Do I Have Drawings of My House?

(and…What if I Don’t!)

As you start to think about that transformational remodel or addition to your home, one of the first questions that comes up is:  “Do I have drawings of my house?”  When you bought your house, you probably recall getting a copy of the Plat of Survey as a part of the purchase process.  This is a drawing describing the overall size of your lot, your house, any accessory buildings on your property, etc.- along with a legal description of your property.  This drawing is very helpful and will be needed for a permit submittal package should you plan to do an addition of any kind.  However, this does not provide any information describing the interior layout and construction of the house itself and it’s structure or utility systems.  Fear not – there are options to be considered in order to get you started:

1 –  Think back to when you purchased your house and try to remember if the previous owner provided copies of drawings(blueprints) of the house.  These may have been for the original construction, depending on the age of your home, or for an addition or remodel that a previous owner(s) undertook.  You probably stashed them somewhere in your crawl space storage area thinking you wouldn’t need them – go look for them there.

2-  As the current owner of your home, you can contact your local city or village government to request copies of previous construction permit submittal drawings on file.  In order to initiate and access these, you will likely need to complete a Freedom of Information Act form and submit it to the city clerk(check with your City Hall).  Some local governments even have this form/application available online to be submitted electronically.  You will need to specify that you’d like to locate any submitted drawings and specifications for construction at your home.  You should hear back in about a week.  Expect that there may be some nominal charges for printing/copies of large sheets if they are available.

3-  And finally, if neither of the above “pans out”, all is not lost.  Your architect can measure and draw your house to the extent that is required as a part of the first step of the design process.  With a little sleuthing, exploration, and consideration of the age of your house, the structural bones can be ascertained.  In some cases, the drawings found from options one and two above provide information insufficient to fully document what is needed for your project.  However, any information is helpful and will save some time in putting together these measured drawings.

Now, as you move through designing and building your project, keep a set of the drawings and mark it up showing locations of key utility routes and/or ductwork that will not be visible when the project is done.  Someday you(and your architect) will be very glad you did!