From Our Design Team: How to Read a Set of Plans

Barrel Vault Floor Plan-1

A custom set of plans includes a vast amount of detail, including abbreviations, dimensions, styles and types of materials, ceiling heights, design and more. As our design team dives into your vision of a home with these details, it is helpful for the homeowner to be familiar with some of our most commonly used nomenclature. Read further to familiarize yourself with the various abbreviations, notations, and legends that you'll find in Kurk Homes' custom floor plans.


Ceiling Heights & Details

Do you want a Specialty Ceiling or want to see Options? Ceiling breaks and changes are noted by dashed lines or SLP (meaning slope) for a vaulted ceiling. A recessed tray ceiling would have a dashed line, indicating an upward change in height, following the shape of the room: rectangular, square, dome, oval, octagonal or custom-shaped, we've done them all. Here's an example of a beautiful barrel vault ceiling in a foyer with a tongue-and-groove stained pine application.


A barrel vaulted ceiling has several dashed lines parallel to each other, indicating a rounded ceiling treatment.
Barrel Vault Floor Plan-1

Below is a design of a recessed tray ceiling. The base ceiling height of the room is 10' and the dashed line of the box designates the ceiling change in height to 11' tall.
recessed tray-2
This recessed tray follows the shape of the living room: 

Vaults & Columns

Groin Vault and Arch Detail
A double tray would have two parallel sets of dashed shapes, one inserted symmetrically inside of the other. A vaulted ceiling has a dashed line in the center. A double dashed line in a vaulted ceiling indicates a structural beam, wrapped in cedar, pine, or sheetrock.
CLG stands for ceiling height, noted for either the full room or the base plate (edge of room) if the ceiling is vaulted or has a tray application.
Arches separating rooms are noted by the same feet-inch diagram as windows and doors, with the width first in feet and inches then the height in the same sequence.


Door & Window Sizes

Door Examples

When listed on the plan, door sizes are listed width first, then height in width (feet inches) by height (feet inches). A 3080 door is 3 feet 0 inches wide by 8 feet 0 inches tall. By comparison, a 2868 door is 2' 8" or 2 feet 8 inches wide and 6' by 8" (6 feet 8 inches) tall. A window is noted the same way; for example, a 4016 window is 4'0 wide by 1'6" tall.

Door Type: An active door is the one door of a double door set that consistently opens. The other will open, but will need to be unlatched from the top and bottom to do so.

Solid core doors, noted as S.C., are doors to the exterior or attic, including a weather threshold and a lock. The design of a solid core door can be solid, matching the interior doors, full lite (a full glass door), French or "DL" meaning divided lite (the appearance of symmetrical window panes or mullions on the glass of the door), half lite (appears to be a fixed window on the top half of the door), or a Dutch door, in which the top half and bottom half of the door can open independently.

Door and Window Explanation

Window Details

"H.H." refers to the header height of the window, the height of the top of the window. If 8'8" H.H. is noted, the top of the window is measured at 8'8". SH or DH means single- or double-hung window, operable by either the bottom panel or both the top and bottom for a double-hung window. In contrast, FX means a fixed or non-operable window. Tempered is a window application preventing shattering upon impact. Instead, the window will "spider" and homeowners are protected from shards of glass. Windows that are placed within door swings, or are low to the floor are required by code to be tempered.

Butted Glass and more

Mulled windows are two separate windows that each have a seam, affixed to each other. In contrast, butted glass, as shown in the picture below, are large sheets of glass that are joined together with a clear silicone seam.


Need some more window inspiration? Click here to read our Windows of the Home article with pictures and definitions of different window designs!

Wall Details on Preliminary Plans

As the design team is developing a set of plans for a homeowner, the walls are noted for different thicknesses by the width of the wall on the plan. See below for the 2x4 interior walls, garage walls, and 2x6 living exterior walls and plumbing walls.

Preliminary Wall Sizes

Wall Details on Final Plans

Using the "Wall Legend" provided on final plans, different wall thicknesses are noted. See below for 2x4 interior living and garage walls, 2x6 living exterior walls, and 2x6 interior plumbing walls. 

Wall Detail on Final Plans

Flooring Notes

Conc. means concrete, non-decorative as part of the foundation or flatwork pour. St Conc is stained concrete. Cpt stands for carpet. Tile and Wood are written out. Wood decking is typical for elevated balconies. LVT is a vinyl tile product that is made to look like wood.

Can't decide what to choose? Here's an article on wood-look flooring options.



Cabinetry, Built-ins and Sink Types

Apron (also referred to as farmhouse) or undermount kitchen and utility sinks are noted on plans, and shapes for vanity sinks are noted as undermount or vessel. Cabinetry is designated by a thin box, whether it is surrounding sinks, appliances, or as an island and perimeter of the kitchen. Cabinetry can also be noted as a smaller rectangle to signify a linen cabinet (humorously referred to as a head-knocker) above a commode. Knee-space under a vanity is noted as K.S. when there isn't enough room to write it out.

Built-ins are signified on plans in a similar way, by a box with text to designate the purpose: desk, bench with lockers, floating shelves, etc.  Trim details and depth of shelves, number of shelves and racks are listed on closets such as 1R; 1S translating to 1 closet rod under 1 shelf in a coat closet versus 2 or more rods and shelves in bedroom closets.

Cabinetry & Sink Design

Exterior Elevations

The curb view as well as sides and rear views of the home are noted on the exterior elevations. Trim details such as cedar shutters, wrapped trusses, and material are called out as well as metal and shingle roofing and masonry material (brick, James Hardie siding or board and batten, stone, and stucco). The related brick ledge is also noted for the lower portion of the facade to be wrapped in natural stone or full size brick. 

Exterior Diagram-1

Interior Elevations

More detail is called out on the plan between the development of preliminary and final plans. Kitchen cabinet design as far as hood vent type and cabinetry doors and drawer banks are noted on the interior elevations, as well as cabinetry and built-ins. These are helpful for the cabinet company to make preliminary designs that will be finalized with field measurements and exact appliance model numbers. 

Interior Elevations

Electrical and Plumbing Notes

Below is a legend the Kurk Homes design team uses to designate certain elements of the floor plan. If noted as "Opt.," this feature is not included in the price and is posed more as a question to the homeowner if they would like to add that feature to the home. 



3D? Virtual Reality? Augmented Reality? We occasionally receive special requests for 3D versions of exteriors or interiors for an intricate feature or overall flow that the homeowner is having trouble visualizing. There have been amazing strides in recent years for virtual reality and augmented reality as well. We can certainly accomplish these goals with some extra design hours and services to add this peace of mind to our homeowners. 


Kurk Homes is proud to offer superior quality-constructed custom homes with a 20-year warranty. We take pride in providing our clients with a “no surprises” policy by maintaining constant communication throughout the building process. Whether building from an existing plan, a Southern Living Plan,  or consulting with our talented Design Team to plan your dream home from scratch, we take pride in going above and beyond to make your dream home a dream building experience as well. 

Contact us today to discuss building your custom home!

Tags: custom home, architectural