In any conversation about homes, there is almost always some discussion on floor plans. You’ll probably hear comments about the “flow” of the floor plan or about an “open” floor plan. When it all settles down, though, what exactly is all that conversation about, and what does it mean for those who are buying, building, or renovating homes? This guide should help you understand more about the floor plan’s role in a home.
The term “floor plan” can really refer to two different things. The first is the actual physical layout of a building, while the other is a representation of that layout put on paper or on a computer. That is the meaning that we’ll work with here because it’s really the reason for the other definition of a floor plan.
In that context, the floor plan is simply that representation we mentioned. It is an overhead view of the layout of the building, showing the location of all the walls, staircases, and major structural features. The floor plan also shows the location of rooms as well as the placement of windows, doors, and other features, depending on how much detail has been included.
Floor plans are drawn to scale, meaning a space that is, for example, twice as long as it is wide on paper will have that same dimension in the real building. This makes it possible to do a mock-up of a building. Simply find a flat, open space like a parking lot, then use the dimensions shown on the floor plan to create a simulation of the actual home. This can really help you get a feel for the sizes of the rooms.
For this part, we’ll look at the hands-on reality of a floor plan. As a two-dimensional drawing, floor plans do not always provide the level of detail needed to understand what the home will be like. That’s why many floor plans include drawings known as elevations, which show what the exterior will look like based on how the interior is laid out. If the home doesn’t have the appearance you would like, you’ll be able to travel back through the floor plans and make changes.
The floor plan also affects what it will be like to live in the home. For example, you may look at a floor plan and realize that the baby’s nursery needs to be closer to the master bedroom, or that the laundry is in a very inconvenient place. These adjustments can be made on paper or with software, without the hassle and expense of making changes to the real house during construction or renovation.
The layout of your home has a role in everything from fire safety to utility consumption, so the ability to think it over before any work is done is a great opportunity to make your home perfect for your family.
Making changes to your floor plan will require good information from the very first step, and probably the most important information is why you want to make a change.
A very popular topic these days is open floor plans. Homeowners love the easy entertaining, shared light, and reduced sense of crowding that is found in an open floor plan. You can use your existing floor plans to examine the home’s construction and determine which walls are load-bearing, which must be left in place, and which ones are simply partition walls, which can be removed if desired.
With the non-negotiable part of the equation nailed down, you can begin to explore and experiment. If your plans are on the computer, you can shuffle and shape things quickly with a few clicks of the mouse to create a starting point. If you’re working with paper plans or old blueprints, you might consider tracing them onto graph paper or making several copies, then sketching out several different versions of your vision to consider and then present to contractors.
The most important thing to remember about floor plans is their role in previewing the function and form of a home, whether it’s new construction or renovation. These diagrams can be as simple or as complex as the situation requires, but regardless of the level of detail, they will give you a good idea of what to expect in the real world of living in a home.
Written by Taylor McKnight, Author for Community FSBO