Architectural Drawing Guide

A Guide To Architectural Drawings

What Are Architectural Drawings?

There are many kinds of architectural drawings but the major ones include site plans, floor plans & detail drawings. The drawing demonstrates scale, size, layout and more.  An architectural drawing is more than just a picture of a building. It’s a tool that architects use to communicate their ideas to clients, so they can see the design come to life. Architectural drawings are especially important for complex projects, where a detailed understanding of the final product is essential. Drawings can be used to spot potential problems or conflicts before construction begins.  Architectural drawings are used by the municipality, the builder, and the homeowner.  Coming up with an architectural drawing can be a lot of work but reading them is easy once you know what you are looking at!  Let’s review some of the drawings you will run across when building a custom home or renovation.

Kinds Of Architectural Drawings

Site Plan

The site plan is one of the most important documents for any construction project. It provides a top-down view of the property, showing all the important features and structures that are present. This includes things like orientation, lot size, boundaries, landscape features, easements, and setbacks. utility lines and buildings. This information is essential for the project manager in order to develop a construction plan. The site plan also serves as a reference point for the workers during the construction process. By having a clear and accurate site plan, the project will run smoother and have a better chance of being completed on time and within budget.  Site Plans are used by cities, inspectors, realtors and builders. A copy of your site plan is filed with approved construction permits to provide a historical record of construction on the property.

Concept & Isometric Drawings

Concept drawings or sketched are often used to help customers visualize the design they have created.  These drawings can show a rendition of how the interior or exterior will look.  These types of drawings help bring 2D plans to life an allow customers to make changes based on the 3D version of the project. Concept drawings are often used in the early stages of a project to help gauge customer reaction and make changes before the project moves too far along. They can also be used as a marketing tool to help generate interest in a project. Regardless of their use, concept drawings can be a valuable asset in the design process.

Floor Plans

A floor plan is a drawing made by architect that provides a top down aerial view of the interior of you construction project. A floor plan helps customer visualize the size of walls and floor spaces and make necessary changes to the plan.  A floor plan drawing shows details about each feature including walls, doors, windows, outlets, stairs, etc.  Some features listed previously can be omitted depending on the requirements of the plan. 

Structural Drawings

Architects and engineers play a vital role in making sure that buildings are safe and stable. Each wall, joist, and beam need to be guaranteed to hold up the floors above.  Professionals use computer software and building code to ensure your home has a solid structure.  Structural drawings show the details about walls, foundations, framing, posts, footings and beams. Designing a safe and stable building is a complex task that requires the skills of both architects and engineers. Architects are responsible for the overall design of the building, including its layout and appearance. Engineers, on the other hand, focus on the technical aspects of the design, such as the strength of the materials used and the construction of the foundation.

Mechanical, Electrical & Plumping Drawings (MEP)

When planning a renovation or construction project everything needs to be planned before any hammer is swung. You can probably plan out where you want the duct work, sinks and plugs to go, but where do all those pipes and wires go once they are in the wall.  An architect helps you create a sensible plan based on the layout of the home and site plan.  MEP drawings tell the electricians, plumbers and HVAC contractors exactly where each vent, duct, pipe or wire is to be installed.  MEP drawings are important to keep construction on schedule and on budget.

Detail Drawings

Detail drawings are plans the show the construction project in a 2D plan with small features magnified that demonstrate to the builder, how the architect wants them built.  Typical detail drawings show things like structural connections, wall junctions, beam size, footing size, etc.  The plans provide enhanced detail at small scales.  Detail drawings are an essential part of the construction process, providing builders with vital information about how to construct a project according to the architect’s specifications. Without detail drawings, it would be nearly impossible to ensure that all of the small but important features of a project are built correctly. From structural connections and wall junctions to beam size and footing size, detail drawings provide critical guidance that helps to ensure the success of a construction project.

Preliminary Plan example
Preliminary OP 2 – revision example v2

Want To Build Something? Get A Free Consultation From Today!

These days all architectural drawings are made by computers but there are no difference between computer generated or hand drawn plans, except the age perhaps.  Our team can create custom architecture drawings for any construction project.  We specialize in designing luxury homes, custom homes and major renovation projections for residential and commercial clients in Ontario.  To learn about working with us to engineer and design your custom project schedule a free design consultation today!


Site Plan –This is an aerial view of the site that will show all the buildings including those for improvement. It gives a picture of the scope of the construction and shows the lay of the land (topography) including roads, walkways, etc.

Floor Plan – This is how the rooms will look. It will show the dimensions and installations like plumbing or electrical. It won’t matter what the room is intended for, it is just the layout.

Cross-section – This is a two-dimensional view to show the vertical aspect of the building. It will show the parts that will be seen after the project is completed as well as the parts that are behind the wallboard. It will show the depth behind the structures and both sides.

Elevation – This will show the height of the building, direction of the sun, wind, or other elements. It will also show the placement and sizes of windows and doors.

Landscape – This is the external view that shows plantings like trees, power poles, parks, pools, or anything else. They are designed to show the décor of the yard, roads, area, parking, etc.

Finished – This is much like the elevation drawing since it shows small details including ceiling shapes, even color scheme or design elements.

Working Plan – This is what the contractor uses to keep track of the project and show the overall scope. It will include notes (legend) about the different components.

Section – This shows a slice of the building and helps to identify other surrounding structures and materials to be used.

General Note – This is not a drawing but contains all the detailed information about codes, lengths, abbreviations, etc.

Excavation – This shows how deep to dig, how much and what to remove. It can include trenching, wall shafts, tunnels, etc.

As Built – This shows the difference between the original plan and what has been built.

Line Plan – This is a line drawing showing the room structure. It will provide the sizes of the rooms, doors, a general overview of the room as it is planned.

Shop Drawings – Shop drawings are usually between contractors and subcontractors. It shows how something will be installed or manufactured.

Installation – There are some essentials here like ventilation shafts, HVAC, etc. For complex structures like data centers, it shows the placement of key components.

Location – These are also called general arrangement drawings. If the project involves multiple buildings it will show everything including elevations, different plans, and sections.

Location Plan – This is a wider version and may be referred to as General Arrangement Drawings. They show the relationships of buildings and other structures.

Structural – Engineering drawings focus on the structure or how it is put together. It is necessary for the permits and as a guide to the construction team.

Column Layout – This is a floor-by-floor depiction of the support structures and shows the distance between the columns.

Plinth Beam Layout – This is another view of the building’s support system.Lintel

Beam Layout – Again, it shows the support structue for doors and windows.

Roof Beam and Shuttering – The roof beam is a critical support for the top of the building.

Roof Slab Layout – This is made through the use of AutoCAD to give details about the floors and roof as well as other points that require precise edge information.

Block Plan – This is a wide view of adjoining buildings, roads, etc. drawn to scale.

Framing – This shows the carpenters where to position the beams, floor, etc.

Component – This is for a manufacturer of a product and shows all the details of the parts and subparts.

Concept – This is an early or first draft of the ideas. They are broad and carry no details.

Engineering – They guide the engineer and the contractor to show the placement of certain components.

Assemblies – This shows how things fit together including patterns, 3D, sections and elevations.

Design – Similar to concept drawings, this gives the group a chance to explore other ideas and can be a reference document.

Foundation – This is the basement or ground floor. It shows dimensions and extreme detail about the footings.