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Learn the details of Blueprints Understand how information is conveyed in a set of Construction DocumentsUnderstand how information is conveyed in a set of Construction DocumentsUnderstand how information is conveyed in a set of Construction Documents

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Blueprint Reading -- Understand the Building Around You Blueprint Reading - Core Curriculum Classes What is the Blueprint Reading Class all about?

What is Blueprint Reading ?

Blueprint Reading enables students to understand the various types of blueprints, shop prints and schematics used in a construction and/or facilities environment.

By learning to read blueprints, students discover how to comprehend, andinterpret the different types of standard symbols and abbreviations found on construction drawings. We also spend a fair amount of time describing the information required on drawings in order to be processed through the City or County agencies.


Plans are often for technical purposes such as architecture, engineering, or planning. Their purpose in these disciplines is to accurately and unambiguously capture all the geometric features of a site, building, product or component. Plans can also be for presentation or orientation purposes, and as such are often less detailed versions of the former. The end goal of plans is either to portray an existing place or object, or to convey enough information to allow a builder or manufacturer to realize a design.
The term "plan" may casually be used to refer to a single view, sheet, or drawing in a set of plans. More accurately, plan refers to an orthographic projection looking down on the object, such as in a plan view, floor plan or bird's-eye view.
The process of producing plans, and the skill of producing them, is often referred to as technical drawing.

Document Set Features

Plans are often prepared in a "set". The set includes all the information required for the purpose of the set, and may exclude views or projections which are unnecessary. A set of plans can be on standard office-sized paper or on large sheets. It can be stapled, folded or rolled as required. A set of plans can also take the form of a digital file in a proprietary format such as DWG or an exchange file format such as DXF or PDF.

Plans are often referred to as "blueprints" or "bluelines". However, the terms are rapidly becoming an anachronism, since most copies of plans that were formerly made using a chemical-printing process that yielded graphics on blue-colored paper or, alternatively, of blue-lines on white paper, have been superseded by more modern reproduction processes that yield black or multicolour lines on white paper.

Plans are usually "scale drawings", meaning that the plans are drawn at specific ratio relative to the actual size of the place or object. Various scales may be used for different drawings in a set. For example, a floor plan may be drawn at 1:50 (or 1/4"=1'-0") whereas a detailed view may be drawn at 1:25 (or 1/2"=1'-0"). Site plans are often drawn at 1:200 or 1:100.

Views and projections
Because plans represent three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional plane, the use of views or projections is crucial to the legibility of plans. Each projection is achieved by assuming a vantage point from which to see the place or object, and a type of projection. These projection types are:
* Orthographic projection, including:
* Plan view or floor plan view
* Elevation, usually a 'head-on' view of an exterior
* Section, a cutaway view of the interior
* Axonometric projection, including:
* Isometric projection
* Dimetric projection
* Trimetric projection
* Oblique projection, and
* Perspective projection

Assembling Sets of Drawings
There is no universal standard for sheet order, however the following describes a common approach:

General Information: The first sheets in a set may include notes, assembly descriptions, a rendering of the project, or simply the project title.

Site: Site plans, including a key plan, appear before other plans and on smaller projects may be on the first sheet. A projects could require a landscape plan, although this can be integrated with the site plan if the drawing remains clear.

Specific plans: Floor plans, starting with the lowest floor and ending with the roof plan usually appear near the beginning of the set. Further, for example, reflected Ceiling Plans (RCP)s showing ceiling layouts appear after the floor plans.

Elevations: Starting with the principal, or front elevation, all the building elevations appear after the plans. Smaller residential projects may display the elevations before the plans. Elevation details may appear on the same sheets as the building elevations.

Sections: Building sections that describe views cut through the entire building appear next, followed by wall sections, then detail sections.

Details: Details may appear on any of the previous sheets, or may be collected to appear on detail sheets. These details may include construction details that show how the components of the building fit together. These details may also include millwork drawings or other interior details.

Many aspects of a building must be scheduled on larger projects. These include schedules for windows, doors, hardware, landscaping elements, rooms, and areas.

More aspects are, for example:

Structural: While smaller projects may only show structural information on the plans and sections, larger projects have separate sheets describing the structure of the building.

Mechanical: Mechanical drawings show plumbing and heating systems.

Electrical: Again, many electrical layouts are shown on the floor plans, however larger projects have this information on separate sheets.

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