What are House Elevations?

Written by anne hirsh
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What are House Elevations?
Architects draft elevations to communicate their designs. (Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

House elevations are architectural drawings that show how a home will look from specific angles. Elevations are a key part of the way architects communicate their designs with clients and the contractors who will build the home. Like all architectural drawings, house elevations are drawn to scale, meaning that the length and thickness of each line directly corresponds with measurements of the finished home. A 1/2 inch equals 1 foot scale is common.

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Front Elevation

The front elevation is a straight-on view of the house as if you were looking at it from a perfectly centred spot on the same plane as the house. Also called an "entry elevation," the front elevation shows home features such as entry doors, windows, the front porch and any items that protrude from the home, such as side porches or chimneys. However, side walls are not visible at all unless they will be built at an angle that is visible from the centred front view.

Side Elevations

Side elevations are similar to the front elevation, but are drawn from each side of the home, again in a straight-on view. Architects label these elevations by right and left side, determined as if you were facing the home. Directional notations, such as "Right side elevation (north)" help minimise confusion when interpreting the drawings. Side elevations are useful for showing windows and other home features, and they also show the home's depth. The side view of the front and back porches helps contractors visualise porch size in relation to the home. Roof pitch (steepness) is also indicated in side elevations.

Rear Elevations and Notes

Rear elevations present the back side of the house, with yet another straight-on view. As with the other drawings, notes regarding features that can't be seen from straight-on views may be included on this drawing. Other notes included on elevations may indicate the materials contractors should use for certain areas, such as window or door type, siding materials and exterior insulation.

Split Elevations

Another type of side elevation is a split elevation. This is a view of the home's interior, drawn as if the house has been split in half down the middle or other indicated line. Split elevations show details for interior feature heights, floor thickness, wall thickness and stair rise.

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