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If you're building your own home, you'll need to understand how to read a house plan. We'll help you understand the difference between foundation, floor, elevation and roof plans.

If you’re building new, you should have an understanding of your plans.

Building a home doesn’t need to be daunting. Once you have decided on your builder and walked through all the beautiful display homes, you’ll need to choose a house plan that suits your needs. To get what you want you’ll need to understand your house plans.

If you happen to be one of the hundreds of Australians that have decided to build your own home, this article will help you understand what you’ll be walking into once it’s complete. It all starts with your house plans.


What is a house plan?

A house plan is defined as a set of very detailed drawings that define the dimensions, layout and construction of a new home.

Your house plan will be designed by an architect or your chosen home builder. Plans are detailed, with each line playing an essential role in the final construction of a home, so it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable with the final set. Once you and your home builder have agreed on the plans, they’re taken by a builder to construct your home. 


There are a lot of things to consider, so don’t be afraid to ask questions - Robert Graham, Co-Head of Design

How does understanding your plans help?

When you have a basic understanding of your plans, you can be more involved in the actual construction of your home.

Understanding your house plans means that you’ll be equipped to ask informed questions and safeguard yourself against any design slips or problems and ensure you get a house suited to your needs.

 Where should you start?

Living in a highly functional home that suits your family’s needs will make life more comfortable and enjoyable. So, it’s vital that you start with key decisions, such as single-or double-storey and the minimum number of bedrooms you need.


“Your home should also work with your lifestyle, so media rooms, outdoor entertaining areas and home offices are important spaces to consider during the initial design process.” - Rob


What’s included in a house plan?

A typical set of house plans may include the following:

  • Foundation plans - These detail the foundations of the home. It will consist of things like the slab and beams.
  • Floor plans - these show the layout of individual rooms, walls, doors, windows and built-in fixtures. Floor plans are shown from a bird’s-eye view.
  • Elevation plans - These will show each of your homes four sides, showing the exact measurements of each along with the materials they’re to be constructed from
  • Roof plans - This plan details the elements that make up the roof. It shows angles as well as materials as well as any decorative elements like chimneys.
  • Electrical plans - these will show the location of specific lighting fixtures, outlets and switches.


‘Stockland has design guidelines, which are there to make sure our streets are beautiful for the whole community. So it’s important that you make sure you give these guidelines to your builder.’ - Rob


Reading house plans

House plans are drawn to scale so you’ll be able to get a good idea of certain rooms and cupboard space. An excellent tip to help you visualise an area is to mark it out with painter’s tape on the floor of your current home. This way you can see how big or small the space is in relation to what you are used to.

Every common fixture in a house will have its own unique symbol. For example, there are nine different types of doors that are represented by different semi-circles.

Symbols will look like miniature versions of the life-size things they represent, and there will be a legend that explains exactly what each specific symbol relates to. It’s important to consider each fixture and fitting in regards to its surrounds, for example, you may see there is a toilet marked on the plan and skip straight past it, but now is the time to think in more detail about its location in regards to the rest of your bathroom. For example, do you really want it opposite your vanity or would you prefer it next to the shower?


Think about the little things

Understanding house plans also gives you a good idea of what is missing from each room. The small touches are just as crucial as the big things. Designing the perfect floor plan can be hard so ask yourself, are there enough power points? Where are the lights?  Where are my air-conditioning vents? Is there enough ventilation in the laundry? What about storage?

Also, try and position main parts of the house facing north, and bedrooms facing south or east, especially in hot climates. Ideally, outdoor areas should get sun in winter and be cool and shady in summer.


“All the little things that make up your design will help you build the dream home that’s perfect for now and the future.”- Rob

 Reviewing House Plans Checklist

Altering floor plans

Form the beginning you can work with your architect or home builder to ensure that your home is as you prefer. By asking the questions above, you’ll be able to ensure that everything works for you. Lots of the builders have beautifully designed display homes in our communities so take the time to walk through your favourite multiple times so you can consider all the details and have a clear picture in your mind.


The final word

It’s important to understand your house plans to ensure you get exactly what you want. The devil is in the detail, so speak to your builder about everything on your plans that you don’t understand.


To get in contact with Stockland about building your first home, or to find a community near you, click here.

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