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How To Read A New Home Floor Plan

April 5, 2018

Receiving your new home’s floor plan is a pretty momentous occasion. Your new space is finally moving from dream to reality, and your plan marks the first concrete step on that journey. Reviewing your plan can also give you some important information about what it will be like to live in your new home. Although they may seem like a collection of abstract shapes now, those plans will one day turn into a real wood-and-stone home. Taking the time to really pore over your floor plan will allow you to make changes while everything’s still theoretical. Of course, that means you need to know how to make sense of it first. Here’s how it all works.

Your Plan Set
Your Paradisa Homes floor plan is actually part of a larger document, known as a plan set. Inside your plan set you’ll find some general architectural notes about your space, as well as a site plan, which shows the plans for the entire property, including a survey image of your home. You’ll also find a few other plans in the document—your visitability, elevation, foundation, wall bracing, and roof framing plans. All of these help your construction team understand various elements of your home. Somewhere in the middle of the set, you’ll find the floor plans for every floor of your new home, which will give you the clearest sense of your new home’s layout.

Floor plans can offer a wealth of information from a birds eye view to help homeowner’s envision the arrangement of space and practical use in every day life. In this image, the flow of space from the front to back entry and open floor plan are revealed. Elements such as placement of primary plumbing fixtures and door inswing markings are clearly noted, further helping to understand the functionality of rooms and access. Detail from the floor plan of the home at 1601 Bauerle Ave., Austin, TX 78704 .

Your Floor Plan
All plans in your set are important, but the ones that you probably want to look over the most carefully are your home’s floor plans. Your floor plan is chock full of information about what your new home will look like and how it will feel to live between those walls. In addition to the layout of the rooms, floor plans show you where windows, doors, stairways, and many other architectural elements will exist in the space. It should also give you some sense of the spatial relationships between different features—for instance, how much space your kitchen pantry takes up, or where your hallway closets are located. Rooms are labeled to give you some sense of orientation. The floor plan also tells you which floor you’re looking at so you can examine each level of your home. Here’s what to expect to see when you review your plan.


  • Walls. At its most basic level, a floor plan shows your home’s walls, room dimensions, and the division of rooms and spaces. Walls are indicated with solid double lines around each individual space. The space in between those parallel lines may be filled or left blank.
  • Doors and Windows. One of the key elements described on a floor plan is the location of doors and windows in new homes. Doors with an inswing are shown as an arc. The direction of that arc indicates how the door will swing open once installed—pretty useful to know. French doors are illustrated with a double arc. Sliding doors are shown as two dark overlapping lines. Garage doors appear as a lighter-colored indented line. Windows are drawn as breaks in the wall.
    Something to pay careful attention to is the placement of doors in relationship to windows. This can affect the circulation in the space as well as your sightline when you’re standing in the room. Make sure your view won’t be interrupted when the door is opened.
  • Stairways. Stairs can take up a significant amount of space in new homes, so understanding their placement is crucial. On your new home’s floor plan, you’ll see stairways as sets of wide parallel lines with an arrow indicating the upper and lower levels.
    Reviewing the positioning of stairs certainly gives you some sense of how it will feel to live in your new home. However, keep in mind that your architect may not have much leeway to change their location. Building codes have pretty strict guidelines for the placement and structure of stairs, so you’ll definitely need to get your architect’s feedback on change of location.Plumbing
  • Fixtures and Appliances. You can also use your plan to assess the location of certain plumbing fixtures and kitchen elements. For instance, you can see in the illustration above how sinks, counters, toilets and tubs are all notated with symbols. In the kitchen, you’ll find symbols representative of your stove (illustrated as a square with four circles inside for each burner), and double sinks, drawn as two squares next to one another. You’ll also see a square box drawn with a dotted line. This is where your dishwasher will be.

Envision Yourself in the Space

It’s easier to make changes now, while your home is still in the abstract, rather than wait until the framing and walls go up. So when you review your new home’s floor plan, you’ll want to picture yourself there.

Imagine walking through the halls, going up those stairs and opening the doors. Envision what it would feel like to make dinner in the kitchen, do laundry in the mudroom, or hang your clothes in the closets. Ask yourself the following questions as you move through the rooms in your mind.

  • Will you have enough space for storage?
  • Are the windows easy to see out of? How much natural light will they allow into your space?
  • Does the space feel private, open, or a mixture of both? Is that to your liking?
  • How is the flow from room to room? Is it comfortable and convenient?
  • Is there enough room in hallways and doorways leading into high-traffic spaces?
  • Are entryways convenient?
  • Are the dimensions of each room large enough? Too large?

Giving yourself a mental tour of the space helps you understand just what you’ll be looking at in a few months. Armed with that information, you’ll be able to easily request adjustments and work with your architect to design the perfect space. After all, no plan is complete without your approval!