Understanding Blueprints

Blueprints are much more detailed drawings than simple Floor Plans. Blueprints are exact detailed scaled drawings of plans of a home, building, or structure which include many more details than a basic floor plan.

Your blueprint plans and specifications are the documents used by your builder and contractors to instruct them on how to build your new home. Each set of blueprints should include floor plans; plans for the foundation and information on footings and framing; front, side and rear elevations; roof plan; electrical layout and kitchen cabinet layout; and construction details.

Each set of blueprints include detailed documentation which fully describe the quality and specifications of the materials needed to complete the building of your home. You can use your detailed blueprints to get precise estimates of the total cost to build your home.

Blueprints are used to provide the builder with a complete set of two-dimensional instructions on exactly how to construct the home. The most common sizes of blueprints for the construction of a new home are  18″ x 24″ or 24″ x 36″

Before the advent of computers, blueprints were drawn by hand on vellum (a semi-transparent film which was specially processed and treated with ammonia), however, with the advances in computer software the process of designing a floor plan have greatly improved and floor plans have now become easier to create and duplicate. Now complete floor plans can be stored and printed just as easy as printing this document from your computer.

We offer a wide selection of comprehensive and detailed blueprints in a wide assortment of house styles, home plans and designs to fit any life style whether you are looking to remodel or build a new home.

How to read blueprints


Blueprint floor plans are typically drawn to a ¼” scale of the actual size of the home. This way the builder will be able to scale the drawing of the home and come up with the correct measurement. As a general accepted rule a ¼” scale means that for every ¼” on the plan will account for 1′ of actual length. Some details, like framing layouts or built-in details may be drawn at a scale of 1/8″ or even ¾”.

Any builder will know to look at the key provided on the house plan to determine the scale of the home. Since the blueprints are drawn to scale if any portion needs to be changed or the contractor can scale the drawing to determine the right measurements to make the adjustments. The scale of each drawing is usually next to the title, however there are times when it is called out beneath the drawing or some other place on the page.


Blueprints also generally include four elevation drawings of a home, the front, the rear and each side. The purposes of these drawings are so that measurements can be taken for any necessary aspect and are drawn to scale and also indicate what the home will look like upon completion. Elevation blueprints also include ridge heights, exterior finishes, roof pitches and other design aspects to give a general idea of the finished home. These exterior specifications can also provide details about the home’s exterior architectural styling.

Basement Floor Plan:

Basement floor plans (if provided) show how foundation and the structural integrity should be built. These plans give further details about the location of footings, load bearing walls, steel rebar concrete reinforcements, and other structural elements the home requires to support the walls and roof.

Electrical layouts:

Electrical diagrams (if provided) can often be difficult to read which is why the drawings of the electrical layout of a home are often on a separate drawing. By keeping the electrical layout on it’s own drawing the electrician can begin wiring the home without reading through the entire building floor plan. Electrical diagrams usually include legend or Key on the page which explains what each symbols represents. From this diagram the electrician can determine the location of electrical outlets, fans, fixtures, light fixtures etc. Electrical diagrams may also include legends for heating systems, door swings and sizes, or even to specify certain finishes.

Framing Drawings:

Like every other drawings, the framing drawings (if provided) are also drawn to scale. Framing plans include the basic skeletal structure of the home. Floor joist locations, walls, and roof trusses are the overall detail of these plans. Generally locations of each stud are not included, due to a recognized universal building code. However, in some cases there are instructions for particular wall construction methods.

Plumbing and mechanical systems:

Since stock house plan blueprints are sold throughout the 50 states, regional preferences and climatic variances dictate different mechanical systems and, as such, this information must be obtained locally. Typically only plumbing fixture locations are provided, but this information is ample for the contractor to install a plumbing system. However you may want to have the heating subcontractor provide a duct and register layout for your review prior to construction. Your local utility company also may offer various services to you in sizing a system for your new home.

Cross sections and details:

Overhead views or floor plan views of the structure provide detailed information about wall lengths and room dimensions to do not fully provide enough information for successful construction of the home. Therefore in most cases, a cross section of the home is included in a set of house plans. A cross section of a home is drawing of the completed home as if it were sliced in half. This part of a home plan provides the builder with an even better understanding the relativity of floor heights, rafter lengths among other structural elements of the home.

Plot Plan:

A plot plans are comprehensive drawings of the site location or lot on which a new home is to be built. Plot Plans are drawn to determine the placement of the home on the chosen building lot in reference to the property boundaries, topography and house layout. Plot dimensions are normally recorded by a surveyor, and are used to determine the exact location and positioning of the selected home in relationship to the chosen lot. Plot plans will typically include the location of utility services, set back requirements, easements; locations drive ways and walk ways. In some cases a topographical map may be included that will supply the architect or builder with critical data on the slope and terrain of the lot he or she is design a home for.

Since plot plans are prepared based on the exact size and dimensions of the house to be built and how it will fit into a selected lot location they are not normally included in the purchase of stock floor plans, however, plot plans can be drawn by a local professional draftsman, architect or engineer once a lot is chosen.

So, now that you know how to read a Blueprint you need to understand the differences between the different styles! See our information on How to choose the Right House Plan.