How to Draw Architect Plans for a House

Most people dream of owning their own house, and many desire to design this house.

House plans require a great deal of time and expertise.House plans require a great deal of time and expertise.
Architectural drawings are the first step to having a unique, custom home. These drawings show how the house is composed, as well as the location and orientation of the interior rooms. Traditionally, architects prepare the drawings, but many cities and towns allow the homeowner to put the design together. You can make architectural drawings with traditional pencil and vellum or use computer programs available at big-box stores or over the Internet.

Check with the building department for the permit drawing requirements. A permit set usually requires plans, elevations, sections and structural details. Many municipalities require an architect, so you may not be able to draw the permit plans without a licensed professional.

Determine what rooms you would like to have in your house. When you are listing the rooms to include, don't forget necessary closets and storage.

Calculate the required square footage for each of the rooms. For example, a small bedroom may only need 100 square feet, but a master bedroom may require more than 200 square feet.

Determine the style and materials you would like for your house. You may prefer a Victorian house, which requires wood clapboard and extensive detailing. However, you may prefer a colonial style, which is composed of brick. There are many styles to choose from, so research the options before you begin your design.

Determine the scale you will draw the plans. The permit department usually has suggested scales. Often, house plans are drawn at 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch equals 1 foot. This means 1 foot of distance is equal to 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch on paper. These standard scales can be drawn using a ruler, but you may want to purchase an architectural scale available at office and art supply stores.

Draw the plans of the house. Remember to size the windows and doors correctly. Use your existing residence for examples of door and window sizes. Doors and windows come in standard sizes, so you can copy the dimensions in your space. Include dimensions on the drawings for the building department and the contractor.

Draw the elevations from the plans. The elevations are the faces or facades of the house. You can pull the widths for the elevations from your plans. These elevations are usually on a separate sheet from the plans, and they require a standard scale, such as 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch equals a foot.

Draw any required sections or details. Sections are drawings that reveal how your house is constructed, and they look as if you cut your house in two in order to show the structure of the house. Details show how your home's elements are assembled or finished. Both sections and details require standard scales from 1/4 inch to 6 inches equals a foot. The larger scale allows more detail to be included in the drawings.

Things You Will Need

  • Architectural design software
  • Pen or pencil
  • Vellum


  • If you do not have experience with drafting or knowledge about house construction, look for classes at local community colleges or technical schools.


  • Architecture is a profession, and it requires many years of education and experience. Although many states allow unlicensed designers to create drawings for the construction of buildings, there are serious consequences, including death or injury, that can occur when designing a structure without a professional.

About the Author

Ryan Crooks is a licensed architect with 15 years experience in residential, institutional, healthcare and commercial design. Crooks is also an instructor, teaching architecture to high school and college students. He has written hundreds of articles for various websites.