Home Building 101: Reading A Floor Plan

A floor plan is a two-dimensional blueprint of a home’s interior layout and is an extremely important part of the home building process. Floor plans are usually drawn to scale and include visual information about the walls, windows, doors, room dimensions and other built-in fixtures of a home. Whilst the first look at a floor plan may seem overwhelming, the process of reading a floor plan is not as perplexing as it may first appear. Here are our tips on how to read a floor plan to help you better understand and visualise your future home’s layout.

reading a floor plan

What’s included on a floor plan?

Upon initial viewing, reading a floor plan may seem overwhelming due to the sheer number of elements included in this drawing. No stress, we have broken down these elements for you:

– Floors: Different floor surfaces or coverings are typically indicated using different shadings or colourings accompanied by a legend.

– Walls: On a floor plan, walls are typically represented as filled, patterned or dark solid lines, depending on whether the walls are on the house’s interior or exterior. The placement and relative size of the walls determine the size and shape of the house and its individual rooms.

– Windows: When reading floor plans, these are often identified as breaks in the walls. However, as window designs, sizes and opening options vary, the floor plan may include separate diagrams on the specifications of each window.

reading a floor plan

– Doors: Traditional doors with hinges are typically drawn as breaks in the wall with a quarter semi-circle dotted line. The flow of this line indicates whether the door in question swings outside or inside a room and from which side the door is hinged. Sliding doors can be drawn by either depicting the individual panels or by simply using a narrow line with an arrow attached to an end. 

– Stairs: Typically quite easy to recognise when reading floor plans. Generally feature arrows that indicate whether the stairs are going up or down.

– Additional fittings and fixtures: In houses where the bathroom and kitchen fixtures are built-in, these details may also be sketched onto a floor plan. If so, they are usually labelled accordingly. These fixtures include kitchen cabinets, ovens, sinks, dishwashers, toilets, bathtubs and showers.

Most floor plans will also indicate the orientation of the house. When reading a floor plan, take note of these orientations as they will influence the lighting and energy needs of different areas of a house. Some floor plans also include electrical plans, which can further complicate the process of reading floor plans. These electrical plans indicate where lights, switches and power outlets are located within a home and can assist with the interior design decisions of individual rooms and spaces.

reading a floor plan

Evaluating a floor plan

After reading a floor plan, the ideal next step would be to see the proposed property in person. However, this is not always possible and therefore, a detailed floor plan may be all you have. Once you have read and interpreted a floor plan, try to imagine living within this floor plan. Think about how everyday occurrences, such as navigating from the bedroom to the kitchen in the morning, might be experienced. It is also wise to consider how the layout and accessibility of the interior may be perceived by children, pets or the elderly. Once you understand how to read floor plans, the process of perceiving and visualising the nuances of a house’s interior should be simplified.

Looking for more inspiration? Our iBuildNew Blog has got you covered.

Our team is available to guide you through your home buying journey and answer any questions you may have. Give us a call on 1800 184 284 or book a call online.

Grace Wang

Grace is a recent graduate of Monash University, where she studied Arts and Science. She is a property, architecture and interior design enthusiast.


iBuildNew is the market leading aggregator dedicated to residential home construction and land development. As an independent platform, iBuildNew helps Australians identify and compare new home designs, house and land packages and land estates. It’s the smart way home buyers, who are considering a new build, can find the ideal options to match their individual needs. Home building is a big decision, we make sure you get it right.

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