Cryptic Blueprints Are Key To Success

By Glover Paul

Before a contractor begins working on a major home improvement project, he (or she) will generally draw up a blueprint of the project’s plan – depending on how difficult the job is. For example, hanging drywall wouldn’t need an extensive blueprint but a project as large adding on an extra room or building a garage would. As you’ve probably already guessed, building something like a garage requires clearly defined measurements and that’s one of the key elements that a blueprint provides: exact measurements.

What makes a blueprint foreign to most of us is the whole design of it. After all, a blueprint looks nothing like the finished product. In fact, it looks rather bizarre – filled with thin lines, numbers, and tiny type. But this cryptic form of art, otherwise known as an engineering drawing, is what directs your contractor to build your extra room or garage exactly the way you want it.

What Puts The ‘Blue’ In ‘Blueprint’

The very name of these drawings is derived from the fact that in the past, plans were printed on blue paper. The contrast of white type against a blue hue made them easier to read.

Constructor Code Explained


With a specialized code, a Blueprint uses symbolism to communicate with your builders. For instance, different styles of lines represent different aspects of the project. A plainly visible line for example indicates a visible edge of something like a wall corner or a countertop. A hidden line on the other hand, represents an edge that are not seen in the final project.

Today’s blueprints even incorporate color as a way to communicate to its reader. Using our edge example from above, red indicates a hidden edge while black represent a showing edge.

The Many Views of A Blueprint

What makes blueprints particularly difficult for the non-contractor to decipher is the angle that they represent. Basically, a blueprint will depict an idea from six different views:

a. the back

b. the bottom

c. the front

d. the left

e. the right

f. the top

That may seem simple enough, however a blueprint will exhibit these views as either an x-ray (where the top is under the front and the right is at the left), or a Third Angle Projection (where things are fairly represented in their true state). What makes them even more confusing is when a single idea is rendered in multiple views. This is why contractors spend a considerable amount of time learning how to interpret and draw blueprints.

But contractors aren’t the only ones who know how to interpret blueprints. Before you have any major work done on your property, chances are you you’ll need a building permit. As part of the process in getting a building permit, you’re going to have to show the blueprint of your project for approval.

It may seem like a hassle to get a building permit, especially when you feel that your project is minor and doesn’t affect anyone else in your community. But the truth is that city ordinances want to make sure that your construction plans don’t bring down the property value of the community you live in and that they follow laws. Having a blueprint in hand while applying for a building permit facilitates this pesky part of your plans.

About the Author: Paul White represents

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