Every construction worker needs to know how to read blueprints, so no one is going to be able to skip this step for their job. In fact, anyone that tries to skip this step is going to find that their work will not be done properly, nor will they ever be good at their job. Therefore, every tradesman, subcontractor, and contractor will need a lesson on reading blueprints before they start their careers.
Blueprints are two dimensional drawings that contain all the details that are needed for the current project. These details are needed to request permits, determine the construction schedule, and eventually do the construction itself.
The first thing that anyone should do when they are reading blueprints is to scan the entire plan and then read all the notes and specifications that are included. From there, everyone can focus on all the specifics, because they will be aware of the basics.
The plan views are the basic views that people will see as they look down at the horizontal plane. These plans can be civil plan drawings, floor plan drawings, roof plan drawings, structural plan drawings, and even plumbing, electrical, and mechanical plan drawings. Each one will focus on the specific items included within those scopes of work and they are all drawn to different scales. Professional contractors will need to know how to read each one and then put the pieces together during the building process.
Since each plan has a different scale, contractors are encouraged to make sure they are using the correct scale and that the scale is done correctly on the plans too. It is quite common for any changes to be done off-scale, because they are being done quickly to avoid interruptions in the project. However, those changes can cause issues when they are not done to scale, because they will not be built pr incorporated the way that they should be.
The elevations of blueprints are the side views that show the exterior walls of the building. These are almost always noted as being south, north, west, and east, but contractors should double check them to make sure that they are correct or add the information if it is missing.
This part of the blueprints will also show all the gutters, downspouts, windows, doors, and roof lines of the building and describe the materials that will be used for the entire outside. The tricky part will be viewing these with the interior elevations on the same drawing, which includes countertops, cabinets, walls, and more.
Many contractors will assume that every elevation is listed on blueprints, but often times, this is not the case. It is important to compare both the elevations and the floor plans so nothing gets missed.
The sections of blueprints are where contractors will see the cross sections of the building. They show the studs, the insulation, sheathing, and how the wall will connect to the floor or the foundation. The dimensions of the cabinets, countertops, and more can also be found within the sections and they are important to take note of. Every section is cross referenced on the plan views, so that the person reading the blueprints will know where each one came from.
Schedules are also included within blueprints and each one has more specific information than what can be found on the plan. For example, the floor plan may have a door number or mark on it, but contractors can find the corresponding information that they need for it under the attached door schedule.
One of the hardest things that anyone reading blueprints will encounter is all the abbreviations that are on them. There are hundreds of different abbreviations and symbols that are used, and they are not always universally used either. One architect or engineer may use one symbol for an object on one plan, while the same architect or engineer will use a different one for the same object on a different plan. Of course, there are also symbols for the materials that are being used throughout the building, as well as the utilities.
Thankfully, there is often a key of the abbreviations and symbols that are used. This ensures that everyone knows what is being referred to on each one of the drawings.
Blueprints are tricky to read, but with time, everyone in the construction industry will be able to read them easily and quickly. In fact, many workers will even spot errors before they become an issue, which is always helpful to those who do not want to lose money on a project or go past their deadline.
Anyone who is starting out in this field will want to either take a class on how to read blueprints or have a professional teach them. Their success depends on these skills!