Elevation Drawing: How To Draft An Elevation Drawing

Similar to other professions, designers and architects use terms that can be confusing to a layman. One such word is elevation drawing, which is quite confusing for homeowners. An elevation drawing is different from a floor plan that shows a space from above.

Instead, an elevation drawing shows a view of a building from one side – a flat, two-dimensional portrayal of space. Continue reading to know elevation drawing definition, its key components, and how to draw one of your own.

What Is An Elevation Drawing?

Don’t get confused when your designer says he’ll create an elevation drawing for your project. It’s a sketch showing the front or side of a space. On the other hand, a floor plan only shows the top, as if you’re watching from the above. Hence, with a floor plan, you cannot make out other angles of the construction. Contrarily, an elevation sketch displays the structure from different viewpoints, offering a clearer picture of the project.

Elevation drawings act as a tool, helping designers analyze the project from different angles before commencing. It also shows the heights of vital features in the design in comparison with the natural ground level. Furthermore, the illustration displays the appearance, length, width, and height of the overall structure.

A good elevation plan details the following:

  1. The height of the overall building and primary features such as walls from natural ground level.
  2. Marked orientations (South, West, North, East)
  3. Every side of the space at a scale of 1:100.

What’s Included In Elevation Drawing?

Now that we know the elevation view definition, let’s look at major components that form the view. The sketch generally includes the following:

1. Identification of Side: The foremost information the illustration provides is the side or angle of the design it shows. If the drawing shows the front viewpoint, it’d mention it, and so on.

2. Roof Features: Details about the roof style and pitch. It also includes the chimney’s height and size.

3. Windows, Walls, and Doors: Outlines wall corners with object lines, and any windows and doors on the exterior wall. Similarly, the sketch shows exterior wall corners.

4. Grade Line: A reference point in the elevations plan. It is useful for structures, such as foundation walls, which should be at least 8″ above the grade line. Hidden lines show features below the grade line.

5. Floor and Ceiling: Shows the height from floor to ceiling using a centerline. The height can differ depending on the design. For example, the general garage ceiling height is 8-0”.

6. Vertical Dimensions: The height of all crucial features in the design. It is suitable to see whether any structure conflicts with the height of other items and the overall space.

7. Decks, Patios, and Porches: If the design has decks, patios, and porches, the elevation drawing shows their dimensions, as well.

How To Draw An Elevation Drawing?

Now that you know what is an elevation drawing and all the crucial components, are you wondering how to create an elevation plan? You can follow countless unique designs to create an elevation view of your own.

Let’s delve into the steps you need to follow to create an elevation sketch.

1. Getting Started

Getting Started

Before starting with the elevation drawing, make sure you have the floor plan. The elevation sketch must be at the same scale as the floor plan. A practical tip is to tape the floor plan to your work desk with the front side facing you and the paper of elevation sketch just below it.

Draw dotted lines to match the walls of both drawings to ensure you’re on the same scale.

2. Main Floor Wall Baseline

Main Floor Wall Baseline

The next step is to draw the main floor wall baseline. Begin by using the floor plan and measuring the horizontal distance of the wall facing you. Account for any siding material used for the wall in width calculation.

Draw a faint line leading from every wall corner on the floor plan facing you toward the bottom third of the blank page. You can delete these lines afterward, as they only act as a reference for measurement of top or roofline for the next floor. At the end of the dotted lines, make an upward tick mark.

3. Wall Heights

Wall Heights

You will now sketch vertical lines for the exterior walls that resemble their height. For this, determine how tall the walls would be from the ceiling. To begin with, draw faint lines from the wall base to the height you’ve calculated.

4. Window and Door Outlines

Window and Door Outlines

The next step is to illustrate the window and door outlines on the plan. Use the vertical walls you’ve drawn in the previous step, and the width, to determine the placement of doors and windows. According to the design, place the windows at an appropriate height.

5. Overhanging or Dropping Roof

Overhanging or Dropping Roof

Sketching the roof is the following step. The roofline can have many styles such as gambrel, hip, shed, and gable. One thing to consider before starting is whether your roof would drop or overhang from the exterior wall. Dropping roofs will fall below from where they connect with the exterior wall on two sides, while appear normal on the remaining sides. Therefore, determine the roof style to accommodate these extra measurements.

6. Foundation, Basement, and Chimneys

Foundation, Basement, and Chimneys - elevation drawing

Include the foundation in your elevation drawing. First off, decide whether the lower exterior wall would protrude from the upper wall. If so, determine the finishing type on the foundation and upper wall.

Once you’ve determined where the foundation wall would situate, sketch a faint line from the main floor to the approximate ground height below. Next, add chimneys to your plan and account for any finishing material’s thickness, such as brick and wood siding.

7. Patios, Decks, and Railings

Patios, Decks, and Railings - elevation drawing

If your design includes a porch, deck, or patio, their illustration, together with any railings, comes next. It can be tedious, but make sure the measurements are accurate in the sketch.

Do you like elegant-looking patios? Here are some chic patio decorating ideas you can follow this summer.

8. Some Common Symbols

Some Common Symbols - elevation drawing

Before you start drawing an elevation plan, familiarize yourself with some typical signs. The diagram below shows the most general marks used in the elevation drawing.


Like any other field, architecture has its lingo and jargon. Elevation drawing is a common word in building design. Unlike a floor plan that shows a space from above, an elevation diagram displays the design from the front and sides.

The illustration includes many components such as floor and ceiling, windows, doors and walls, grade lines, and vertical dimensions. To make an elevation drawing of your own, you’d start with a floor plan, and work out the main floor baseline, wall heights, windows, doors, roof, and foundation.

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