How to Build a Scale House Model

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Architects and developers often use scale models in their work as a way of showing their client exactly what they are planning. A scale model of a house is an exact replica form that shows exactly how the house will look when it is built, down to the precise measurements. You don’t have to be a professional to build a scale house model, though. If you are planning to build, you can see what your house will look like by making your own scale model out of simple materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Calculator
  • Balsa wood sheets
  • X-acto knife
  • Superglue
  • Large paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler

Measure the house. The house you want to build may just be a plan on paper, or you may need to make a model of a house that is already in existence, such as a historical home. If that’s the case, you will need to get the dimensions of the house on all sides. You will measure all sides, the height at the tallest point of the roof and the lowest, the porch and the window sizes. Any detail you plan to include on your model, you will need a precise measurement for, both inside and outside. It’s possible that the blueprints for the house are still around somewhere. If you can find those, they will come in very handy.

Determine the scale that you are going to use. 1/4 inch = 1 foot is a standard scale. If you are doing a model of a smaller house, you may be able to use 1/2 inch = 1 foot. After you decide on your scale, you will convert all of your measurements. If the house is 100 feet long on each side and you are using a 1/4 inch = 1 foot scale, your new measurements will be 25 inches all around.

Draft your model. Before beginning your model, draw a scale version of the house you want to build, using your scale measurements. This will serve as the basis for your model. If you are making the model from blueprints, make a copy of the prints and change all of the measurements to your new scale so that you will have an easy reference.

Cut the pieces for your model. You can use any kind of building material that you want, but wood will hold up better than cardboard. Balsa wood is easy to cut and work with. You can cut it with just an X-acto knife, which makes it easy to control your cuts. Use your scale building plans to measure and cut out each section of the house.

Assemble your pieces. Refer to your modeling plans often. Balsa wood will hold together very well with superglue. Just hold the pieces together while the glue dries.

Tips & Warnings

  • Glue the parts of the roof together, but just set it on the top of the house without gluing it on. This will allow you to lift the top off and peek inside if you have created a detailed interior.
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