* The floor plan is never drawn to scale. So be careful about pulling out a ruler and expecting exact results. The reason is that most builders don't want you taking their floor plan to a competing builder. In fact, many floor plans are copyrighted.
* When reading the floor plan, remember the bottom of the page always represents the front door of the house.
* As you walk through the home, don't forget that when builders give you the square footage of a home, it actually represents only those areas that are heated and air-conditioned. So the garage, attic and in some cases, the basement are not included in the square footage listed on the floor plan.
* Normally, a dark solid line on the floor plan represents a wall. A series of thin lines shows windows. Doors are shown as cutouts in the form of a half moon shape -- showing the direction the door opens. A thin line indicates there is brick on the side of the house.
* When looking at the floor plan -- look closely at the layout -- how does the house flow from room to room? Does it fit your needs - for instance, is the dining room close enough to the kitchen?
* Quickly look for the size, shape and length of hallways. They are nothing but wasted space, seldom big enough to put furniture in.
* Look carefully where the builder has placed the garage. If it is on the side of the house, you will want to know how much room you have to turn the car into the garage. If there is a nearby retaining wall, you may have to make several turns. Be sure and ask your builder about additional space.
* Walk through the model home again before you start making several or significant changes to the floor plan. A simple change can have an impact on literally dozens of construction elements. In fact, the more volume a builder does, the less likely they are to make changes to an existing floor plan.
Finally, as you settle on the floor plan of your new house, don't forget to talk with your builder about the placement of such amenities as kitchen islands, phone jacks, electrical switches and even the placement of the garden hoses. Your time and effort here will pay off handsomely on the day you move in.