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The main purpose of construction drawings (also called plans, blueprints, or working drawings) is to show what is to be built, while the specifications focus on the materials, installation techniques, and quality standards.
A complete set of house plans usually contains floor plans, elevations, sections and “details” that together form a detailed picture of the entire house. Exterior elevations:These are the sides of the building viewed looking straight at them (see below). Floor plans:These are views looking straight down at the floor, showing precisely dimensioned rooms, closets, kitchens and baths, and the locations of doors, windows, stairs, and other interior elements (at left). Wall sections cut through the building, showing foundation, framing, and insulation details. Sections: These drawings show what you would see if you cut a slice through the building, revealing the inside of walls, floors, foundations, and other elements. Details: These are drawings of specific elements where the designer wants to provide more detailed information than can be seen in the larger drawings of the entire house. Professionally prepared construction drawings should be in compliance with local codes, but it’s no guarantee. However, the distinction is not clear cut. Most designers put basic construction information in the drawings and use the specs to elaborate on materials, techniques, and standards to be met.
Over many years, a set of standard architectural symbols has developed for construction drawings so that anyone familiar with the building trades can understand their meaning. There is often a separate page for each major trade, including a site plan, floor plans, foundation plan, electrical plan, plumbing plan, and framing plan.
These can be a little deceptive, since everything appears as a single, flat plane, with no clues as to depth. Getting a building permit based on the drawings and specs is also not a guarantee of code compliance.
Others pack their drawings with written notes that cover a many of the issues commonly contained in the specs. In some cases, you’ll find the same information in both places. Different designers and draftsperson have small variations in their style of drawing, but usually their meaning is clear to anyone familiar with construction drawings. So, for example, a sloped roof viewed from the side looks like a flat vertical rectangle – not what you would actually see in a 3D world.
Sections are especially useful for carpenters trying to see how the framing and other elements fit together (at left). Details are often section drawings of the foundation, exterior walls, windows, stairs, framing, or other construction elements.
Everybody can anatomy angstrom unit gravy boat stunned of plywood, peculiarly when you receive DIY plans with you. If there is a conflict between the specs and drawing, the specs generally override the plans, at least legally. When an designer or tradesman looks at a set of drawings, every little line, arrow, squiggle, and symbol has significance. Where section drawings are cut through is usually indicated on the floor plans with an arrow and letter label matching the elevation drawing (at left). Periodic inspections during construction also help ensure that the building complies with code. Together they provide a detailed guide to how the building goes together and what it will look like. A special architectural scale ruler (photo below) makes it very easy to read dimensions on construction drawings – or to create your own scale drawings.
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