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What’s the difference between a plan and a blueprint

A plan

floor plan, remodeling plan

A plan (floor plan, remodeling plan, room plan) is a scaled drawing of a building, room or home as viewed from above. It will show placement of rooms, doors, windows, major fixtures and appliances, etc. It can be used to calculate square footage or as the guide in planning, choosing specific construction materials, and guiding your contractor in estimating the cost of your project. The “plan view” is the typical architectural drawing we all see..with each room shown from the top view looking down on the home with the roof removed.House floor plan or “white print”


blueprints for houses

Blueprints are far more detailed and technical plans for your remodel or other construction project. The name ‘blueprint’ is derived from the material and the coating used to produce these plans in the past. The result of the printing process was the lines were white with a blue background. More recently blueprints smelled of ammonia which was part of the blueprint printing process. Today laser and inkjet printing technologies have enabled architects and home designers to create these drawings without use of the old “blueprint” printing processes and the blueprint name is a hold over from the past. Blueprints are usually drawn in either 18 x 24″ or 24 x 36″. A complete set of blueprints will include a floor plan, elevation drawings of each side of the structure, basement or foundation plan, including footings and bearing walls, a complete electrical layout, a framing plan, drawings of all plumbing and mechanical systems, cross section drawings of structural elements, a roof plan, and a plot plan.

So what do you need? A blueprint or a plan?

A blueprint or a plan for houses

The answer is that for most people a blueprint and a plan are the same thing? Both words blueprint and plan are used by most people to mean a technical drawing – drawn to scale to show a house or a room. This is the common usage for these words and it is widely understood that blue print and plan can be used interchangeably. So which do you need? They are the same thing so just call them what you are comfortable with. As you work with designers and contractors and the city to get a building permit you will likely hear different expressions so you can begin calling the blueprints or plans with what others call them in your region

hen planning a remodel, all of these elements might not be required. A simple remodel might not, in fact, require formal blueprints for the project. You will need to check with your local building and inspections office to find out if a complete set of blueprints or other drawings is required for your project Blueprint Example from early 20th century

In addition to the drawings, the blueprints will provide very specific information that will tell the contractor exactly how the job is to be completed.

There are many ways to find ideas for your remodel – you can look in magazines, newspapers, online, in showrooms and friends’ homes. Open houses and model homes are also great places to see some of the latest design styles and ideas, professionally staged by a designer.

Interior designers, architects and design showrooms are a great resource for both finding ideas as well as getting assistance with the design. And don’t think that design services are all or nothing services – design showrooms, lighting stores, tile stores are all great resources to get expert advice and ideas for your remodel. The best way to get help from these experts is to call ahead and set an appointment for your visit. Bring with you some photos of the room you want to remodel, along with a good list and photos of what you like as well as dimensions for your room and your budget. With all of this information handy, many showrooms can provide an enormous amount of advice and recommendations. Don’t forget to ask for samples that you can borrow. Seeing that tile or light fixture in your home makes a big difference in making smart decision decisions for your remodeling project.

If you need to find a designer or architect for your remodel you can use our Find a Designer resource. Simply enter your name and zip code and we will search through our database to provide you with a list of reliable designers to help you get started with your remodel. A designer and architect can help your vision for your home remodel become a reality by taking your ideas and finding practical design solutions.

When you have decided on the design for your remodel you can then set about finding a good contractor to carry out the work – and we can help! By using our Find a Contractor page, you can simply enter your name, zip code, and phone number, and a pre-screened contractor will call you to talk about your remodel – entirely for free.

8 tips to find ideas for designing your home and having a successful remodel

designing your home

  • Search the Ideafile for pictures, photos and design ideas

  • Visit designer showrooms

  • Visit open houses and model homes

  • Call in an interior designer

  • Consult with an architect

  • Spend time at the library looking through magazines and books

  • Search online

  • Visit friends and neighbors’ homes and take photos so you will remember great design ideas.

Frequently Asked Questions about blueprint vs. plan

plan and a blueprint

1. Question: Where can i get a set of plans and specification and blueprint samples?

Answer: Check with your local city or permit issuing organization – many times they have sample set of plans and specifications and blueprints. Here is the information on blueprints and plans from the city of Los Angeles

2. Questions: Floor plan vs. blueprint

Answer: A floor plan can be a blueprint or printed on white paper with a modern printer. A floor plan is a view of a building – from directly above while a blue print is a type of drawing – specifically the chemicals used to create a drawing – drawing can be architectural or engineering.

3. Question: Difference between blueprints vs. drawings

Answer: Blueprints, drawings and plans are just a few different names for the same thing – the different drawings that show what a building looks like from the inside and outside so it can be constructed. A blueprint is a description of a way of printing and duplicating drawings that was used years ago. Blueprints, drawings and plans are typically laser or inkjet printed these days – but also plotters are used.

4. Question: What is the difference between “roof plan” and “roof framing plan”

Answer: A roof plan is a plan view of the roof with the exterior roofing in place – like you would see if you were in an airplane above the house. The purpose of the roof plan is to see how the water will drain during a rain storm and verify locations of vents, etc the perforate the roof. A roof framing plan shows the structure of the what is holding up the roof – what is under the “skin” of the roof.