How to read a floor plan , plus abbreviations and symbols

House plans like floor plans, site plans, elevations and other architectural diagrams  are generally pretty self explanatory - but the devil's often in the details. It's not always easy to make an educated guess about what a particular abbreviation or symbol might mean.

To help make things a bit easier, we've put together a cheat sheet to explain many of the more common abbreviations and symbols:


House plan abbreviations

AB Air brick
AL Aluminium
AP Acoustic plaster
ASPH Asphalt
AT Acoustic tile
B Basin
BAL Balustrades
BC Book case
BHD Bulkhead over
B/I Built-in
BK Brick
BV Brick veneer
BWK Brickwork
C Cooker
CAB Cabinet
CBD / CPD Cupboard
CD Clothes dryer
CF Concrete floor
COL Column
CORR Corrugated
CR Cement render
CT Ceramic tile
CW Cavity wall
D Door
DG Double glazing
DH Double hung (windows)
DP Downpipe
DPC / DPM Damp-proof course / damp-proof membrane
DW Dishwasher
FA Floor area
FB Face brick
FCL Finished ceiling level
FFL Finished floor level
FL Floor level (note: the floor level is provided as a figure relative to a datum, or universal reference point)
FW Floor waste
GM Gas meter
GPO General purpose outlet (i.e. power point)
HTR Heater
HW Hot water unit
INSUL Insulation
KIT Kitchen
LIN Linen cupboard
LINO Linoleum
LVR Louvres
M Meter
MSB Master switch board
O Oven
PBD Plasterboard
R / REFRIG Refrigerator
RL Reduced level
RS Roller shutter
RWH Rainwater head
RWP Rainwater pipe
RWT Rainwater tank
SC Stop cock
SD Sewer drain
SD Sliding door
SHR Shower
SS Stainless steel
TC Terra cotta
TEL Telephone
TRZO Terrazzo
TV Television
U/G Underground
U/S Underside
V Vinyl
VENT Ventilator
VP Vent pipe
W(number) Window - Basix window number
WB Weatherboard
WC Water closet
WM Washing machine
WR Wardrobe


Plan view: annotations

Job datum level Job datum level - indicates the altitude at a specific point, relative to a universal reference point known as a 'datum'.
Special area reference Special area reference - a reference to a separate diagram detailing a special area (numbers indicate which diagram)
Elevation reference Elevation reference - a reference to an elevation diagram (numbers indicate which diagram)
Section reference Section reference - a reference to a separate section diagram (numbers indicate which diagram)
Detail reference Detail reference - a reference to a detail diagram (numbers indicate which diagram)
Window and door reference Window and door references - a reference to specific windown and door diagrams (numbers indicate which diagrams)
Graduated scale Graduated scale - used to indicate the size and scale of objects and structures in the diagram
Compass Compass - shows the orientation of the plan diagram and the structures it depicts
Title block Title block - provides details about the project, the specific plan revision you're looking at, the architect or designer, the date etc.


Plan view - general

Window Window
Single swing door - 90 degrees Single-swing door (90 degrees)
Single swing door - 180 degrees Single-swing door (180 degrees)
Single double acting door Single double-acting door
Pocket or cavity door Pocket / cavity door - a sliding door that slides into the wall cavity
Exposed sliding door Exposed sliding door
Bifold / concertina doors centred on a track Bifold / concertina doors centred on a track
Bifold / concertina doors fixed to one side on a track Bifold / concertina doors fixed to one side on a track
Ramp Ramp - arrow points upwards
Stairs Stairs - arrow points upwards
Fall / drainage Fall / drainage - arrow points downwards, towards floor waste / drain.
Arch Archway
Lintel Lintel
Access hatch Access hatch
Recessed object Recessed object - an object recessed into a particular wall or surface.
Surface mounted object Surface-mounted object - an object mounted directly on a wall or surface.
Free standing object Free-standing object - an object not connected to the adjacent wall or surface.
Object mounted over Object mounted over - an object mounted over the area shown.
Object sittting above the plane of the depicted section - a surface mounted object sitting higher than the plane of the diagram.


Plan view - fittings

Bathtub Bathtub
Shower stall Shower stall - lines in the centre of this diagram indicate drop for drainage.
Basin Basin
Vanity with basin Vanity with basin
Toilet Toilet
Sink with two bowls Sink with two bowls
Sink with one bowl Sink with one bowl
Double tub or trough Double tub or trough
Single tub Single tub or trough
Hotplates Hotplates


Elevation view - doors and windows

Right-side hinged window Right-side hinged window
Side pivoted window Side pivoted window
Top and bottom pivoted window Top and bottom pivoted window
Top hinged window Top hinged window
Bottom hinged window Bottom hinged window
Horizontal sliding window with fixed sash Horizontal sliding window with fixed sash
Vertical sliding sash window Vertical sliding sash window
Left hinged door Left hinged door
Double doors hinged at left and right jambs Double doors hinged at left and right jambs
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