The Builder’s Guide to Architectural Drawings
Jul 15, 2020
An architectural drawing is the technical rendering of a house or other structure that is both an illustration of what the final home will look like and also a tool used by engineers, contractors, designers, and builders to execute the construction.
Architects use these drawings to develop their design idea into a proposal and to communicate design concepts. The drawings will reflect the overall appearance—internal and external—of the home, how it is oriented on a building site, and the layout of its living areas. Some of the drawings are more conceptual, to communicate the look and feel of the house, and some are technical, used specifically to direct how the building is constructed.
The architecture plan is the initial set of design schematics on which engineers rely to provide the basis for their mapping of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems for the house. In a set of blueprints, you will find the architectural drawings first, including details and elevations, followed by the structural drawings created by all the engineers involved. Used together, the set of drawings comprises the blueprint package.
Builders, contractors and trades use the architectural drawings to create a building that satisfies the architectural intent, structural performance, and occupant experience required.
Architects have been making detailed technical drawings for structures for centuries, beginning with hand-drawn plans using compass, ruler, and French curve template. Today, many architects use sophisticated software to create computer-aided designs. These digital solutions allow architects to cut down on formerly labor-intensive processes by automatically syncing to team members’ plans. Importantly for builders, they no longer need to manually roll out reams of paper to manage their blueprint packages.
What are the different types of architectural drawings?
The site plan functions as a readable map of a building site, communicating the details of how the structure will be oriented on the lot. This diagram shows the plot of land and its property lines, along with its landscape features, structural elements, setbacks, driveways, utility poles and power lines, fencing, and on-site structures.
Imagine a view of a home sliced horizontally about five feet from the ground and looking down from above. This is the way a floor plan is drawn, and it is designed to give you a detailed idea of the layout of each floor of the house. It includes features such as walls, doors, windows, and even furniture, all represented by symbols that are drawn to scale.
Reflected ceiling plan (RCP)
The RCP is a print that shows you the dimensions, materials, and other key information about the ceiling of each of the rooms represented on your blueprint. It takes its name from the idea that you are looking down at the ceiling as though there were a mirror on the floor reflecting the ceiling’s plan back to you. (Note that this type of drawing isn’t always included in the blueprints package.)
Special details of a house are included in drawings whose small features are magnified so that a builder can see how to construct these elements. Structural connections, window openings, and wall junctions might all be included in supplemental detail drawings.