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Tips for Understanding Blueprints & Common Construction Terms

by Daniel Blockinger 06/04/2021

When dealing with blueprints and contractor jargon, it can feel like you're trying to read another language. Rather than suffer misunderstandings and end up with a newly renovated space that doesn't meet your needs, it's important to close the communication gap. Here are some tips for understanding blueprints and contracting terms so you can get the best results.

Learn the Basics of Reading Blueprints

Blueprints are more than just guidelines: they are precision drawings that reflect the final outcome. A typical blueprint includes all the exact measurements of structural elements and floor plan space. Blueprints for new home construction and sometimes renovation projects use some of these common terms:

      • Scale:This term refers to the shrunken down dimensions of the floor plan. A blueprint is usually drawn to a ¼ inch of the actual space. That essentially means that every ¼ inch of the drawing translates to 1 foot of living space.
    • Line Weights:The term "line weight" generally refers to the darkness and thickness of the drawing. Interior renovation blueprints usually use three types of lines: thick, medium and thin. Thick dark lines are used to define the perimeter of the project. Medium lines often highlight hidden items. Thin lines typically serve as guidelines.

    As you can see, terms such as scale and line weight mean specific things in the construction sector. If you hear other words that seem out of context, don't hesitate to clarify the meaning with the construction professional. Many experienced contractors understand they need to translate insider terms into everyday language.

    Put the Blueprints Into Context

    With a basic understanding of the blueprints in hand, consider working with a copy in the space before construction begins. Lay the blueprints out and measure things such as cabinet dimensions, center island square footage, toilet placement, vanity dimensions and foot traffic pathways. Write down the exact feet and inches of these and other important elements of your renovation.

    Now that you have a list, you can get a real-life grasp of the proposed layout. In a kitchen remodel, consider measuring cabinet and center island placement. Mark the floor with tape to create a map of the future living space. Take a moment and walk through it while imagining how it functions in terms of meal preparation, family gatherings and foot traffic. Countertops and vanities can also be mimicked by using cardboard materials or boxes.

    Before proceeding with demolition and a makeover, make sure you will feel comfortable with your future living space. The cost of redrawing the blueprints pales by comparison to not maximizing the potential or your home.

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