How To Read A Floor Plan In 5 Minutes

June 21, 2022
how to read a floor plan

If you’re a first-time renter or building your dream house, it is essential to know how to read a floor plan. From a bird’s eye view, these are a 2D diagrammatic representation of your property.

They may look like a treasure hunt map, but they give great insight into the structure of your house. It may feel tricky at first, but once you get familiarised with familiar symbols and terms, they become a piece of cake.

This article will give you insight that will help you understand how to read a floor plan.

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What is a floor plan?

how to read a floor plan

A floor plan means a drawing that shows the layout of a home or property. They include all the critical features such as doors, windows, staircases, fireplaces, etc.

Floor plans are an essential part of the house-hunting and construction process. They give you an approximation of how much space there is and how the rooms are arranged.

The house plan is drawn to scale in keeping with the home’s original size. It also distinguishes each room and specifies the area’s size. The majority of the 2D room drawing depicts the length and width of the space. 

How do you read a floor plan?

First, you need to know the floor plan symbol chart. Here are some important terms:

The arrow direction

An arrow in a floor plan symbolises the north. This allows you to see how different rooms are positioned in relation to one another and which way each entrance faces. 

The next step is to identify the rooms

A different shape represents each room in the house. For example, a rectangle may represent the kitchen, while a square represents the living room.

The size of each room will also be indicated on the floor plan. This can be done in several ways, but the most common is by using square footage.

Another way to identify the rooms on a floor plan is by their function. For example, a room used for cooking will be labelled as the kitchen.

Common symbols used in a floor plan

It’s important to know what all the symbols mean if you want to know how to read a floor plan correctly. Let’s look at a few of the common symbols:


Walls are represented by solid lines. They can be load-bearing or non-load-bearing.


Doors are shown as thin rectangles with a line across the middle. The direction that an arrow indicates in which direction the door swings.


Windows are represented by rectangles with dotted lines. The rectangle’s width usually indicates the size of the window.


Staircases are shown as a series of steps. An arrow indicates the direction of the staircase.

While learning about how to read a floor plan, You can often see cut lines in a stairway. This is where the staircase is three feet above the floor. Beyond this, the staircase is shown in dotted lines.


These are shown as squares or rectangles with a line across the middle.

Floor plan abbreviations – Australia

Another vital step in learning how to read a floor plan is knowing the abbreviations:

FW – Furnished wall: This represents a wall already furnished with cabinets, shelves, etc.

UW – Unfurnished Wall: This represents a wall that is not furnished.

D – Door

W – Window

S – Stair

F – Fireplace

N/A – Not Applicable: This is used in cases where a particular feature is not present in the floor plan.

R/W – Rough Wall

D/W – Drywall

T-Bar – T-Bar Ceiling: This is a type of ceiling commonly used in commercial buildings.

S/S – Stainless Steel

G – Glass

B – Brick

C – Concrete

how to read a floor plan
Image credit: Livspace

What does BIR mean in real estate? 

The BIR stands for Built-In Robe. It is a type of closet that is built into the wall.

What is WIR meaning in the house?

WIR stands for Walk-in robe floor plans. It is a type of closet that is not built into the wall. You can walk into it from the bedroom. 

What does WIL mean in house plans?

WIL in house plan is similar to WIR and stands for Walk-in Linen.

What else does your floor plan include?

Last but not least, the lesson on how to read a floor plan is a piece of unique information. These can be

  • Elevation: This is a view of the front, back, and sides of the house. It shows how the house will look from different angles.
  • Exterior elevation: Drawings typically show you what the home looks like from the outside.
  • Cross-section: This is a view of the house from top to bottom. It shows the different levels of the house and how they are connected.
  • Building Schedule: This is a list of all the materials used in the construction of the house.
  • Legend: This is a key that explains all the symbols used in the floor plan.
  • Roofing material: Such as shingle or tile, and installation details like type, pitch and framing are all included.
  • Any other pertinent information that does not fall into one of the aforementioned categories might be included as additional notes.

Floor plan with dimensions

When reading measurements in a floor plan, it’s essential to know the scale used. The scale is typically indicated in the legend of the floor plan.

For example, if the scale is 1/4″ = 1′, this means that for every 1/4″ on the floor plan, this represents 1′ in real life.

If the legend does not indicate a scale, then you can assume that the floor plan is drawn to scale.

Is width or length first in the floor plan?

The convention for writing measurements is width first, followed by length. For example, a 10′ wide and 12′ long room would be written as 10′ x 12′.

Looking for your dream home? 

We can also help you out in that department. Browse our search page to check out some fantastic listings available right now. But don’t just stop there; download our app to get the whole Soho experience. Just remember to shortlist or swipe left on our listings so we can send you others that better match what you’re looking for.

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