How to Draw a Room Plan to Scale

jørn utzon & ib møgelvang, architects: villa bille, ejler bille house and studio 1954-55
seier+seier / / CC BY

How to Draw a Room Plan to Scale

(See also How to produce Elevation Drawings)

This is a very useful skill to have, whether you are renovating just one room or a whole house. These types of drawings are used by professionals involved in the design and completion of an interior design project. They are also used by architects and your local planning department to show accurate designs.

An initial basic plan layout drawing is useful for the following reasons:

  1. Working out any structural alterations such as knocking walls down, moving or blocking up doors, changing windows etc. The plan allows for accurate predictions of how changes will look.
  2. Planning the best use of space; any items of furniture can be drawn to scale on card, cut out and placed in various positions until the best layout is found, this can help you purchase furniture with the correct dimensions.
  3. Marking up plans to give to Contractors showing works to be carried out. One copy should be given to each, for example you might give an electrician a copy with works marked in red, the plumber a copy with works marked in blue etc. Most contractors will have seen such drawings before and will appreciate the clear instructions they provide, saving time and money. Plus, if mistakes are made, you have written evidence that can settle any arguments.

Most professionals charge for drawing up plans so if you can learn how to draw a plan to scale yourself it can save you time and money. You can even apply for planning permission yourself, I did! Even if you don’t want to attempt your own drawing, just by reading this you will be better equipped to read a scale plan and its notation correctly.

These drawings are generally drawn to a scale of 1:20, that is every 20mm in the room is reduced to 1mm on paper. This will make most rooms small enough to fit on an A4 piece of paper. Normally there will be a set of drawings which include a plan view or “birds eye view” of the space, (as if looking down from above) plus an elevation view for each wall, (drawn as if standing directly opposite) thus a normal room would have 4 elevations.

Tools for Drawing

In order to draw a plan to scale you will need a scale ruler, this is a very useful piece of kit and will have other scales besides 1:20 (for example 1:5, 1:25, 1:50, 1:100 etc). Amazon sell various makes of rulers:  Scale Ruler. You will also need a tape measure, a sharp pencil and an A4 piece of paper.

To begin, you will make a rough drawing (or survey). Using your pencil draw the room roughly in proportion then, using the measuring tape, measure the overall room length and width and mark on the paper. Next, look around the room to ascertain the position of  any building features, eg irregular shapes, radiators, doors, windows, chimney breast. These must also be drawn on your site plan in the right position and measured. Mark all your dimensions clearly on your survey notes.

Then check the position of light switches, electricity points, gas taps, wall lights etc that may affect your design, measure the exact position and mark them down. You should have a drawing a little like this:

Now you are ready to attempt your first scale drawing! Using your scale rule on the face marked 1:20 and a pencil, draw the walls of your room using the measurements from your survey. Now add all the features that you have measured, using a pencil initially until you are happy with the results and then go over the lines with a black pen. Your drawing should look something like this:

When you are completing a scale drawing there are certain symbols that are universally recognised, some of these are reproduced below:

And that’s it, you can now produce a scale drawing, it is really quite simple, you just need to check and double check your measurements. You could even offer your services to friends and save them a fortune (or charge a small fee!). This type of drawing is also a requirement for building control, which is required whether planning permission is needed or not.

The next step in the process is to learn how to draw elevations for each wall in your room. As before, these will be required when applying for planning permission, they will also need to be submitted for building control purposes, even if planning permission is not required (as in permitted development rules).

Please let me know what you think about this post and also whether it would be useful to have a more in depth look at planning permission and building control regulations.


My name is Caroline Sutton and I'm a wife and mother of 3 children, passionate about food, keeping me and my family healthy, gorgeous interiors and shopping! I have a degree in Biochemistry and Pharmacology and continue to be interested in the science behind diet and drugs. I also have a Diploma and City and Guilds in Interior Design and for the last 17 years have run a property company which develops, redevelops and manages rental properties: Sunlight Properties Ltd.

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