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What to Expect Series: Session 3: The Details of Drafting

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

If you are embarking on a renovation or new build, then you are bound to run into a discussion about drafting. Floor plans, Sections, Drawings, Renderings … There are many different terms to understand prior to diving into what each drawing communicates. Below are some definitions of the most commonly used terms:


A Floor Plan is a birds eye view of each floor. Dimensions are usually drawn between the walls to specify room sizes and wall lengths. Floor plans will also indicate rooms, all the doors and windows, and any built-in elements, such as plumbing fixtures, cabinets, etc. Floor plans can include notes to specify finishes, symbols for electrical items and plumbing, and any other information required.

Elevations are a non-perspective vertical view of the home. These are drawn to scale so that measurements can be taken for any aspect necessary. Exterior elevations such as this one specify finishes, roof pitches, and other details that are necessary to give the home its exterior architectural styling. Interior elevation include details such as built-in shelving, moldings, and columns.

A section cuts through the dwelling, and the location of this ‘cut through’ is noted on the floor plan. It describes how the building will be constructed. Sections are used to explain certain conditions in more detail. These conditions may include insulation types, fireproofing materials, ceiling height, ceiling type (flat or vault), and window and door dimensions.

Part of our full service design package is drafting for our clients. There are some drawings we can do, and some that we outsource to other professionals. Below is a list of the drawings that we will often create for our clients:

As-built Drawings

In the simplest explanation, this is a drawing of what is already there “as it is built” prior to any demolition or changes. Prior to creating these drawings, we need to go to the site and take many measurements and photos of the space. From these records, we are able to create “as-built” drawings.

These renderings commonly include details such as locations and dimensions of walls, doors, windows, plumbing, and mechanical information. In renovations, we use as-built drawings as a starting point to create new designs. This allows us to view the existing footprint so we know the space we have to work with and what we can move or add on to. It is all done to scale so we can see if the vision will work based on the space we have.

Proposed Drawings – Reworking floor plans

Once we have the as-built drawings complete, we can see the space we have to work with and the options to change the floor plan of an existing structure, or, for a decorating project, the furniture that can be placed within the space. This is a very common task in our line of work - sometimes also referred to as "red lining." If the flow of your home doesn’t work for you and your family, re-working the floor plan within the existing structure (or changing the layout of furniture and items in your home) can make all the difference. See the image above to view an existing layout and our proposed layout below that our clients approved.

Elevations – Millwork, tile, and feature wall design 

We create elevation drawings to show details and design features we create for our clients. For example, we always like to include tile elevations for showers to show fixture locations, tile layout, and niche details. These types of drawings can be used to communicate design ideas to clients and trades, gather quotes, and ensure the end product turns out the way we intended. In this image below, we noted the different tile types for the backsplash as well as the liner tile on the outer edge of the backsplash.

Reflected ceiling plan (RCP)

This type of plan shows lighting placement and ceiling details. This is necessary for framers, drywallers, and electricians to understand where each light will be placed so they know where to put in the junction boxes. We like to combine RCPs with a furniture plan, even if you’re not planning on changing your furniture. This allows us to make sure dining fixtures are centered on tables, or that there will be enough light in living rooms, etc.

3D Renderings

These drawings, while they take a little more time to create, can be very helpful to clients who are having trouble visualizing the overall feel/look of the design. We can utilize 3D drawings to share textures, colours, materials and provide an overview of what they can expect the space to look like after it is complete. It is important to remember however, that a drawing can never 100% replicate the end result and that these tools are used to share conceptual ideas. Our clients were having a hard time deciding on the colour for the hood fan, so we created this 3D drawing for them to envision the space with each option.


  1. Architects are responsible for new home plans or a major rework/addition.

  2. An Engineer would need to determine load bearing requirements for beams etc.

  3. While we can provide a general cabinet layout, the cabinet maker supplies the final drawings which include all details and specifications.

  4. Survey companies will complete a Site Plan. These are required for any additions or new builds.

Site plans are drawn to show the location of a home on the property in its context. It is an overhead view of the lot and the home as it sits in reference to the boundaries of the lot. Site plans should outline location of utility services, setback requirements, easements, location of driveways and walkways, additional structures such as sheds, and sometimes even topographical data that specifies the slope of the terrain. 


For renovations that include structural changes, permits are required. Permit-ready drawing packages can take many hours to prepare, depending on the scope of the renovation. Below is a non-exhaustive list of required details which helps portray the level of detail and time required to complete a full package.

Please note: the requirements are also dependant on the scope of the project.

  1. Dimensions of the site (property lines)

  2. Location of proposed and existing buildings/structures

  3. Location of existing and proposed accesses to the site

  4. Grade elevations (for additions and urban agriculture)

  5. Elevations of all sides of the building, both the existing and proposed, dimensioned and labeled to show materials and colors

  6. Size of the building (dimensions and square footage)

  7. Dimensioned room layouts indicating uses and activities

  8. Cross sections showing all materials used for the structure, assemblies detailing thermal insulation details, all assemblies forming floors, walls, roofs, decks, etc.

  9. Wall, floor, roof assembly details

  10. Foundation plans and construction specifications

This is a general outline of what is required for the City of Edmonton and these details are ever changing. It is best to discuss permit packages for your personal renovation with your team. Keep in mind that these may be different than what is required by Strathcona County or Sturgeon County.


Creating floor plans and other renderings is highly detailed work. It can take some time to create drawings and get them to clients for approval. It is best to take our time and present the best possible design option first, however, these are still working documents and can be updated as per our client’s recommendations and requests.

All of these types of renderings are a great communication tool between designer, client and tradespeople. They can help bring to life the ideas a designer has and allow them to share it with homeowners in a practical and clear way.

Next Week...

This next session is going to be full of information regarding the finishes in your home, our process of making these selections, timelines, and all the different options that are available to choose from!


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