By Meg Escott
Floor plans for houses, apartments or any building type for that matter describe the layout of a home. Learning how to read a floor plan is a really worthwhile exercise whether you're building a new home, remodeling, looking for a house to buy or trying to figure out how the space works in your home.
Reading and analyzing a floor plan will tell you a lot of information about how a home will function and what it will be like to live in. Floor plans are great for describing the scale and size of the spaces inside the home, how the rooms of the home fit together and the flow between them.
Before we start just a quick word of caution - don’t tie yourself up in knots looking for the perfect floor plan. The main point of reading a floor plan is to work out whether or not the floor plan will work for you and look for ways it can be enhanced to suit your needs. One thing’s for sure – a great floor plan comes by spending some time learning to read and analyze them.
So what is a floor plan? It’s like taking a story of the house and slicing it horizontally about 4ft from the ground and looking down from above. So a set of floor plans would have a floor plan for each story.
Floor plans contain a lot of information. They show walls, doors, windows, stairs and outdoor spaces near to the homes such as porches, balconies and decks. They also show kitchen layout, bathroom layouts and built in furniture. A furniture layout can also be included and is useful for getting a feel for how each space will work.
Some floor plans use colors which can help sometimes to see the different types of spaces but it’s by no means necessary. Some software can also produce floor plans in 3D – a sort of perspective view, which again can help understanding but the true scale of the rooms is lost so a good old flat 2D floor plan will always be necessary.
Some architects use software that can create a 3D walk-through mini-movie of a house to give clients a better feel for a home.
Here's some more pages on floor plan analysis.
The floor plan symbols page may also be helpful.