How Home Floor Plans Work

House floor plan, digital rendering.
House floor plan, digital rendering.
Dieter Spannknebel/Digital Vision/­Getty Images

­Investing in a newly built home is a large undertaking, both emotionally and financially. When dealing with a project of this magnitude, you should prepare yourself as much as possible. One of the first tasks you'll come across is creating the home's floor plan.

A floor plan is a scale diagram or drawing of a room or building from an overhead perspective. These plans will vary greatly from house to house, depending on the specific needs and preferences of the inhabitants. A blueprint is a more detailed, exact scale drawing of your plan. The blueprint shows the foundation (plus footing and framing), roof, and an electric and kitchen plan with detailed construction notes beyond the basic floor plan -- it acts as the contractor's instructions.


­When drawing up a floor plan for your new home, you should consider the following fa­ctors:

What are your individual lifestyle needs? Do you have a family or pets, or are you considering them in the future? Do you entertain guests, and will they need places to sleep? Where do you think you and others will spend the most time within the house?

What are your individual privacy needs? Your house's shape, for one, can add a higher level of privacy. You'll also want to consider your privacy needs as you plan for windows.

Will you need designated work rooms? Many people need or want home offices or laundry rooms.

In what style will you be decorating the home? The layout should work with to how you're going to use and decorate each room. If you plan on having a large sectional sofa, you'll need a space large enough to accommodate it [source: House Designers].

Your new house might be a site-built home, constructed right on the grounds. You could also be ordering a mobile home or a modular home. For information on these two types of housing and the floor plans that go with them, head to the next two sections of the article.


Mobile Home Floor Plans

Ah, life on the road. Maybe this is a concept that appeals to you. Being with the ones you love, choosing to pick up and move to a new area without having to pack or house-hunt. You simply lock all the doors and windows and drive your home to the new destination. But a home this versatile calls for some pretty­ hefty planning.

With mobile homes, contractors and owners are dealing with many more constrictions than with a site-built home. They have to fit everything into small quarters. Now, sure, some of the huge recreational vehicles don't seem too cramped, but everything still has to fit and be very space-efficient.


Besides accounting for the limited size of a mobile home, the planners need to build a sturdy foundation and support system that allows for tires and a gas tank, not to mention on-the-go plumbing. Instead of planning for water pipes to drain into sewers and septic tanks, they must plan small tanks within the home that the owners can easily drain or clean. They must allow for hookups to electrical outlets and water lines so these moving homes can be complete.

Check out the next page for information on modular home plans.


Modular Home Floor Plans

­It can be frustrating waiting for home construction to wrap. It gets pricey, too. You've been paying­ the crew and buying materials, piecing it all together little by little. And if you­ live near the construction site, you sure won't miss those 6 a.m. hammer-and-saw wakeup calls. That's why many people turn to modular homes.

Modular homes are built in sections (or modules) at a factory and then moved to the home site. This cuts down on the on-site construction, making it more cost-efficient. At one time or another, you've probably gotten stuck behind one of the wide-load trucks with a half-finished house on the back. That's a piece of someone's modular home.


The floor plans for these homes must vary from the norm to accommodate their transportation and final construction needs. They have to be organized in a way that the house can be easily broken down into sections small enough to fit onto the back of a truck. This often results in narrow rooms and a lot of support structures. At the same time, these homes still need to accommodate their future dwellers. Drawing out plans specific to both needs can be a challenge, but modular homes have proven to be a popular means of home ownership.

So you understand floor plans a bit better now, as well as the difference between homes built on-site, mobile homes and modular homes. Now the next time you need to move, you can make an informed decision and take an active role in forming any necessary floor plans.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Cool House Plans. "How to Calculate the total Heated Squared Footage of a House Plan." (Accessed 12/18/2008).
  • Free Dictionary, the. "floor plan." (Accessed 12/18/2008)
  • House Designers, the. "Choosing the Right House Plan." (Accessed 12/17/2008).
  • House Designers, the. "Online House Designs -- Modifications & Customization of House Plans." (Accessed 12/17/2008)
  • House Designers, the. "Understanding Blueprints." (Accessed 12/17/2008).
  • Manufactured Housing Institute. "The Definition of a Manufactured Home." (Accessed 12/17/2008).