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House Planning Guide_2

There is no mystery to planning, financing, scheduling, negotiating or managing construction- just preparation and diligence.

Developing A Complete Set Of Plans

Architectural plans are the central medium for communication in homebuilding projects. Architects use them to work through the design approach with their clients. Lenders use them to assess the value of your home you’re asking them to finance. Local building department officials review plans before issuing a permit to make sure they conform to code and zoning rules. Contractors and subcontractors use the information in architectural plans to work up bids for labor and materials. Workers n the job uses them as a virtual instruction manual. And while you hope it doesn’t come to this, your lawyer may need to argue based on the plans that one or more of the professionals on the job didn’t live up to his part of the bargain. In other words, architectural plans are a record of what is to be built and how it’s to be built. Therefore, it’s to everyone’s advantage that plans be complete and highly detailed. But at best, even the most thorough plans are a bit abstract since they use a two-dimensional format to represent three-dimensional objects with a set of visual symbols. It is essential as an owner-builder that you understand the symbolic language of architectural plans.

A complete set of plans Whether you commission an architect or a home designer to plan your new home, or acquire stock plans through a plans service, you will ultimately need a full set of plans that includes many different kinds or drawings. At the minimum, your building department will probably require a plot plan, foundation plan, floor plan, elevation views of each exterior wall of the house, and mechanical plans-which give an overall view of the plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems. For special structural and decorative features, various detail views may also be drawn.

A complete set of plans also generally includes several different lists of specifications, called scheduled, for items like windows and doors. Items listed in schedules are keyed to the plans with letters or numbers. By understanding the purpose and scope of each plan and becoming familiar with the more common symbols and conventions, you can reduce the need for costly mid-job changes and communicate exactly what you want to your builder.

The Site Plan A site plan shows the location and compass orientation of your new home, along with its relation to nearby roads, power lines, stone walls and other landmarks, as if you were looking down on them from above.

The site plan frames all subsequent drawings and includes much more detail than typically found in public records. Contour lines describe the original lay of the land and may indicate where the grade, which is the level of the ground, is to be changed information that tells the excavator and plumber how the paving and septic leach field should be constructed to ensure that they drain away from the house. Site plans also depict the location of trees- existing or transplanted-to give you a birds-eye view or how vegetation can work with site orientation to provide shade or privacy buffer. The site plan may also become the basis for a landscaping plan.

Floor Plans

Floor plans show the shape of the house as you would see it from directly above without the roof, the position of interior partitions that divide the house into rooms, and the positions and widths or windows, doors, plumbing fixtures and appliances. Looking down on your home from this lofty perspective, the relationship between communal space and private areas becomes clear, as does the placement of exterior windows and doors. Will those narrow windows in the kitchen provide enough light? Which entry door will see the heaviest use? Have you provided enough storage for boots and coats? Good floor plans answer these sorts of questions.

A multi-level home requires separate floor plans for each floor. With a rudimentary knowledge of graphic symbols, you can also determine the architect’s intensions for basic structural approaches and material selection. Analysis of floor plans enables you to envision traffic patterns within the house. As you mentally move from one space to the next of the plans, examine the direction of door swings, the size of openings, traffic patterns and ease of movement between various levels of the house. In the kitchen, consider your cooking habits.

Framing Plans and Section Views

Framing plans bring the skeleton of the home into the foreground. Few designers, however, supply a framing sketch for every wall, ceiling, and floor. Instead, they create magnified detail drawing of the more difficult architectural features- dormers, roofs, floors and exterior walls with extensive window and door openings. If you are new to the visual language of drafting, deciphering these intricate drawings with their cutaway sections may seem alien-like trying to read music without any knowledge of musical notation. With a basic understanding of the symbols used, however, you can assess important details pertaining to various structural components, insulation, and subflooring, or simply examine how a roof overhang relates to exterior siding and trim

The builder who agrees to use a set of framing plans- or any other part of the construction plans package-assumes responsibility for executing those details correctly. The more detailed your plans, the more insurance you have against future problems due to improper execution.


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