by Leslie Patterson
When building your new home, you want to be involved in every aspect of the building process.
Unfortunately, very few homeowners are familiar with construction, which can cause costly and time-consuming miscommunication. While a good contractor will break things down for you, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basic home building knowledge. One of the most important things is ability to understand the blueprints. There are multiple pages within a set of blueprints, each having a specific purpose that is essential to construction:
- Cover Sheet – is an artist's rendering of what your home will look like upon completion.
- Foundation plan – identifies the layout of the foundation (crawl space, slab, pier or basement) that you have chosen based on your home design and location.
- Floor plans – shows the sizes and locations of all rooms, windows and doors, as well as plumbing, electrical, and other built in features.
- Elevations – Drawings of interior walls and the elements they include such as fireplaces or cabinets, as well as drawings of exterior walls with details of materials and dimensions.
- Cross-sections – drawings of the home for a particular section sliced from roof to foundation. These renderings allow you to see important structural elements from additional points of view.
- Details – Detail drawings break down certain components of your new home into step-by-step instructions. A few that may be included are framing plans, roof plans, electrical and plumbing schematics, stairways, and decks.
Throughout the blueprint pages there may be unfamiliar symbols. Generally these reference another page with a component's detailed instructions. This system of symbols ensures that every detail is mapped out while keeping the plans coherent. It is beneficial to ask your contractor to decipher specific symbols for you as they may vary by plan. Also look at your blueprints to determine which scale is in use. Every one-quarter or one-eighth of an inch on the blueprint equals one foot in actual size. Scale conversions can be figured in your head or using a tool like a scale ruler. It is important to check all measurements to ensure your blueprints contain the correct dimensions.
Familiarity with the different components of your home's blueprints will benefit both you and your contractor. This basic knowledge will allow you to adequately communicate questions or concerns throughout all phases of construction. In no time at all, your new home will emerge from an unruly stack of plans into a beautiful reality.
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