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Design Inspo

How Can I Find a Floor Plan for My House?

Find out how to get the floor plan to your home and use that layout to redesign any room (or your entire house) to your personal style and taste. 

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Love them or hate them, floor plans are essential. Working without them can lead to disaster (or an extremely difficult start to a design project).

Take, for instance, the Usen Castle dormitory at Brandeis. After being denied the blueprints for an Irish castle he so admired, Dr. John Hall Smith decided to build it outside-in based on drawings of the exterior. His well-intentioned ideas led to lopsided rooms, confusing passageways, and a secret room or two. While secret rooms are actually cool, knowing the floor plan before we surge forward is essential to a stylish and safe build, ensuring we utilize all our space the best we can. 

Before entering the world of interior design and decor, you have to know what you’re working with. So let’s start from the beginning!

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A floor plan is a blueprint of the basic layout and dimensions of a room or whole building. It’s one of the building blocks that’s required to start nearly any home creation or renovation project. Without a floor plan, projects are likely to be disjointed and may end up with architectural problems. 

Where Do I Find Existing Floor Plans?

Most of our junk drawers are filled with dull scissors, two screws of unknown origin, and a proprietary charging cable to your dad’s camcorder from 2004 — not your home’s blueprints. You’d think something as simple as a floor plan would be handed over to you during your home’s closing day, but that’s not always the case. Luckily, there are a few ways to get blueprints. 

Contact Your Local Planning Office or Permit Agency

Not all home renovation projects require a permit. However, a new build or large overhaul to the structure of the home is definitely something your local city government wants to know about. Building permits vary — different types are needed for projects like solar improvements, electrical wiring changes, skylight installation, and more.

If your property has an HOA, don’t forget to consult the bylaws and your HOA representative to avoid problems. The last thing you want happening is finding out you’re not allowed to install hardwood flooring after the contractor hammers in the last nail. 

While it varies state by state, you should likely be able to access your home’s records. For example, in California, The California Public Records Act lets public citizens access home records; some are even available online. You might be charged a few cents — but that knowledge is priceless. 

Research Old Fire Maps

Fire insurance maps, many dating back to the 1870s, might have what you’re looking for. Hopefully, your local city hall will have a copy of these maps.

In their heyday, fire insurance maps were intended to provide more general details, including building materials and 3D outlines of existing and new homes in the neighborhood. While you likely won’t be able to see interior detailing, like the dining room square footage, the maps can still be a helpful starting point.

The outline of the home’s exterior can reveal pertinent information on the original frame, windows, patio, and doors. The scale of the map might be able to offer insight as well. Most fire maps were submitted on a scale of one inch to 50 feet (1:600), but the map you’re looking at can tell you more.

Lucky homeowners can find a copy of their original fire map in the Sanborn Map Collection. You would be surprised by what records are preserved and how useful and accurate they can be. They can even sometimes give insight into factors like your foundation and property lines. It’s time to get a mini-history lesson and nerd out on your home.

Why Do You Need a Floor Plan?

Without a floor plan and blueprints, you are giving your contractors and designers more work than necessary to do their jobs. Commissions and appraisals will take longer, and delays will be more likely. Floor plans also give you an expedited pathway to getting your designs and ideas organized. 

Having a floor plan in hand before designing ensures you don’t fall in love with a sectional that doesn’t actually fit in the room. 

With Spoak’s interior design floor plan and visualization tools, you can visualize your spaces without needing advanced knowledge in design software. Spoak is intuitive, user-friendly, and even allows you to upload your own images of art, furniture, and much more. 

You no longer have to gamble on pieces of decor and just hope that they look as good as your imagination made them out to be. 

floor plan layout
A floor plan designed with Spoak's design tools

What Are the Most Common Types of Floor Plans?

Floor plans and styles generally come in two basic formats in North America: open concept and closed concept. Open concept is considered more contemporary, while closed has often been considered antiquated but is making a big resurgence.

Both of these floor plan types can come in a variety of styles listed below:

Open-Floor Plans vs. Closed-Floor Plans

The open floor plan started trending in the 1950s and is still going strong. Open-floor home plans are beloved for their airy feel, multifunctional capabilities, and ease of communication. On the flip side, an open floor plan design can make it tricky to organize clutter, maintain privacy, and heat/cool. 

If your home floor plan is a Craftsman or perhaps a Ranch house, you might be a die-hard open floor plan fan. 

Closed floor plans, while once synonymous with Victorian-era homes and the Jazz Age, are having a resurgence in modern homes. In the wake of COVID-19, buyers are looking for a tad more privacy — or at least a separate home office space. New plans in this style still have a great room and shared living space but with a few more closed-off eras. If you cozy up in a cottage-style home or a farmhouse, you might be the proud owner of a closed-floor plan. 

Floor Plans of Common Home Styles

Every stick-built new house is unique, and even in the cases of track housing in the suburbs, building plans can differ slightly.

Despite that, house hunters often see a few common house designs:

  • Cottage-Style: Cottage house plan designs tend to feature closed floor plans with plenty of extra storage space. Balconies, porches, and bay windows offer a chance to bring some nature into the main living spaces. Iconic details like low-pitched gable roofs, asymmetrical silhouettes, and cedar shingles delight the imagination. 
  • Craftsman: If your realtor shows you cedar shakes and shiplap, you likely are looking at a Craftsman. With one to two small to mid-sized stories, this is one of the most popular home designs in the United States. 
  • Farmhouse: You’re as likely to find farmhouse plans in the city as you are in the countryside. The farm-style home design generally features a wrap-around porch on the first story, with all the bedrooms on the second story. Entryways tend to be more formal than in typical modern house plans. 
  • Ranch House: Ranch house plans can vary widely but tend to have a few shared traits between their blueprints. They are usually single-story, feature a patio, and have lovely shallow gable roofs. 

How To Design Your Dream Home

Spoak can help guide you with your pre-existing floor plan or help you develop a whole new floor plan from scratch with easy-to-use tools that let you instantly create walls and layouts.

Photo Credit: (Left) Dezeen


Are Building Permits Public Information in California? | Home Guides | SF Gate

Craftsman house style: what is it, and how to achieve it | Homes & Gardens

About this Collection | Sanborn Maps | Digital Collections | Library of Congress

How to Find the Plans or Blueprints to Your Old House | The Spruce

After Years of Open-Plan Living, How Has Covid Affected Floor Layouts? | Barron's

Usen Castle – Waltham, Massachusetts | Atlas Obscura

Open Floor Plan: History, Pros and Cons | The Spruce

Take design by the horns and make your dream home a reality with Spoak’s intuitive floor plan tool.

Date Posted
April 17, 2023



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