How to Read House Floor Plans

Nov 29, 2021 | Custom Home Building, Floor Plans

Designing and building a custom home is incredibly exciting, but it can also be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with certain aspects of the industry, including reading house floor plans. Understanding how to read a house floor plan can go a long way in helping you visualize the end result of your custom home build before it happens. Not only that, but it will help you communicate more effectively with your architecture and construction team. At Lee Builders, we work closely with each client to develop a floor plan that satisfies their every need, helping them understand the key components of their design every step of the way!

What is a House Floor Plan?

A floor plan (sometimes referred to as “blueprints”) used to be delivered to clients in the form of a roll, including all the details required to build a home. Today, however, these same materials are typically handed over to clients in digital format. The plan “set” is the collection of all the pages describing the house, including the site plan, building notes, floor plans for each story of the home, framing and roofing plans, electrical plans, mechanical system plans, and construction details.

By contrast, the “floor plan” is the mapped layout of an individual floor. Put simply, the floor plan is like removing a dollhouse’s roof and looking down on the inside with a bird’s eye view. You may also hear the term “design drawings” during your custom home building journey: This refers to floor plans that contain a modest amount of information and are what most clients receive from their home builders when discussing their build. “Working drawings” or “construction drawing” are much more detailed in nature and are usually provided to other professionals who will be working on the construction of your home.

House Floor Plan Symbols

Each part of your home design is carefully laid out in your floor plan and is delineated using specific symbolism and terminology:

Walls, Windows & Doors

The first thing you’ll notice when looking at your floor plan are the solid, parallel lines. These are used to represent walls, windows, doors, and openings between rooms. In many house floor plans, you may see doors drawn as thin rectangles with an arc to indicate the swing direction. Windows are shown as breaks in walls, crossed by thin lines to illustrate the glass and frame.


If your house plan features multiple stories, you’ll see the stairs illustrated as a series of rectangles. Sometimes, they may even have a directional arrow to show whether the stairs are going up to the next level or down the basement or lower levels of the home.

Furniture, Fixtures, Fittings & Finishes

Most house floor plans will also contain information about where your sinks, toilets, and other home fixtures are located. These fixtures are painstakingly detailed as home builders understand how critical these components can be to the overall feel of your home. A refrigerator placed too closely to a kitchen sink can make the difference between a space that’s comfortable and one that’s awkwardly designed. You should be able to identify these details easily as they are carefully drawn out with the understanding they will be viewed by non-professionals in the space.

Open to Below

Increasingly, homeowners are opting to include cathedral ceilings or “great rooms” in their custom builds. When this is the case, your builder may note this by showing the ceiling height numerically with a dashed line indicated the perimeter of the taller area. From the second floor, you may see a note that reads “open to below”: This is used to illustrate that the space does not have a floor and is instead left open.


In more detailed house floor plans, you may also see specific measurements and dimensions (referred to as “dimension strings”). These are used to locate windows, doors, walls, and other features. In most cases, house floor plans will only include the specific dimensions for individual rooms and the entire length and width of the home.

Lee Builders for Your Custom Home Floor Plan

If you’re looking to create a completely custom home in South Carolina, Lee Builders has the team you need to make your dream home your reality. Our custom home builders take a deeply personalized approach, ensuring every detail of your unique vision is included in the house floor plan for your review. We are committed to delivering an unparalleled custom home experience from floor plan design to final walkthrough. Connect with our team to begin designing your house floor plan today!