What Kinds Of Drawings Can I Get From An Architect?

Though the finished product of any building project is in three dimensions, architects typically produce two-dimensional drawings for contractors to build from and also for the building officials to review. It’s possible in the future that contractors and building officials will be able to use 3D models to work from, but 2D drawings can still help people understand how spaces and materials go together. Here are names for the different types of drawings architects make and what you are looking at:


The most common drawing is call a plan. Sets of drawings are often called “plans” even though they may contain other types of drawings because what an architect does is planning what a contractor is going to built. Floor plans are typically the starting point of all the other drawings. They are an overhead view of the space, if you sliced through the walls at around 4 feet or so above a floor level. With a floor plan, you will get sense of how all the spaces connect and be able to compare the proportions of the spaces. Floor plans typically will have the most dimensions out of all the drawings and can also note the sizes of doors and windows. They can also have tags that show you how the other drawings in the set relate to the floor plan.

A roof plan is an overhead view of the space just from the outside, not cut through at a certain floor level. It will show the roof slopes and materials.

A site plan is also an overhead view, though at a much wider range than the roof plan. It shows how a project will meet the zoning requirements, like how far the building needs to be setback from the property lines or how much of the lot will be covered with roofs or pavement.

A reflected ceiling plan shows what the ceiling will look like, though it is mirrored (thus reflected) so the walls in the ceiling plan will be in the same orientation as the floor plan. It will show where the lights are going and what the ceiling finishes and heights will be. Sometimes electrical plans will accompany reflected ceiling plans so the switches can be planned out in advance, as well as any power outlets.

A foundation plan shows what will be going in the ground to support the building. A framing plan shows the wood or steel members that will make up the floor or roof. These are often done by a structural engineer, but on some smaller residential projects an architect might do them instead.


Elevations can be either exterior or interior. Either way, they are a straight on view of a wall if you were standing in front of it (either on the outside or inside of the building). Elevations tell how high things in the floor plan are so most of the dimensions on the elevations will be for heights. Elevations are also a common place where materials of surfaces are noted, especially on the exterior.


Where a plan is a view of a horizontal cut through the building, a section is a view of a vertical cut through the building. You will be looking in the same direction as an elevation, except you can see inside the walls, floors, ceilings, and roofs of the building to help understand how the interior spaces of a building relate to each other. Sections can be of the overall building to show a double height space, sloped ceiling, or stairs. Or they can be more detailed, showing the components of a wall.


Sometimes all the information you need to know about doors, windows, equipment, and finishes can be noted on the drawings. But other times, when all the information can’t be listed on the drawings directly, the information is entered in a table with a symbol placed on the drawing to refer back to the table.

What Drawings Will Be Included In My Project Set?

Not every kind of drawing will be included for each project. New construction is more likely to have more kinds of drawings since everything is being constructed from scratch. If the renovation is simple enough, maybe only a floor plan is necessary. Drawings that relate to the finishes (reflected ceiling plan, electrical plan, interior elevations) sometimes aren’t included if the owner wants to coordinate those items with the contractor instead of planning them out with the architect.

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