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How To Read Architectural Plans: If You're About To Start Building Your Dream Home - Part 1

By Steve Fitzpatrick

The good news is that most people find it a challenge to visualise what their home will look like so you're not alone. Generally house designs are presented in two dimensions so the front of the home looks flat. It often won't have shadow lines or any sense of depth. Luckily most home designers are now making use of 3D software which can make it easier to assess the front elevation of the home. But what about the floor plans?

It may be the first time you're looking at architectural drawings and you might not have great spatial skills as you may have never really needed to develop them. Spatial skills allow you to be aware of space, within a room or area which is a skill that is typically highly developed by new home designers and architects. These skills will help your understand the size of rooms.

I'll give you the same advice I give to everyone I meet that is going to build their new home; take your time and follow these simple steps which will assist in visualising how a plan will translate into your dream home.

Step 1

The first thing you should do is just walk through the home visually as if you were visiting someone. Start at the front portico area and see yourself walking into the entry area. Then follow the path you would normally take to walk through each room. Imagine opening each door as you enter the room. Think about the way the doors swing and then imagine you're standing in the doorway looking into the room. Picture in your minds eye the furniture that will be featured in the room. Where is the lounge, the coffee table, the dresser and corner tables. What paintings are on the walls. When you're standing at the doorway you're now able to look out the window - what do you see?

Allow your mind's eye to picture a room you're already familiar with and things will start to fall into place. Keep walking around the plans and stand in different areas looking in opposite directions, so you get a complete understanding of the home from all angles.

This simple walk through will start to highlight some areas you can consider changing or raise some questions you never thought of before. It's common for clients to have an 'aha!' moment, like realising there is nowhere to hang their favourite piece of art or wondering where their bathroom towel rail will be, or thinking about the suns effect on their favourite lounge and if it will fade.

If you have any doubts, you should speak with your custom home designer and they will assist you in making necessary changes to ensure your home meets your requirements.

How To Read Architectural Plans: If You're About To Start Building Your Dream Home - Part 2

Reading architectural plans takes a degree of patients and skill that is only learnt by practise. For most of us in the building industry it's now second nature, and in fact can work against us when we're talking about home designs with clients because we forget some of the basics that helped us first understand how to read plans. This next practical step will take less than a few minutes and will help make visualising your space much easier.

Cardboard Cutouts

Ok so you've now been trying to visualise how your home plan will be in your mind's eye. It's time to make sure you're happy with the floor plan by taking an even more practical approach.

To see how big a room is and how you can furnish the room, take out a tape measure and measure a few pieces of furniture. Quite often a bedroom is easily done in your mind's eye so you may want to start in the main living area. This is a good idea usually as the areas are combined and you want to also consider traffic zones like hallways through an open plan living space.

Now that you've measured your lounge suite, dining table and chairs, coffee table and TV cabinet, make a scaled cut out of the shapes. Your plans are probably going to be 1:100 ratio so just using a normal ruler and cutting a 2cm wide lounge will translate to a 2.0m space on the plans. Once you've got your cut outs place them on the drawing and see how you will furnish your home.

I know if more people actually did this then there would be far less homes with angled walls selling. I don't know how many times I've seen builders displaying homes with angles and the furnishings are terrible, still people buy them!

Your cut outs should help you understand how everything will go into your house, and it probably only took you 15 minutes to get this right. Now you can probably visualise more clearly how your home will look and feel by the time it is built.

If you have any doubts, you should speak with your custom home designer and they will assist you in making necessary changes to ensure your home meets your requirements.

How To Read Architectural Plans: If You're About To Start Building Your Dream Home - Part 3

By Steve Fitzpatrick

Congratulations, you've just taken the steps to visualise a two dimensional house plan and make sure it's going to work for you in practicality once the home is built. I'd like to offer you these further snippets of advice that can help you avoid problems arising later. I've seen a lot of homes built in my 20 year career and some mistakes can be made by novice designers, drafts-people and builders. These tips will help you think of the smaller details and help you avoid any oversights.


Generally the architectural drawings only show the building material such as brickwork or stud frames. You will want to consider that brickwork and frames will also have a lining, either hard-wall plaster or drylined gyprock sheeting. That means you'll lose about 10mm (1 centimetre) of space. If you have a niche though you will be losing 10mm from each side, which is really important if you have a piece of furniture that appears to only just fit in a space based off the drawings. Don't be disappointed about this after the home is completed, if in doubt, ask your designer to check it for you.
Vertical heights should also be considered. One common feature is the height of the shower head. Generally a shower outlet will be shown on the drawings anywhere between 1600mm high and 1800mm high. If you have an arm on the shower it will give you more height, but I have seen some clients change to a fixed shower fitting but the outlet was too low, resulting in problems later. If you're tall then keep this point in mind and discuss it with your designer.
Be sure to consider your floor finishes and their heights also. If you have a fridge that is 1.8m high you will need your plans to show a height of 1.8m plus your floor coverings between the floor and the underside of the overhead cabinets. If you're using plank on ply timber floors your floor height might be increase by 25mm which could affect your fridge fitting in the recess.
Consider your views and your window sill heights. I recently saw an episode of Grand Designs where an architect had designed a home with the window sills being up quite high which I immediately thought was odd during the build, but it wasn't picked up. At the end of the show the owners were sitting on their couch and couldn't see the ocean views. Take some time to think about what you'll see out of your windows and the heights of the windows. (Even think about what you might not want to see, like an ugly wall of your neighbours house!).

I hope these tips and tricks and general advice on your custom home designs make your home building life easier and you've come that little bit closer to finalising your dream home.

Architect Spa Design Floor Plan - Relax and Chill Out

By Martin Smith

An architect design floor plan can be found on the internet and in architectural magazines. One set of plans located on the web, Sage Springs Club and Spa, show a luxuriously appointed club and spa. The first floor of this spa/gym has a large luxurious lobby and reception area., a spa and fitness store that sells exercise clothing and various other spa products. Also on level one of this spa are a relaxation lounge, massage therapy rooms, wet room with vicy shower and a pedicure/manicure room.

The second floor of this architectural design spa floor plan has a conditioning room with a glass wall overlooking the tennis court below. This room also has Precor cardio equipment, cybex strength circuit, four screen television theater music channels with wireless headphones. There is also a movement studio for aerobics, yoga and stretch and toning exercises. At every station in this spa, you are treated like royalty. Membership in spas like this are costly, but well wroth the expense.

On the ground level the floor plans show five full size regulation Tennis courts and 3 lane indoor lap pools and spa.

There are lots of floor plans for different spas and gyms available on the internet. Almost all have some of the amenities of Sage Spring Spa and Club but this one had the most interesting floor plan of them all. Before joining an expensive spa or gym, check the ones you are interested in. Compare services, amenities, and prices before you sign anything.

Floor plans for detached condos are laid out similar to a 'home' not part of a condo complex. One floor plan for a detached condo in Michigan has a large family room,/dining room area, master bedroom with private bath, small kitchen area with an island, a powder room, and second-floor bedroom. There is also a garage on the first floor. A basement which can be finished has the potential for at least two more bedrooms. Detached condos are ideal for people who don't have the time or inclination for yard work. It would also be good for elderly people no longer capable of cutting grass or shoveling snow.


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''Where do architects and designers get their ideas?'' The answer, of course, is mainly from other architects and designers, so is it mere casuistry to distinguish between tradition and plagiarism?
Stephen Bayley

A building is akin to dogma; it is insolent, like dogma. Whether or no it is permanent, it claims permanence, like a dogma. People ask why we have no typical architecture of the modern world, like impressionism in painting. Surely it is obviously because we have not enough dogmas; we cannot bear to see anything in the sky that is solid and enduring, anything in the sky that does not change like the clouds of the sky.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

A doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.
Frank Lloyd Wright

A modern, harmonic and lively architecture is the visible sign of an authentic democracy.
Walter Gropius

A structure becomes architectural, and not sculptural, when its elements no longer have their justification in nature.
Guillaume Apollinaire

Ah, to build, to build! That is the noblest art of all the arts. Painting and sculpture are but images, are merely shadows cast by outward things on stone or canvas, having in themselves no separate existence. Architecture, existing in itself, and not in seeming a something it is not, surpasses them as substance shadow.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All architects want to live beyond their deaths.
Philip Johnson

All architecture is great architecture after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

All fine architectural values are human vales, else not valuable.
Frank Lloyd Wright


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