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Every plan should include a legend that indicates what the project is and what floor the plan is of. The legend should also include the scale (1/4 inch equals 1 foot; 1/8 inch equals 1 foot etc.) at which the floor plan is drawn. Sometimes the scale can be written out, while other times a graphic scale, such as shown here, is provided. A graphic scale is useful when the drawing gets reduced or enlarged or otherwise altered so that putting a ruler on the plan to measure distances no longer helps.
A legend can also include a north arrow. In fact, it's a drawing convention that the top right of the drawing page is always north.
Other items that can be included in a legend are the owners' names, the project address, the architect and other designers' names and the date (especially important with a construction drawing so revisions can be managed).
Walls have to be the most important architectural element shown in any plan. Whether exterior or interior, walls are the elements that form the rooms and the overall house. Sometimes thin, as in a 2-by-4 wood-frame house, and sometimes thicker, as in a masonry house, walls should always be drawn to indicate this thickness.
Walls are drawn as parallel lines with breaks where windows and doors occur. A particularly useful drawing convention that's used in a remodeling or addition project is to show the existing walls with no fill between the parallel lines while showing the new walls with a pattern or dark color between the lines.
Doors and windows are two of the most important elements shown on a floor plan. Each door and window is given a location and size. While windows are shown with three parallel lines in a wall, doors are typically shown as a straight line perpendicular to a wall and an arc that connects this line to the wall. The great thing about showing a door like this is we know which side has the hinges and which room the door opens into. For example, in this illustration the door leading into the pantry is hinged on the left (when you're standing outside the pantry) and opens into the pantry.
Note that for the mudroom, the two doors leading into the room are directly across from each other. This creates not only a strong circulation pattern but also a sight line that reinforces the pattern.
A French, or double, door is indicated by two arcs and lines, really as two single doors coming together. As with a single door, the direction of the door swing is indicated. In this case, the door swings into the living room, something that's important to know when placing furniture in the room.
The fireplace is another architectural element shown in a floor plan. It is shown as an outer rectangle indicating the exterior wall of the fireplace or chimney and the inner rectangle indicating the firebox (the place where the fire actually burns).
As with many such items, the plan will indicate the relationship between the fireplace and the other elements of the room. So the plan tells us if the fireplace is centered in the room, between windows or something else — all very important information. But it won't provide any third-dimension information.