If you are tracking down moisture in wet walls, basement leaks or other difficult to find waterproofing problems, often the blueprints can save you many hours of frustration. Blueprints (also called plans) are like road maps, a view from above. They are drawn to scale (e.g., 1 inch = 2 feet). Usually, the thickest, darkest lines are walls.
Symbols are used to represent fixtures and appliances.
Elevations are straight-on views from the front or sides.
Sections are cut-a-ways, like someone chopped through the structure with a clever. They show hidden details of how the walls, floors, etc. are built. Whole sets of blueprints, drawing or plans exist for most homes. Each one is interconnected with the others, and changes on one usually affect the others. A complete set of drawings usually includes the following.
A Floor Plan shows elevations and wall sections and also shows the location for fixtures and appliances.
A Foundation Plan shows details of crawl spaces or basement walls. These are usually of most value when waterproofing as they will give you an idea of what to look for on the outside of the building that may be causing the problem. They will also show the location of footer drain tiles which run beneath the concrete basement floor, which may have become clogged, broken or (if exterior drain tiles) filled with plant roots.
A Framing Plan is drawn on a simplified floor plan and has the horizontal structural members with joist, trusses and beams drawn in.
The Electrical Plan and the Mechanical Plan are also drawn over the background of a simplified floor plan, (for big projects, these plans show the HVAC, electrical and plumbing details separately). These can be valuable in finding condensation on cold water lines, which is not always as obvious to find as one would think.
A Roof Plan is drawn for complex roof systems and shows ridges, hips, valleys, rakes and eaves, which are pertinent to storm runoff and sometimes indicates insufficient downspouts for the roof surface area drained.
The Details show complex details such as door sills, jambs, eaves, windowsills and headers. Occasionally, one will find on them an “unknown” window or door behind a dry-walled or paneled basement room, which is the source of the water problem.
A Site Plan shows compass direction, topography, land contours, structures and lot boundaries. These are important when determining the surface flow of runoff water.
A Schedule is a chart that list items such as windows, doors, fixtures by size, make, model, etc., which can be handy if you ever need to replace a damaged item.
The Specifications are written instructions on products and construction methods. They appear on the blueprints and/or in their own folder and sometimes give valuable clues as to the source of a water problem which is otherwise difficult to find and understand.
The Perspectives show a 3-D image of the structure in various views. They give an overall picture of how the structure will look. (They are done before the actual construction.)
CAD refers to Computer Assisted Drawing. Nearly all blueprints today are made with CAD.