How to read a floorplan

Behind every great home is robust planning and foundation. Whether it’s an investment property or your forever home, the best return on your investment starts with a concrete plan. A wise homebuyer won’t only look at the exteriors and interiors of a house, but also its overall layout through a floor plan.

What is a floor plan and what is it showing you? 

A floor plan is a two-dimensional visualisation of a house or building from a bird’s eye view. It contains detailed information on how your house should look when it’s done walls, windows, doors, room dimensions, cabinets, and other fixtures. 

Floor plans come in two forms: catalogue and technical. Catalogue floor plans serve marketing and sales purposes — these are ones you often see on websites or brochures. Think of them as the initial or baseline floor plan which you can revise and/or redevelop later on.

Technical floor plans contain more detail in them, and the version that includes all revisions becomes the final floor plan. These will include orientation, scale, and the title block which lays out the project name, builder/designer name, address, project number, scale, date, and revisions. This avoids plagiarism in floor plans and keeps home designs as unique as can be.

The Floor Plan Basics: The Symbols You Should Look for


Walls are drawn as parallel lines that set the partitions in the house. Walls divide and determine the size and shape of the rooms in the house. Breaks in these parallel lines indicate an opening which signifies either a door or a window. Outdoor walls of the house are often drawn with thicker black lines to make a distinction in width. These can be represented by parallel or patterned lines. 


Image: The Acreage Colorado Floor Plan

Keep in mind that all windows sizes, room dimensions, door sizes, and window configurations will be shown in the final drawings with your builder.

Internal Doors

These are often seen as a break in the wall denoted by a perpendicular straight line and an arc that shows the direction the door opens into. Some floor plans may or may not have an arc. 


Image: The Verona - A Double-Storey Home

Sliding doors, stackers, or bi-folds would be denoted by double broken parallel lines typically used in alfresco areas.plantation-homes-door-floorplan

Image: The Verona - A Double-Storey Home


Like doors, windows are also shown as breaks in the wall typically connected by three or more parallel lines depending on the casement. 


Stairs are usually represented by consecutive parallel lines with arrows that go up or down. They take up a significant amount of floor space and affect headspace. It’s great to keep in mind that Australia has regulations when designing staircases that need to be complied with. According to the AS1657, all Australian staircases should have at least one handrail and a handrail on each side for stairways wider than 1000mm. how-to-read-a-floorplan

IMAGE: The Mirage


Floors are often drawn to show texture with shading or light-coloured lines to indicate the type of flooring finish to be used. In the image below, the toilet and bath floors are shaded in grey to illustrate wet areas. 


Furniture, fittings, and fixtures 

These are typically straightforward illustrations of furniture, cabinets, ovens, stoves, sinks, showerheads, and the like. Having these in place gives you a size estimate — an idea as to how much bigger or smaller your appliances are relative to the space allotted to them. You’d want to make sure the fridge you’ve always wanted fits into the cavity!

How do you find the right floor plan for you? 

Try to imagine living your life through the floor plan. Walk around the house, go through the rooms, ask yourself questions. Is it something that suits your needs? Is it spacious enough? Are there too many doors or windows? Will it be too hot inside the house? 

If that’s not the case, it can open up a discussion with your builder about revisions — most of them will accommodate your requests while others might already have the options to upgrade certain floor plans. Being open with them in the process helps build your home exactly the way you want it.