Start a Residential Floor Plan

Designing floor plans is a key step in any construction project. Each project is different, but there are general rules of thumb that are necessary for any project. As the project's complexity increases, so does the floor plan development's complexity, but all the fundamentals remain the same. This article will show you how to create a simple single-family home floor plan.


  1. Gather the information required to start designing the floor plan. For this illustration, the United States requirements for a single-family house will be used to create a floor plan.
    • An average-sized single family home in the U.S has:
      • An area of 2,700SF
      • Interior measurements of 45'x60'
      • One story
      • A garage
      • Foyer/mudroom (36 SF)
      • Dining room (182 SF)
      • Kitchen (117 SF)
      • Bathroom (58.5 SF),
      • Master bathroom (50 SF)
      • Master bedroom (195 SF)
      • 2 bedrooms (143 SF each)
      • Laundry/utility room (180 SF)
      • Office (120 SF)
      • Breakfast nook (100 SF)
      • Powder room (20 SF).
  2. Use the criteria matrix and adjacencies to organize the data. Go through each room and list room square footage, adjacencies, public access, daylight/views, acoustic privacy, plumbing, special equipment.
    • For example: foyer/mudroom does not require any adjacencies, public access - yes, daylight/views - no, and plumbing - no
    • This data table will be different for each project
  3. Draw a relation diagram of the criteria matrix. Grab sticky notes and a sharpie to draw circles on each sticky note to represent each room in the project. Add the requirements on the sticky notes from the criteria matrix. Draw arrow for daylight/views and squiggly lines for private rooms.
    • For example, the living room needs daylight/views, so add arrows to the corners to indicate the room needs outside views.
  4. Start sorting the sticky notes. Put all the rooms adjacent to each other near one another and put the rooms that need views on the exterior. Try to keep the private and the public spaces that need views on the exterior. Try to keep the private and the public rooms separated from each other.
  5. Trace the outer layer of the sticky notes. Grab a piece of tracing paper to copy the circles on the sticky notes. Look back at the criteria matrix and adjacencies worksheet to connect the rooms by drawing different forms of lines for adjacencies and immediate adjacencies. When drawing various forms of lines to connect the room together, the same shaped lines can not intersect with each other.
    • If the tracing paper does not fit the sticky notes' layout, draw the sticky notes' structure on a piece of paper.
  6. Grab two different colored markers to color the room. Flip the tracing paper over and draw two squares with the different colored markers and label one private and one public. Color, all the private and public spaces with marker based on the colors picked. Flip the tracing paper over to the front side and label all the rooms.
    • Check to see if the private and public rooms are grouped together. Do not mix private rooms in the middle of public spaces and vice-versa.
  7. Draw a rectangle for the diagram. Grab a paper and 1/8-inch architectural scale to draw a 45ft by 60ft rectangle. Get a piece of tracing paper to trace the rectangle using a triangular ruler to get straight lines. Write the 1/8” = 1’ scale at the bottom of the paper.
  8. Create a bubble diagram. On the tracing paper, draw a bubble for each room relative to the size of the room inside the rectangle. Label the rooms after drawing the circular bubbles.
  9. Create a block diagram. Put a piece of tracing paper on top of the bubble diagram and tape the tracing paper's corners with drafting tape. Trace the shell of the rectangle and start squaring the circles from the bubble diagram. Develop circulation space(s) by leaving space for the hallway(s). Label and use the same colors for private and public to color the rooms.
    • Remove the bubble diagram after developing the blocking diagram to see it clearly.
  10. Draw the floor plan. Grab a clean piece of tracing paper, tape the paper's corners with drafting tape, and draw the rectangle's outer shell. Draw the room sizes based on the criteria matrix and adjacencies worksheet. After labeling the rooms, add:
    • windows in the center of all exterior rooms
    • A toilet in the bathrooms and from the toilet center; there should be 18 inches of space on both sides of the toilet.
    • Optional: add furniture and appliances to the rooms


  • Write the scale on the drawings
  • The layout of the plan can change during each process
  • Circulation paths through rooms should be avoided
  • Bathrooms should be convenient for all room in a one-bedroom house
  • Halls should be kept short and to a minimum; they should not occupy more than 10% of the plans total area
  • Living rooms should not have through traffic to other rooms
  • The main outside entry should not open directly into the living room; a hall or a foyer should act as a buffer
  • When locating doors, consider swing directions and furniture placement

Things You'll Need

  • Pen/Pencil
  • Sharpie
  • Colored Markers
  • 8.5"x11" paper
  • Sticky Notes
  • Tracing Paper
  • Drafting Tape
  • Architectural Scale
  • Triangle/Straightedge