How To Read Your Floor Plans And Elevations Like A Pro

Six fire trucks. Belching smoke. Scurrying firemen on the street. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Why, the exit, of course. To make a quick exit you better know how to read your Floor Plan. Well, do ya? Because if you don’t, then prepare to be char-grilled.


So what is a Floor Plan?

Imagine if you were in a helicopter high above the

roof of your house. And then someone sliced off the roof. Horizontally from the top of the walls.

Just the walls are left standing. The maze of walls and corridors that you now see down below is called a floor plan.

You can see inside the bedrooms. The kitchen. The corridors. The furniture. Even the toilets. Everything. Nothing’s hidden.

It’s like the eye of God looking down on to a roofless house. Comprende? Ok, but where are all the windows you ask?

Don’t panic just yet. They’re all there, just can’t see much of these on the floor plan.

This is where our friend the ‘Elevations’ come in

Just like the floor plans were a top view, the elevations are a side view. Now imagine standing on the road and looking dead straight towards your house.

Whaddya see? Yes, the shape of zee house.

The height

The windows

The entry

But, you won’t see any other sides of the house

So for clarity, the views are broken up into four. One for each side of the house. But, no doubt it would get very confusing calling it the ‘left’ side or the ‘right’ side. (it really depends on where you’re standing).

Too confusing for my little brain! Therefore, a universally accepted reference system of the good ol’ compass was adopted.

Most houses are four sided, so this worked out great with east, west, north and south elevations as each ‘view’ of the house.

What if there are more sides to a home? No problem. Additional views, northeast, southwest, etc are added as appropriate. Easy eh?

You don’t have to be Christopher Columbus

A compass with directional arrows will usually be on the floor plan so you can see where true north is. From there, you can establish your bearings on site (or paper). If this is proving difficult, then you may need to re-visit your Boy Scouts or Girl Guides notes?

Ok, so let’s refresh our views

  1. Floor plans are a bird’s eye view into your home. It’s used to see the sizes of rooms, internal layout, and flow
  1. Elevations are labelled east, west, north, and south referenced from true north depicted on the plan. This shows you the heights, windows, roofs, and a general street level view.

So now that you know all this jazz, see if you can ‘walk through’ the plans to locate your bearings.

Enter your house from the front door. Is there a window in the study? Check on the elevation view.

And before you know it, you’ll be sailing through the whole house…like Christopher Columbus.



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