When it’s time to build, remodel, or add on to your home, you may review floor plans for several different styles. Knowing how to properly read floor plans will help you choose the right design for you needs whether it might be just a need for more space, or even adding a mother in law suite or granny flat to help care for an aging loved one.

If you look at floor plans and feel overwhelmed, you don’t have to feel alone. They are confusing for many people, but reading them is easier than you think.In this article we will take a look at the basics of how to read floor plans so read on to see how simple it really is.

Understanding Floor Plan Symbols

There are several symbols on a floor plan, and understanding what they are will help you read the plan. Before you start looking at the different floor plans, use this basic guide to understand the symbols.

How To Read Floor Plans

  •  A north arrow shows which side of the house will face north
  •  Thick solid lines indicate walls
  •  Two parallel lines set close together indicate a partial wall that does not go to the ceiling
  •  A narrow line extending from a wall with an arch connecting it to the wall indicates a door and shows the direction of the door swing.
  •  A thin line interrupting a thick solid line shows window placement.
  •  Two thin overlapping lines set inside a wall show a sliding door
  •  A circle with a rectangle behind it is a toilet
  •  A long rectangle with a rounded end shows a bathtub. A smaller symbol inside the bug shows the placement of the faucet.
  •  An “X” situated inside a square is a standing shower stall.
  •  Circles in the bathroom indicate sinks
  •  In the kitchen, a rectangle with two smaller rectangles inside it is the sink.
  •  The range is denoted by a rectangle with four smaller circles inside it.
  •  Refrigerator placement is shown with a plain rectangle.
  •  Washers and dryers are symbolized by two rectangles with thin lines along one side. The washer will have an additional rectangle inside it to indicate the lid.
  •  Closets with bifold doors are indicated by a break in the wall and two inverted “V” symbols to indicate which way the doors open.
  • Some plans also show symbols on the exterior of the home. Trees are shown by a large symbol resembling a kaleidoscope while shrubs are shown by a mark resembling the sun.

Locate the Front Door

Typically marked with the words “Entry” or “Foyer”, finding the front door first will help you orient the floor plan. The door may swing towards the interior or exterior of the home. The direction of the door swing will be marked on the plan either by an open door or a cracked door with an arch showing the direction of the swing.

Take a Walk Around the Floor Plan

Learn To Read Floor PlansAfter locating the front door, take a mental walk through the home. Walls are denoted by solid lines, so follow the plan and imagine yourself walking through the home. Look at the open traffic flow around fixtures like commodes and kitchen appliances. View the connection points between living areas like the dining room, kitchen and living room.

Consider the Room Dimensions

Every room on the floor plan will have the dimensions marked below the room description. The width is usually listed first and then the height. If the room sizes are not listed directly on the floor plan itself, look for a Plan Detail Page under sometimes under a tab marked “More Plan Information” to find the room size.

Storage Matters

While a 12-foot by 12-foot bedroom may seem large enough for your child, you also need to consider the amount of closet space in the room. Closets are marked on the floor plan. They may be marked by the phases “Storage,” or “Closet.” Alternatively, they may have a line denoting the location of clothes rods along with perpendicular lines showing where hangars would be placed.

Looking at Windows

You want the home to be bright and airy, so windows are important to let the sun in. A single window on one wall can leave the room feeling cramped and create a glare. Two windows on one wall, adjacent walls or even opposite walls help balance the room, open the space and eliminate glare.

Considerations for Everyday Living

As you mentally walk through the floor plan, ask yourself how well the traffic pattern flows. Is there enough space for your furnishings? Consider what route you will use to bring groceries into the house. Is the garage close to the kitchen without tight turns and small areas blocking your walkway? Is there a coat closet or a mudroom where you can hang coats in cool weather? These seemingly small features will become extremely important after you move in.

Special Needs, Mother In-Law Suites, and Universal Design

If you are look at floor plans to meet some specific needs, try making a list of all the things your loved one who will be staying in the new space might need both now and in the future. Try to find specialized floor plans such as mother in law suite floor plans whose design is specifically tailored to meet the needs of someone who is elderly or who needs special care.


[margin30]Mother In law Suite Floor Plan Collections

Download the ILS Mother In-Law Suite Floor Plan Collection

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  • 10 Mother In-Law Suite Floor Plans
  • 10 Different Sizes
  • 10 Unique Layouts
  • Printable PDF Format

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Looking at floor plans and imagining your new remodeling, addition or new construction project can be exciting. There are many different home styles to consider, and knowing how to read floor plans will help you find the right design to fit your families needs now and in the future. Take an imaginary walk through the floor plan to see how well the home will suit your family and your changing needs.