How to Calculate the Area & Scale for Building Plans

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Whether you are designing a new house or designing a new deck, one of the first steps is to create a building plan. Building plans aren’t drawn to size, they are drawn to scale, which means that you “shrink” the area down and make a scale model on paper. How much to scale down depends on how large the plan is, how detailed you want those plans and how big your paper is.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet of paper
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil

Measure the longest part of your building project, in feet. For example, the projected length of your house is 30 feet.

Measure the longest part of your paper, in inches. For example, the length of your paper is 10 inches.

Divide step 1 by step 2. 30 feet / 10 inches = 3 feet / inch This means that every 1 inch of paper space represents 3 feet of “real” length.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have an unusually long building plan, you may want to consider purchasing a roll of paper, which you can cut to size for your plan, rather than having half of the paper space empty.
  • Add a few feet of length around the edge of your building project if you want a border around the edge.
  • Use your scale drawing to calculate area by converting to "real" measurements before multiplying length by width. For example, if on paper, an area is 5 inches by 5 inches, then 5(3) = 15 feet, so 15 feet by 15 feet = 225.

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