing laundry and other chores, hanging out with the family reading, playing games, watching TV, entertaining a small group, throwing a big party.
Imagine how the plan will feel and work when you are doing the things that define your life.
With practice this will become more and more familiar. Are you ready to review a floor plan?
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