Building 101: How to read and understand a house plan

Thanks to the Internet, it is possible to find great house plans online  – from the comfort of your home.
It is possible to find great house plans online – from the comfort of your home. PHOTO/FILE
House plans are artistic creations that define all the specifications of a proposed house including proportions, designs, building materials, construction methods and techniques.

Unfortunately, many prospective home owners in Kenya are not familiar with building plans – a situation that complicates their home building endeavours.

While architects and contractors can break things down for you, it is a great idea to familiarise yourself with some construction knowledge.

It is particularly important to learn how to read and understand the main components of your home designs.

This basic knowledge of house plans in Kenya will allow you to adequately raise questions or concerns throughout all phases of construction.

The main components of great house plans include:

1.) A construction site plan – This is an overhead view of the site and the house location in reference to the boundaries of the plot. The plan should indicate location of fencing, gates, utility services, driveways and walkways and it may include geographical details that define the site’s topography.

2.) Foundation plan – It is a drawing to scale that shows a cross section and aerial view of the layout and dimensions of the foundation wall and footing required to support the load of the house including columns, beams and girders.

3.) A floor plan – This shows an aerial view of the layout, wall lengths and size of rooms in square footage as well as fittings and appliances.

Designers make use of scaled line types to show walls and their recommended width while symbols combined with standard abbreviations are used to indicate fittings and appliances.

A floor plan also shows the location of all doors and windows built in closets and wardrobes and arrangement of furniture. It may also include reference notes on construction techniques and building materials usually indicated through hatching or conventions.

4.) Building sections – These are drawings that show the interior structure of a building. They are created by “cutting” a house along an axis from the roof all the way down across the foundation to describe how the structure will be built and to show how the interior finishes will look like.

Sections are used to explain certain details of the design, including ceiling heights, window and door dimensions, stair case design and dimensions (if present), truss design and dimensions, roofing materials and the relationship of different levels to one another.

5.) Exterior elevations plans – Elevation plans are two dimensional non-perspective drawings showing how all faces (front, sides and rear) of the building will look like from outside. They include all the architectural features to be incorporated in the external finishes of the house including materials and dimensions.

Thanks to the advancement of information technology in Kenya, it is now possible to find thousands of great house plans online – from the comfort of your house.

There are many international websites out there offering powerful search engines that enable you to narrow down your house plans search based on your preferred design, budget, size and other parameters.

However, it is important to note that designs are site specific and you may want to seek help from an architect before you choose a house plan.

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