7 Useful Tips When Reading Floor Plans

A floor plan can basically be described as a scaled diagram of a room or building when viewed from the top down. In the modern world, floor plans have become an industry standard when it comes to construction of buildings. As a norm, they usually contain building instructions for a structure which can include, dimensions for a structure, fittings, fixtures and in some instances, the kind of finish to be applied.

While floor plans are considered as being very important for the construction of a building, the problem usually comes in when interpreting them. Floor plans can be quite hard to interpret especially for individuals who might not have had prior experience I the building industry. However, with a little guidance, they can be easily interpreted. This said, the following is an overview on 7 useful tips when reading floor plans might prove invaluable when interpreting a floor plan

Floor Plan

Walls, Doors And Windows

Walls, doors and windows are considered as an integral part of every structure. As such, they are the most important features of a floor plan but are usually easily confused with one another due to the fact that their schematic representations on a plan are almost similar. The schematics used for floor plans in Singapore conform to industry standards and as such, does not differ with schematics being used in other countries. The following is an outline on how to interpret wall, door and window schematics

· Walls –

Walls are arguably the most important part of a plan as they not only dictate the scale used but also the layout of the room. As a norm, walls are usually indicated by 2 parallel lines that might either be solid or filled with a pattern. All the walls within a house can be represented using a solid line but some individuals prefer using solid lines for outer walls and patterned lines for inner walls so as to bring in an aspect of clarity within a plan. Breaks within walls usually indicate the presence of openings such as doors and windows

· Doors –

In floor plans, doors are represented by 2 thin parallel lines that have a substantially lesser thickness when compared to the lines used for walls. The 2 parallel lines are usually closed off at both ends to form a long thin rectangle. As a norm, an arc is used to indicate the swing direction of the doors as well as which side of the wall opening the door will be attached. For sliding doors, a narrow line with an arrow is used. The arrow usually points inwards and indicates the direction the door moves when opened

Floor Plan

· Windows –

Windows are usually indicated by brakes in the wall crossed by thin lines. If a window opens outwards like a door, the arc it travels in will also be indicated on the floor plan. However, most floor plans have a callout feature on the diagram giving specific details as to the type of window being used: this is due to the fact that there are a large number of window designs and as such, giving specifics via schematics is a challenge

Interpreting stairs schematics and specifications

With the price of land being at an all-time high in Singapore, most individuals prefer setting up storied buildings so as to make best use of available space and as you well know, stairs are an integral part of every storied building. So how do you go about interpreting the stairs schematic on a floor plan? Well, for starters, stairs are usually indicated by a series of lines with an arrow indicating the direction of the stairs: if they are going up or down. For subsequent floors; let’s say second floor, the stairs are usually indicated with a dotted line. Details such as the number of risers, specific size, clearance and even handrails are considered as being very important when it comes to stairs and as such, the floor plan might feature a callout for more detailed information on the stair plan

Fittings and fixtures

Fittings and fixtures are other very important features that as a norm are incorporated within most floor plans. Fittings and fixtures usually include items such as kitchen sinks, bathtubs, bidets, kitchen cabinetry and even hot water units. Fittings and fixtures usually give a general outline on how these items should be installed in a room. As a norm, standard symbols that can be easily interpreted are commonly used. For instance in the case of a kitchen sink, a miniature kitchen sink is used. Where possible, the items are drawn to scale but in most instances, the items are usually of scale. When dotted lines are used to depict a fitting or fixture, this usually means the item is fixed overhead: for instance a dotted kitchen cabinet means the cabinet is mounted overhead

Floor Plan


Finishes also feature prominently in most floor plans. By outlining the finishing for different areas of a building, a designer is able to give one the general feel or ambience of a particular room. Finishes on a floor plan are most commonly depicted on the flooring used and as a norm; the kind of floor finish being used is usually indicated on the individual floors within a floor plan

Open to below

This is another term that can be quite confusing when interpreting a floor plan. Most of the modern home designs have an entryway with an extra high ceiling. The extra high ceiling in most instances extends all the way to the roof and while a building might have a first floor, the extra high ceiling space passes right through the first floor. Such a floor plan usually has a note to indicate that the space marked does not have a floor; it is `open to below’


Furniture is also included as part of a floor plan so as to give an individual tips on how a room can be furnished while also enabling an individual to evaluate a plan based on a mental image. Schematics used for furniture are usually named and as such, can be easily interpreted


Scale is also very important when it comes to floor plans. The scale used for a plan is usually indicated but as a norm, the actual length is usually depicted on the plan in terms of feet

By making use of the above tips on how to read a floor plan, you are assured of successfully interpreting and understanding any floor plan


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