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A Guide for the New Home Owner

House Plans tend to be written in a language all their own. The language is aimed at the builder who usually will build the house. Communications between the designer and the homeowner can be hard to understand if someone is not familiar with the terms of the trade. But don't panic! PlanHouse has developed a glossary of terms and a list of abbreviations along with the symbols that are frequently used throughout our home plans. This list will help you read and understand your home plan and help you visualize the finished product. At PlanHouse we find that the better you, the homeowner, understands the plan the greater the chance that we can design the home you want.


Blueprints - A set of blueprints, usually 24"x36" per sheet, is a set of bound drawings provided for the contractor which contain specific ideas dealing with the construction of the home. In most cases, it takes a minimum of five sets to start the building procedure.

Floor Plan - Drawn on a ¼"=1'-0" scale, this is a drawing that details the locations of the cabinets, walls, fireplaces and the electrical and plumbing areas. It also gives the sizes of the doors and windows. If there is a second story, the floor plan outlining the upstairs might be located on a separate sheet.

Scale - The drawings that make sup the house plans are not drawn to the actual size of what they are addressing, but rather to a scaled down version. Usually the scales are ⅛", ¼", ½", ¾" or 1 ½". There will be a note reflecting what scale you are working with, for example, ¼"=1'-0". In other words, for every ¼" measurement on the drawing there is a 1'-0" on the actual building's measurement. There are architectural scales available in area supply stores that may help you even more.

Foundation - It is important to start with a good foundation. Our foundation plans are drawn on a ¼"=1'0" scale and provide a concrete slab and crawl space. Basement plans can be provided for an additional cost. These are stock plans, and they do not address different soil conditions. Be sure to verify details with your contractor so that they meet your standards. Some changes, such as adding a fireplace, bay window, load bearing wall, etc., may affect the foundation.

Exterior Building Elevation - A drawing of the left, right, front and rear view of the outside of the home that shows the locations of the doors, windows and the pitch of the roof. There are also notes addressing the exterior wall applications.

Interior Elevation - Shows a standing view of the interior walls along with their special built-ins, such as book s helves, cabinets in the kitchen, etc.

Section Thru House- If you took a block and cut it in half- you would see thru some part of it. This can also apply to a house plan. Some plans show only one section while others show more as needed to describe special situations, such as vaulted ceilings or a relationship between the lower an upper levels.

Details - These are special construction conditions, such as foundation footings, fireplaces, cuts through cabinets, cornice, cross roof, beams, etc. They can be grouped together or spread throughout the plan.

Specifications - (Referred to as "Description of Materials"). All products in the plan must be specified by name, grade or cost allowance. These guidelines are used throughout every phase of construction and are concerned with quality rather than quantity.

HVAC - A heating and air conditioning layout is provided showing a sized duct from the main unit into each room. Also included are calculations showing the size of the unit to be installed.

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