Architecture 511

Amer Jamil

+ Schematic Drawings And Plans*

 Schematic drawings

Schematic drawings include basic dimensions of the building, the major architectural elements, and the structural systems. These basic drawings are used as a primary depiction of the project.  They  are not detailed so that major changes can be made quickly and easily before the real detail design begins.

Reading and Understanding Plans

It can be difficult to read blueprints, for many it feels like learning a new language. With all those lines, symbols and abbreviations, blueprints can boggle even the most intuitive among us.

It is important to be able to read plans if you are going to be involved in a development project.  You will need to be able to discuss the plans with the bank, builder, subcontractors and the architect to make sure that your vision is represented in the plans and the final product. A simple understanding of blueprints assures that all the parties involved, envision the end product in the same way.


Architects and designers create and assemble plans differently but a general understanding of the common notations is beneficial.

To get started it is important to orient yourself with the plans. All of the drawings in a set of plans appear in a specific scale, usually one-quarter or one-eighth of an inch. This means that every quarter or eighth of an inch measured on the blueprint translates to one foot in actual size. So, for example, a wall that measures two inches long in quarter-inch scale on the blueprints will be eight feet when built. All drawings are labeled to indicate the scale used.  Make sure to take note of the scale, it can greatly change your interpretation of the building.

Plans have symbols to represent windows, doors, electrical outlets, and how the building should be built.  For example, a solid line with a mark at either end usually denotes a dimension line. This means that the area covered between the two marks equals the length marked above or below that section of line.

To determine the sizes and types of doors and windows specified in the blueprints, check out the floor plans and the window and door schedules. On many floor plans, beside each window and door on the floor plan is a letter or number in a circle, triangle or hexagon. These notations correspond with the window and door schedules, which indicate the sizes and types of doors specified by the designer, and are usually found toward the end of the blueprints.

The basic floor plans will also have symbols that indicate that there is another area in the plans that give a more detailed drawing of that specific section or area in the plans.  In most plans a line with, at one or both ends, a circle containing a number and letter serves as a cross section call-out. A cross section call-out indicates the areas of the design that include cross sectional drawings elsewhere in the blueprints. Cross sections show detailed features, such as ceiling heights, stair formations, and wall, ceiling and roof framing construction. The number in the circle indicates the page where the cross section drawing is located. The letter denotes which sketch to refer to on that page. The arrow on the side of the circle shows the direction of the cross section's view.

These are just some of the basic symbols on a set of floor plans.  It is important to initially orient yourself with your set of plans.  Take note of the scale and refer to the schedules to clarify the  meanings of symbols on the plans. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the plans and what they mean.

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