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Using the Plans

A download for a building or its reverse contains PDF files and AutoSketch SKF files.

Buildings, files, drawings, and sheets

Building files were created with AutoSketch and saved in the native AutoSketch format with filename extension SKF. AutoSketch is an inexpensive program that was developed from QuickCAD by Autodesk, the maker of AutoCAD.

There is a download for each building as illustrated. A house or a triplex also has a download for its reverse, which is flipped left and right. A building with an even number of units does not have a reverse because it is symmetrical.

Each building or its reverse has two AutoSketch SKF files. One contains a floor plan and a schematic plan for each story. The other contains a foundation plan, a roof plan, and elevations. A drawing sheet is formed by combining layers, as explained by the numbering system.

A download is a zip file labeled with the building number, with R suffixed for a reverse building. The zip file contains the two SKF files and five or more PDF files. Each PDF file is a drawing sheet.

AutoSketch can save files in DWG format to make them compatible with AutoCAD but line style, which is critical information, is lost. Scale, page setup, and text justification are also lost. Consequently, downloads do not include DWG files.

Printing the plans

AutoSketch or a PDF editor can be used to edit files. Alternatively, a blueprint service can print on editable vellum instead of bond.

Drawing sheets can be printed with AutoSketch from SKF files as half-size originals (4 feet per half inch) with any printer capable of handling letter and legal size paper. Before printing select "Page View," "Scaled," 0.005 for "Hairline Width," and "Print All Black" and deselect "Print Grid." A blueprint service can enlarge the originals to full size.

Alternatively, drawing sheets can be printed from PDF files as half-size originals, or a blueprint service can print full-size originals (4 feet per inch). A blueprint service is unlikely to be able to print from SKF files.

Letter size enlarges to 17 x 22 inches, which is a size C print. Legal size enlarges to 17 x 28 inches, which is an irregular print. Legal size and irregular size prints can be folded at the tick mark to make them the same size as letter and size C prints.

Plan approval

The plans meet all requirements of the International Building Code and other model codes, but this does not guarantee your building department will approve them. Each building department interprets the building code differently, and some have requirements in addition to the code.

The plans must meet all requirements of the zoning ordinance as well as the building code. The zoning ordinance regulates such matters as building density and height, and might have other requirements that control appearance.

Each official in a building department interprets their job differently. Some look for reasons to disapprove plans, and might even require that the plans be reviewed and sealed by a licensed architect or engineer. Others will approve plans that generally meet all requirements, if not to the letter.

Even if the building department has no objection to the design, neighbors of the site will. Neighbors are typically opposed to any new construction, and in some areas they are given enough power to block approval or impose additional requirements.

What else you will need

When submitting building plans to your building department, you must also submit a site plan. Someone familiar with your zoning ordinance can prepare the site plan.

Before beginning construction, you will need to submit electrical, plumbing, and mechanical working drawings. You will also need to submit a detailed roof plan.

The schematic plan serves as a guide for licensed specialists who will prepare the working drawings that take into account your preferences and site characteristics. The drawings depend on your planned furniture arrangement, what types of appliances you select, the location of utility terminations on the site, and the nature of your sewage disposal system.

The roof plan serves as a guide for the truss company that will prepare the detailed roof plan. The roof must be designed to withstand the local weather.

The foundation plan is suitable for most sites. However, if your soil is unstable, your site is on a hillside, or you want to use frost-protected shallow footings to save money, a new foundation plan must be prepared.


A list of materials is not included. The drawings are deliberately made general enough to allow the use of a wide variety of materials.

Specify roof covering, siding, trim, floor coverings, cabinets, and appliances to meet your taste, budget, and zoning ordinance. When you have chosen your materials, a lumberyard can provide you with a list of materials.

These materials are inexpensive, attractive, and durable. Using more expensive materials will not increase resale value:

Construction costs

Construction costs vary greatly by locality. To determine the construction cost of a building in your area, contact a local real estate agent or builder. They can determine the construction cost by comparing the building to similar buildings.

Do not estimate the cost by using the average cost per square foot of new construction. Large buildings cost less per square foot than small buildings. Buildings on hillsides cost more per square foot than buildings on flat lots.