Design Definition

House Plan Terms and Definitions

Basement (Foundation)

A basement has a slab bottom, and it uses steel or engineered wood members for floor framing. These members are stronger and span farther, eliminating the need for a lot of columns. This in turn opens up the basement and makes it functional.

Crawl Space

A crawl space foundation means an elevated first floor system that is usually high enough off of the ground to crawl beneath. Piers are made up of 8" x 16" blocks, and the foundation wall is made up of brick and 8" blocks. The foundation wall contains foundation vents, which allow air to circulate throughout the foundation so that moisture does not build up.


Technically, the foundation is the part of a building that meets the ground, where all loads are transferred to the ground.


For a slab foundation, the site is leveled off, and a trench is dug around the perimeter of the home site. Gravel is then spread across the site, and concrete is poured approximately four inches thick over wire mesh and a moisture barrier. In areas of load bearing walls, trenches need to be dug to allow for additional thickness at this location. Slab foundations have no piers or floor joists, and the concrete slab is the floor system.

Angled Home Plans

Angled floor plans create unique living spaces within the home and a welcoming entry. The angles in these unique floor plans create architectural interest and draw people into the home. This type of house plan can include floor plans with angles, courtyard garages at an angle from the home and other creative layouts.

Brick Home Plans

Brick Home Plans are available in a wide range of sizes and styles. If you are looking for brick house floor plans that will fit most any sized lot, this is your one-stop resource. It’s easy to search for house plans with brick using the home plan search tool. You can search using a variety of criteria such as square footage, style, number of bedrooms, garage location, master bedroom dimensions and more.

Cottage Home Plans

Cottage house plans feature comfortable living spaces in a compact presentation. But cottage floor plans don't have to mean small houses! The traditional cottage house packs a lot of style and charm into a small footprint. Be it a year-round traditional cottage house or a vacation cottage, we offer a wide selection of cottage floor plans to accommodate your preferences.

Country Home Plans

A typical Country house plan includes a front porch, dormers and a roof line parallel to the street. Our Country home plans include these classic elements combined with modern floor plans and up-to-date amenities. Country house plans may be ranch or two-story plans, and work equally well for rural or urban settings.

Craftsman Home Plans

With roots in the American artistic movement known as "Arts and Crafts," the Craftsman home plan is a late 19th and early 20th century style. Because of their lasting influence and attention to detail, Craftsman home plans are still extremely popular today. Materials often include stone, rough-hewn wood, and stucco. Many Craftsman house plans have wide front porches across the front, supported by columns. Other Craftsman house features may include large gables, shed dormers, decorative brackets or timber detailing. We feature Craftsman style home plans that are a modern interpretation of the original Craftsman movement.

Daylight Basement/Walkout Basement

Daylight Basement home plans (also known as Walkout Basement home plans) take advantage of the unique qualities of the land and offer additional square footage on a lower level. Daylight Basement designs are particularly well-suited for lakefront houses, golf course homes, or mountain home designs. Daylight basement house plans also extend outdoor living opportunities, often creating ground-level covered porches and patios as well as porches or decks at the main level.

European Home Plans

Whether modeled after French Country house plans or designed as an elegant Tuscan home plan, European house plans are typically designed with interesting gables and rooflines, grand facades and welcoming floor plans. European house plans may be brick, stucco, or stone, and often offer floor plans with grand foyers, soaring fireplaces, gourmet kitchens and other custom-styled amenities.

Farmhouse Plans

The farmhouse is similar to the Country house plan. Farmhouse plans typically include wrap-around porches and a roof that breaks to a shallower pitch at the porch. Farmhouse home plans may also include dormers. Our farmhouse plans complement the traditional feel of the American farmhouse, with modern floor plan amenities.

Luxury Home Plans

Luxury home plans, similar to estate home plans, feature abundant custom-styled amenities, open floor plans, ample square footage and multiple-use living spaces. If you don't find the perfect luxury house plan, you can customize any of our floor plans to build a truly unique luxury dream home for you and your family. Donald A. Gardner Architects can help you create your luxury home just as you imagine it.

One Story House Plans

The one-story house plan is suitable for everything from suburban neighborhood living to wide-open acres where one-story homes can sprawl out. One-story home designs are available in many house styles, from Craftsman to Traditional to Country and more. Our portfolio contains a large selection of one-story house plans, offering everything from classic floor plans to unique home designs.

Small House Plans

Small house plans don't mean you have to sacrifice quality or style. Our small floor plans feature the most efficient use of space in less than 1400 square feet, containing the features you have always wanted in your new dream house. Offering a wide variety of styles, you will find interior and exterior appeal as well as originality as you search our small home plans.

Two Story House Plans

The Two-Story home plan is popular for narrow and smaller lots, to increase square footage without increasing the home's footprint. Donald A. Gardner Architects has been designing two story house plans since 1978. We offer two-story floor plans in a wide variety of styles and sizes. Whether you desire a classic Victorian home or a Traditional two story house, search our floor plans for the home of your dreams.


Trim work at the top of gable end walls below the soffit.


A quadrilateral or dome-shaped ornamental structure on a home’s roof. It can be glazed or often louvered.


The edge of a roof that projects beyond the face of a wall providing protection from the elements.


A finish board used at the ends of roof rafters and is part of the eave.

Gable Roof

A pitched roof with two sloping planes that meet at a ridge to form an inverted "V" shape. The gable roof is one of the most popular roof styles in American house plans.

Gambrel Roof

A gambrel roof is a ridged roof with two slopes on either side, the lower slope having a steeper pitch than the upper. It is typical of the Dutch Colonial style home plan and frequently referred to as a "barn style" roof.

Hipped Roof

A roof comprised of four or more sloping sides that start at the same eave line.


Part of the roof that hangs over the wall.


The triangular portion of a gabled wall defined by the edge of the sloping roofs and the horizontal line between the eaves.


Refers to the slope of the roof at the end of a gable, where the outside part of the overhang forms an upside down V.


A shed is actually a half gable. One slopping plane is supported by walls. This usually comes off the back side or out of another roof. Shed roofs are also used over some porches.


The underside of the roof overhang or porch ceiling that covers the rafter bottoms. This horizontal surface usually has vents to allow air into the attic.


Constructed on the permanent site for the home rather than in a manufacturing plant or factory. Also known as "site-built."


Repetitious spindles or posts that support the top of a railing at stairs or balcony, often seen in various shapes and materials such as stone, wood or sometimes metal. May also be a decorative feature on the façade of a house plan.


A projecting or overhanging portion of a building with no visible means of support.

Cased Opening

A doorway with no door, shown on the blueprint with two parallel dashed lines.

Cathedral Ceiling

A ceiling in a home plan that symmetrically projects upward in an inverted "V" shape, similar to that of a church.


Stairs built on a radius.

Coffered Ceiling

A ceiling which showcases recessed paneling typically in rectangular or square configurations. Coffered ceilings are most common in formal rooms of a floor plan.


Projecting stone or brick in succession, commonly seen at the top of masonry chimneys or used as support under balconies.


The upper portion of projecting, horizontal molding along the top of a wall or at the eave of a roof.


An abbreviated version of the home office. A small, open area with a desk, drawers and cabinets in a house plan intended to manage today's modern home with space to charge electronic gadgets, pay bills, or supervise children using the internet. These spaces may be located in various areas of the home, but are typically in high traffic areas such as the kitchen or off the utility room.

Family Studio

A designated area in the floor plan with multiple functions, ranging from ironing to gift wrapping, depending on the preferences of the homeowner. Sometimes combined with the utility room, the family studio is a place to take care of household tasks or work on hobbies. These rooms typically include cabinets, drawers, an island and ample counter space.

Floor Framing

Built up on the foundation wall and piers out of 2 x 10 floor joists and beams. The direction and the length of the framing are shown on the blueprints, and they typically are placed 16 inches apart.


Trenches of poured concrete around the perimeter of the house and below each pier or column that supports and distributes the weight of the house to the ground. Two steel rods, known as rebar, run through the trench of the foundation.


Trim work that follows the eve horizontally below the soffit on the wall.


The center, triangular - often elaborated—masonry stone in an arch or lintel over a window or door on the façade of a home plan.


A load-bearing beam which spans the opening of a door or window.

Load Bearing Walls

Load bearing walls carry the load from above, down to the foundation. Load bearing walls brace from the floor to the roof. They are noted on the blueprint with hatch lines.


A covered outdoor living area supported by columns or pillars, generally open on at least one side. Loggias are integrated in a home's mass instead of projecting like a porch. Popular in Italian and European style house plans.


A rectangular, flat column attached to the face of a building. The pilaster projects only slightly from the wall and has a base, a shaft, and a capital. In modern house plans, it is an architectural element used to give the appearance of a supporting column, with only an ornamental function. Can also be used in the frame of a doorway.

Porte Cochere

An entry structure through which it is possible for a motor vehicle to pass, typically allowing coverage to the main house. Popular in many luxury home plans.


A roofed entry surrounded by columns or walls and included in many traditional house plans.


Finished stone or brick at the corners of a stone or brick home.


Height of the step, which varies per house (vertical surface).


Also known as U-shaped stairs, scissors stairs reverse direction half way up to return back the way it started.

Straight Run

These are just like they sound, they run straight up to the second floor.

Tray Ceiling

A style of ceiling constructed with four or more sides angling upward to a higher, flat ceiling. This style resembles an upside-down tray and is commonly seen in breakfast areas, dining rooms and bedrooms.


Top of the step, usually 10.5 inches to 11 inches deep (horizontal).


A tower-like structure - usually circular or polygonal - projecting from the front of the home with a steep or pointed roof.

Vaulted Ceiling

In modern home plans, a ceiling which springs from a lower wall up to a higher wall.


Steps that wind around a corner or post, turning 90 degrees from the original direction and typically having several triangular shaped treads at the turn.


Crank windows, hinged on the top, that open upward. These usually go in the basement.

Bay Window

A window or band of windows that project from the face of a building. Some units may extend to the floor, adding square footage to the floor plan.

Box Bay Window

A bay window in some house plans, with a rectangular projection.

Bow Window

A band of windows in some house plans that project from the face of an exterior wall in a bow-like fashion.


A hinged window that typically swings outward. This type of window was common before the double-hung or "sash" window was introduced.


Windows placed high in a wall typically in a two-story space. Pronounced "clear"-story.


A structural element with a gable or hipped roof that projects from a main, sloping roof and contains a window. Often a continuation of a wall, breaking the main eave line, adding light or square footage to a floor plan.

Dormer Windows

Also referred to as dog houses, dormer comes from the French word dormir, which means "to sleep." Dormers are located on the second floor, usually in bedrooms or bathrooms, and project through the roof to provide a window in this space.

Double-Hung Window

A type of window that features a pair of superimposed, offset sashes that slide up and down vertically. Typically, both top and bottom sashes are operable. Double-hung windows are versatile, making them the most common type of window in American house plans.

Eyebrow Dormer

A dormer whose eave line emerges from the main roof and slopes in an upward curve allowing an arched window to penetrate the wall revealed below. This style of dormer is popular in house plans with European- or French Country-influenced style.


A semicircular or arched window over a door or window, often with muntins (dividers within a window pane) that radiate in the form of an open fan.

Fixed Windows

These windows cannot be opened.


Crank windows, hinged on the bottom, that open outward from the top.

Palladian Window

Also known as a Venetian window, this is a large, central window with a semicircular transom flanked by two smaller windows. This is generally the focal point of a room and is widely used in a variety of traditional and country house plans.

Shed Dormer

A dormer whose roof consists of a single sloping plane. This style of dormer is popular in the Craftsman style house plan.

Single Hung Windows

Only the bottom sash moves up and down, the top is fixed.


Windows that slide open, like sliding glass doors.

Transom Window

A window located above a door or window. Customarily seen as rectangular or arched. In modern home plans, the transom is typically a decorative element, but may be operable for ventilation in some cases.