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Understanding house plans

Being presented with a floor plan for the first time can feel like you’re reading something that has been written in another language, leaving you overwhelmed and unsure whether building a new home is the right move for you. Lucky for you, with a little help, understanding architectural drawings may not be as hard as it may seem at first.

A floor plan will tell you a lot of information about how the home will function and what it will feel like to live in. Floor plans are great for describing the scale and size of the home, how the rooms of the home fit together and how the flow between the spaces will work in real life.

When you request a quote for our designs you will receive a detailed PDF floor plan of the house you want to learn more about. It will include a modest amount of information and is created to communicate a home’s design to non-professionals. Below we outline some of the secret coded icons that will help you to understand the plans with a little more ease.

Walls | House plan details

The walls are the strongest visual elements in a floor plan. Walls are represented by parallel lines and may be solid or filled with a pattern. Breaks in walls indicate doors, windows and openings between rooms.

Wall symbols on a house plan

Exterior walls - are presented as a thick black line and are usually structural walls. These are usually the first walls to be built and play a huge part in the house’s structural integrity. 

Symbols on a house plan

Interiors walls - are a thinner line compared to exterior walls. Interior walls are more likely to be moved during the design stages to help create a space that is more user friendly for the owner.  

Doors | House plan details

Doors in floor plans are located within the breaks in the walls. There are a range of door styles which are usually chosen to complement the use of the door as well as space which it is in.

Single door symbol on a house plan

Single door - thin line opens up and an arc is created to indicate the swing direction.

Double door symbol on a house plan

Double door - similar to the single door, there are two arcs that also show the swing direction.

Sliding door symbol on a house plan

Sliding door - a sliding door usually includes one door that stays stationary while the other door overlaps. These are usually popular to help with indoor-outdoor flow and are made out of glass to let in additional light. 

Bi-fold door symbol on a house plan

Bi-fold door - Bi-folding doors are doors that slide open and are made from a series of panels that fold in or out to open up space. Bi-folds are usually glazed with large glass panels that let plenty of light in.

Pocket door symbol on a house plan

Pocket door - A pocket door, or cavity slider, is a sliding door that, when fully open, disappears from view into a compartment in the adjacent wall.

Double pocket door symbol on a house plan

Double pocket door - The same as the pocket door, the double pocket door is great when there is limited space for the swing of a hinged door. They can travel on rollers suspended from an overhead track or tracks or guides along the floor.

Arrows on a house plan

Arrows - indicate what direction the sliding doors and pocket doors slide

Windows | House plan details

Windows are breaks in walls crossed by thin lines showing the glass and the frame.

Single casement window symbol on a house plan

Single casement window - Is a singular moveable window that is attached to its frame by one or more hinges at the side.

Window symbol on a house plan

Double casement window - The functionality is the same as the single casement however who windows are located one above the other. 

Making yourself familiar with where the doors and windows are located in the floor plan is important when visualising your new home design. Take time to understand how they open, their location, and most importantly the size. Light is incredibly important, as is maximising a view so visualise yourself within the home and discuss with one of our team any changes you may like to make to window and door placements.

Flooring | House plan details

Flooring is one of the most important features in our homes. It is even more important to make sure that the type of floor being laid is right for the space. Seeing the different flooring patterns in a floor plan gives you a better idea of scale as well as the legal requirements such as waterproofing for a particular space.

Designers prefer to include flooring materials in their floor plans to help provide a better idea of the scale which helps the viewer imagine how a room will feel.

Flooring symbols on a house plan

White space - this represents a space which can be left as exposed concrete, carpeted or covered in floorboards. 

Wet floor symbol on a house plan

Wet area flooring - this is predominantly only located in wet areas such as bathrooms, laundries and in some cases, kitchens. This area will need to be appropriately laid with the right materials to pass a code of compliance. 

Deck symbol on a house plan

Exterior decking - This represents the size of the decking that is recommended by the designer. All our decks are built once the prefab home has been placed in its location. 

Other icons | House plan details

Hot water symbol on a house plan

Hot water tank

Wardrobe symbol on a floorplan


Understanding house plans - smoke alarm

Smoke alarm

Meter box Wardrobe symbol on a floorplan

Meter Box

Fuse box symbol on a floorplan

Fuse Board

Furniture, fixtures and finishes

Most companies will include the location of sinks, toilets, baths, beds, and other furnishings in their floor plans to show the scale of the home. Skilled designers focus intently on locating kitchens and bath fixtures because they know that precise layout matters for plumbing. The placement of a refrigerator in relation to the sink, oven and range can determine if a kitchen is comfortable or awkward to work around. Similarly, a toilet placed too close to a vanity makes a bathroom feel cramped and uncomfortable. Key fixtures and appliances are pretty easy to spot or work out in a floor plan. 

New build floorplanThere’s no set standard for things like beds, sofas or fridges so measure up key items of furniture in your home and apply them to the plans to see if your california king bed or L-shaped sofa will fit! At Genius Homes we can look to create a unique floor plan for you with these types of items included should it become necessary.

Finding the right scale

One of the biggest benefits of building a new home is that you get to pick the floor plans and design to meet your exact requirements. When comparing house plans while in the early stages, one of the more important characteristics you’ll consider is the area of the floor plan, the size of the plan. If you already know the size that you want your master bedroom and ensuite to be, then we can amend our house design plans to reflect these. 

If you’re not 100% confident with your plan and its scale, our team recommend grabbing a roll of masking tape and head along to your section and start laying out the plan. This will help to get an idea of scale. Also, get an idea of your current living conditions. If your bedroom feels that touch too small then get a tape measure out and record this information before supplying our design team with your requirements. 

When choosing the right floor plan for you it pays to Imagine how the plan will feel and work when you are doing the things that define your life. Lucky for you, Genius Homes has a large number of houses being constructed in their Timaru based factory which can be viewed by potential customers at any stage. This is a great way to gauge the size of the houses and get a feel for what works and doesn’t work for you. Book a factory tour here.

If you haven't found a plan that ticks all the boxes, our team can work with you to create a custom layout that suits you and your family's lifestyle. 

Contact us today to discuss your genius homes dream home

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