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How to Read House Plans Blueprints and Construction Drawings.  How to Read House Plans Blueprints

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Once you receive your new house plans, you’ll probably be a little confused as to how these 24” x 36” pages will contain all the information to build a home. Essentially, blueprints are a map of the home building process including drawings, symbol legends and elevations. Just like with a map, once you understand how to read a set of blueprints, you will see how a home comes together in those few pages.

Blueprints, or construction drawings, are the sets of detailed architectural drawings used by a homebuilder and contractors to construct a house. These blueprints, along with the specifications outline provided with your house plans package, are typically included as part of the contract documents between the homeowner and the builder to build the house plans. These documents specify dimensions, materials, locations, construction, finishes, etc. that are to be followed to construct the house plan.

Originally, architectural drawings were reproduced by a technique that resulted in pages with white lines on blue paper, hence the name “blueprints." Technology has advanced and most drawings are done on a computer CAD system and printed out as black lines on white paper. The term “blueprints” is still used by some to describe a set of construction drawings.

Each set of Don Gardner blueprints will contain a Cover Sheet with the front rendering, a Foundation plan, Detailed Floor Plans, Interior Elevations/Roof Plans, Exterior Elevations (the left and right side, as well as the rear), Cross-Sections and Wall Section Details, and Structural Plans. For information about each page of our blueprints, check out What’s in a house plans set?. Before purchasing a house plan, find out more about our house plans Packages.


Each set of blueprints contains an artist’s rendering of the front exterior of the house showing you approximately how the house will look when built and landscaped. The left and right side elevations and rear elevation are also included in the blueprints. These elevations are used to give the builder scale measurements of the home. On Donald A. Gardner Architects’ blueprints, scale measurements are located at the bottom of the page. Typically the blueprint of the front elevation is drawn to the scale of ¼”=1’-0”and the other three sides are drawn to the scale of 1/8”=1’-0.



Most Don Gardner house plans come with a crawlspace foundation. Other popular foundations include basements and slabs. For special lots, you can also find walkout basement plans for sloping lots or post & pier plans for coastal areas.

The foundation blueprint is typically drawn to the scale of ¼”= 1-0”. This page of the set of blueprints gives the foundation layout. This includes footing locations, support walls, piers, excavated and unexcavated areas, if necessary, foundation notes and details. If you have chosen a basement plan it may also show room layouts and steel column locations for the lower level of the house plan.

With Donald A. Gardner blueprints, the first floor framing is also included with the foundation plan. The framing provides the basic shape of the home and defines where walls, floors and the roof will be.


Detailed floor plans show the layout of each floor of the house plan. These floor plans are typically drawn to the scale of ¼”=1’-0”. Rooms and interior spaces are carefully dimensioned and symbol legends are provided for the cross-section details provided later in the plans. Doors and windows are marked and keyed to a door and window schedule that indicates the size, type and quantity. Also shown are the locations of kitchen appliances, plumbing fixtures, and suggestions for the location of electrical devices such as fixtures, switches and outlets. These plans also contain a symbol legend that identifies electrical devices.

At the time of creation, each Donald A. Gardner plan is designed to conform to CABO One and Two Family Dwelling Code or the International Residential Code. Because Donald A. Gardner house plans and blueprints are sold nationwide, modifications may be necessary to meet local building codes. Consult a builder, architect, or other construction professional as necessary. Heating and air conditioning layouts are not included in these house plans. Consult a local mechanical contractor for systems suitable for local climate conditions.


A homebuilder or contractor needs more information than the overhead view of the floor plan to define sections of a wall, etc. With a cross-section of a home, the drawing shows what the home would look like if cut through at a particular point. Important changes in floor, ceiling and roof heights or the relationship of one level to another are called out in cross-sections or wall sections of the floor plan and are typically drawn to the scale of 3/4”=1’-0”. These sections specify the home’s construction, insulation, flooring and roofing details.


The interior elevation drawings show a suggested layout design of base and overhead cabinets in the: kitchen, utility room, beside fireplaces, bookcases, built-in units or other special interior features depending on the nature and complexity of the item. These elevations are typically drawn to the scale of ¼”=1’-0”.


These plans contain the overall layout and necessary details for the ceiling, second-floor framing (if applicable) and roof construction and are typically drawn to the scale of ¼”=1’-0”. The framing can be “stick built” (using nominal lumber) or trussed. If trusses are used, it is suggested that a local truss manufacturer be used to design your trusses to comply with your local codes and regulations. This is usually the final page in a set of Don Gardner blueprints.

For more information about reading blueprints, talk to a building professional or architect or call 1.800.388.7580 to speak with a Donald A. Gardner representative about our plans. If you’re ready to start the search for your dream house plan, check out our Advanced House Plan Search!

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Thank you for allowing us to be part of your house plan purchasing experience. We appreciate your business and want to take this opportunity to explain important information about our copyright. By providing you with these facts, we hope to clarify any confusion and exclude you from legal concerns. House Plans are COPYRIGHTED! Donald A. Gardner Architects, Inc. and/or Donald A. Gardner, Inc. designed -- and hold the copyrights to -- the pre-designed Floor Plans on this web site. With bond (paper) set purchases, the purchaser is granted a one-time license to build the home. Just like books, movies, and songs, federal copyright laws protect the intellectual property of architects and home designers by giving copyright protection to house plans and home designs. The copyright laws prevent anyone from reproducing or reusing the house plans or home designs without written permission from the copyright owner. Who is responsible for copyright infringement? Any party who participates in the violation may be responsible whether you were aware of the house plan copyright or not. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. Refuse to be part of any illicit copying or use of house plans, floor plans, home designs, derivative works, blueprints, or home design features by being certain of the original design source.