Back to Basics: Decoding Project Blueprints
Back to Basics: Decoding Project Blueprints

Back to Basics: Decoding Project Blueprints


Be part of our exclusive Construction Professional list and get exclusive discounts and monthly executive summary

* indicates required
( ) - (###) ###-####
Subscription to Newsletter


* indicates required
Subscription to Newsletter *
* indicates required
Subscription to Newletter *

If you are in the construction business, one of the most essential skills to master is understanding an important document in any project— blueprints. 

Construction blueprints outline a project’s entire plan, and learning how to read blueprints is crucial. Almost every designer and contractor prepares blueprints in a certain phase of the project lifecycle, and those who do not properly decipher blueprints fail. 

In this article, we will circle back to the basics and master construction blueprints. Let’s keep it simple.

What are Construction Blueprints?

Ultimately, a construction blueprint is a detailed 2D depiction of the information necessary to finish a project. The blueprint reflects the building design, the specifications to comply with, the materials used, and key features such as doors, windows, and walls.

If you plan to undertake construction management, you need to know how to comprehend blueprints. Skipping this step will lead to poor quality or even wrong execution of work on site. We typically make construction blueprints in the planning stage of the preconstruction phase. The blueprints come in handy if you’re considering modifications and rectification work. Following dimension guidelines also guarantees work progresses efficiently and helps deal with cost overruns and project delays.

What Can You Find in Construction Blueprints?

Blueprints are usually hard to read as they have pages of content that show different parts and aspects of a construction project. Project architects and engineers consistently format them to make them easier to decipher, regardless of the project’s size, type, and location. The common components in every construction blueprint are the following:

  • Title Block
  • Site Development Plan
  • Location Map
  • Lot Plan with Coordinates
  • Architectural Floor Plan
  • Elevation and Section Plan
  • Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Firefighting System (MEPFS) Plan
  • Structural Drawings
  • Specifications and Diagrams
  • Plans Approvers and Signature

These blueprint elements have symbols, scales, and abbreviations to make them easier to decode. The blueprints include additional details such as building codes, scheduling, and building permit approval.

Knowing that there are many elements involved in creating blueprints, proper construction crew scheduling is crucial to ensure that the trades have a proper grasp on where teams will enter the planning stage. Structural plans are hinged in the architectural plans, MEPFS comes before the specifications and diagrams, and so forth.

Why are Construction Blueprints Important?

We cannot underestimate the importance of construction blueprints in our industry. They carry a lot of specifications and information of projects. Correctly implementing them well enhances the functionality of the project and helps professionals meet project objectives.

The key idea behind blueprints is that they are part of the planning phase and are used to give a realistic visualization of the project. They are well-informed and well-coordinated to help reduce misunderstandings in a project, and it is helpful to integrate them into construction manpower scheduling software. This way, teams can effectively delegate which part of the blueprint should be executed by certain individuals.

Construction blueprints detail the procedures, methodology, and principles needed to complete the project. They also show the essential course of action of building construction elements. These will help you countercheck your compliance with the specifications and regulations for the specific construction project.

Construction blueprints allow for efficient project operation by providing the contractors with condensed information on paper. They are an excellent reference for future use in troubleshooting and eventual maintenance.

What are the Types of Construction Blueprints?

Various types of blueprints are used in the project lifecycle. Some are particular to a few construction phases, and some are used from beginning to completion. The most common types of blueprints are architectural, mechanical, and structural plans.

1. Architectural 

The architectural blueprint shows the overall appearance of a structure from inside to outside. It depicts the project orientation and the layout of the rooms. The drawings you’ll find in the architectural blueprint are the site development, floor, ceiling, elevations, sections, and detailed illustrations.

The site development plan, or SDP, is a map that reflects the structure’s orientation on the parcel of land. This drawing also depicts the lot’s property lines, landscape features, power lines, driveways, water lines, perimeter fencing, and other structures actually present on site.

The floor plan reflects an aerial view of the structure cut from about four feet off the floor level, and it provides a layout of features such as walls, windows, and doors. Meanwhile, the ceiling plan gives information on the placement of the ceiling, detailed dimensions, and material schedules in construction projects.

Some aspects of a project are highlighted and featured in detailed drawings to teach the contractors how to construct them. The elevations and section plans show the vertical structure layout and how it appears from the front, back, top, or next to it. On the other hand, sectional drawings reflect how the building would look if you cut through the cross-sections of some area of the structure.

2. Structural 

Once the architectural drawings are finalized, the architect forwards them to the structural engineer, who creates the structural drawings. Structural drawings, which are hinged from the architectural plans, are shown from the ground up. They reflect the skeleton of the structure and how it frames the structure. They include details on the foundations, walls, slabs, columns, trusses, beams, and roofs. 

While the architectural drawings visually represent the project, the structural plans show how to build the structure so that it will not collapse.

3. Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, and Firefighting System (MEPFS)

The MEPFS part breathes the structure into life. These plans are responsible for the water supply and piping, electrical connections and communication systems, ventilation, and firefighting systems. The MEPFS engineer develops the plans that lay down these technical specifications. Understanding the placement of these systems is essential to leaving gaps for these features.

The Mechanical drawing plans include the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Systems, water systems, exhaust systems, and digital control systems.

The Electrical and Firefighting System plans reflect the requirements for generating and distributing power on-site. It also indicates lighting, wiring, fire protection, and standby power systems.

Lastly, the Plumbing and Sanitary drawings show the complicated sewage and piping routes. The plumbing drawings depict the acid waste piping, natural gas piping, hot and cold water pipelines, and ventilation systems.


What are the Different Blueprint Sheet Labels?


  1. G sheets mean general sheets – These reflect the cover sheet, plans index, and plot plan.
  2. A sheets are architectural plans – These drawings show ceiling plans, structure sections, floor plans, roof plans, and wall sections.
  3. S sheets refer to structural engineering plans – These drawings reflect the foundation, framing, and roof structure plans.
  4. E sheets are for electrical plans – They reflect the location of the electrical fixtures, circuit wiring, and panel boxes. Electrical schematics depict the function of the operational electrical circuit. Wiring diagrams show the physical layout of the wires.
  5. M sheets mean mechanical plans – These drawings contain details about HVAC systems, duct work, control wiring, and refrigerant piping.
  6. P sheets show plumbing plans – These plans reflect the type and location of plumbing in the structure.
  7. L sheets are landscape plans – They show the areas outside the structure and where the plants, shrubs, and trees will be placed.
  8. Door schedule, window schedule, and finish schedule—These schedules describe the size and style of the doors and windows and other project finish deliverables.
  9. Specifications Sheets—Lastly, these show detailed descriptions of the material schedule in construction projects, usually in tabulated form.


What are Different Perspectives in Blueprints?


1. Plan View

This view highlights each storey of the structure, showing the blueprint from the top as a two-dimensional view.

2. Elevation View

These reflect how a structure will look from different sides, such as the front, right, left, and rear. You can find the elevation view as if looking at it directly when standing on even ground.

3. Cross Section

It reflects a structure as if it were vertically sliced in half. This shows beams, girders, and columns with joists and how these fit together. The relationship between stairway designs and floor heights, together with other building elements, is shown in the cross-section perspective.

4. Isometric Drawings

Isometric literally means equal measure, and isometric drawing shows the 3D representation in 30-degree angles. Room design and plumbing connections can be seen from this perspective, as the view seems to be from a corner of the structure.

Is it Important to Study Construction Blueprint Symbols?

We use various symbols in construction drawings, but not all are common sense. There are symbols for building components, materials, and utilities in a construction project. 

Every project comes with a list of abbreviations and characters to avoid confusion. The unique symbols ensure everyone is on the same page and understands how to build the structure. Blueprints are challenging to read sometimes, but having a centralized process helps the involved parties find errors before they occur.


Key Takeaway

Construction blueprints are an important part of any project, and all workers involved in the industry must learn how to decode them. Project teams can’t execute their tasks promptly without up-to-date construction blueprints and prevent resource waste. Individuals starting in construction should know how to interpret construction blueprints easily. Scheduling software for construction crews, like Pro Crew Schedule, makes blueprints more efficient and easier to use.

To avoid delays, schedule the deadline for submitting plans per trade, insert frequent plan walkthroughs in your calendar, and incorporate blueprint creation training for your team. Master the basics of construction so the rest comes easily.

Start with Pro Crew Schedule today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top