We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use our site or clicking the "I understand" button, you agree to our use of cookies detailed in our cookie policy and our terms of use.


Search the Blog


One of the most common challenges when purchasing a new build home home is not being able to physically walk through the space. This makes floor plans an important tool to understand all of your home’s features. Floor plans give a flattened, two-dimensional bird’s-eye view of a home, showing things like structure, door and window locations, room layout and more. But if you’re buying a new build home for the first time, a floor plan can look like an undistinguishable collection of lines and numbers. This easy-to-understand guide is just what you need to comprehend what you’re looking at on your next visit to a sales center.


When you’re looking through floor plans, they’ll be accompanied by various renderings, which will be labelled with an ‘elevation’. Each elevation corresponds to a different exterior aesthetic.


How to Read Your Home’s Floor Planimage_block-block_2f8ee1480d7a6c5df253d4a3b0bf7e02

1. Name of your model

Each model will have a name that you can easily remember and refer to when deciding which home design you like.


2. Major elements

Major elements in the floor plan will be labeled for ease of reading. These elements will almost always include the main features of your home, such as the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, porch, laundry room, foyer and living area. They may also include other important elements to make the floor plan easier to understand such as the breakfast bar, soaker tub, storage area or linen closet.


3. Commonly-used abbreviations

Because of space limitations, you’ll often come across abbreviated words throughout the floor plan. Here are a few common ones you’ll encounter:


    • WIC – Walk in Closet


    • W/D – Washer and Dryer


    • WIP – Walk in Pantry


    • STOR. – Storage area


    • LN. – Linen closet


    • DN. – Used on stairs, indicating the stairway down.


    • OPT. – Optional features that do not come standard with your home


    • PR – Powder room


4. Dimensions

Throughout the entire floor plan, the dimensions of the various areas and rooms will be indicated in feet and inches. As with the example below, the bedroom contains two dimensions. The diagram below will give you a better understanding of how these dimensions relate to the space.


How to Read Your Home’s Floor Planimage_block-block_1e3da9d1b350df774ecd1b590755530a

It’s important to note that dimensions are measured from the center of the room and assume the space is rectangular. The true dimensions can vary slightly with the shape and curvature of the room.


5. Doors

All doors will be indicated by a line in the direction it opens. Sliding doors, as seen on some closets on the example above will be indicated with two thin, slightly overlapping rectangles.


6. Cabinets

The presence of upper cabinets is indicated by a dotted line, as seen in the kitchen area above. This gives you an idea of their depth. Lower cabinets are built in and not specifically indicated.  Your decor representatives will be able to review and confirm the position and number of cabinets included in a specific kitchen layout.


7. Closets

Different closets will have different doors and built-in storage systems. The door will be indicated by either a swinging or sliding door icon, and the storage system will be show by a solid and dotted line, which represents a shelf and/or rod feature for clothing organization. With the example above, the master bedroom walk-in closet (WIC) shows a swinging door that opens inward, and features a clothing storage system in an L-formation.


8. Stairs and multiple floors

It can be difficult to understand how the relationship between the different levels and open space between floors will all work together when looking at a two-dimensional drawing. Each staircase will display the location of the staircase, any features under the stairs (storage closets etc.) as well as the direction of the stairs, marked with an UP or DN and a directional arrow. The second floor is often open in some area to view the floor below, and this area will be labeled with a “Open to below”, as with the example above. Other elements will be clearly labeled, such as the railing on the second floor. The jagged line shown on the stairs of the main floor and side entry garage is simply there to indicate a divide between the main and secondary levels.


9. Walls and windows

The various walls, outside doors and windows will be indicated by different lines and icons. Shaded areas are used to show different features, such as pillars and or structural beams, and sometimes space around different features such as the shower is needed due to the plumbing required behind the walls. Dotted lines, shown between rooms indicate an open area, or lack of wall. The various windows will be indicated by various rectangles that indicate the size and number of window panes there are.


10. Options

Throughout the floor plan, you will see various features indicated with ‘optional’. For example, the OPT. Tray Ceiling in the Flex Room. The optional features and pricing can be discussed with your decor representative.


We find that the best way to really visualize your space is to use a combination of our renderings, model homes or vignettes where available as well as the help of our sales and decor professionals. Start by visualizing yourself walking in the front door and take yourself through the home to really understand how your space will work, look and feel. Not every design will work for your lifestyle or living situation and that’s okay. And of course, if you have any questions, were always here to help you find the home that works for you.

For other homebuyer resources, click here.


Get new home design and lifestyle stories delivered straight to your inbox and stay in the loop on all things Empire.