Plan, section, and elevation all describe distinct types of drawings used by architects to visually represent a buildings design and construction. Architectural drawings like these are vital to any building project. They hold all the tiny details within them for the build to be successful, such as how big a room should be, how it should be laid out etc. They help owners and project planners understand how a building will look and function when works are complete.

Plan, section, and elevation drawings are 2D representations of a 3D object. By combining all the visuals together, it allows for an accurate representation of a proposed design or space. Each drawing is slightly different:

Plan drawings

Plan drawings show a birds-eye view of a space. For example, when drawing a floor plan, the roof would be removed from the drawing so the interior space and layout can be seen from above.

Plans are a common design drawing and there are several different types of plan drawings such as, a roof plan as described above, or a site plan which shows the proposed project in the context of its surroundings. Site location plans should clearly show the location and boundaries of the proposed (and entire) development site.


Elevation drawings

An elevation drawing is drawn to show the view from the side of a building, a portion of a building, or room. When drawing interior elevations, the drawing would represent one of the walls. Elevations are drawn on a vertical plane looking straight onto a building façade or interior surface, to show a vertical interpretation. There are different types of elevations that can be drawn.


Section drawings

Section drawings are also drawn on a vertical plane slicing through a building or space to show more of what lies within the room or building and its features. It also illustrates some structural detail. A section line can be cut from any part of a space, depending on what you would like to demonstrate.

The difference between a section and an elevation

Homeowners can often confuse section and elevation drawings.To clarify, an elevation shows a vertical surface seen from a viewer’s perspective. For example, if you were to stand directly in front of a building and view the front of the building, you are looking at the front elevation. If you were to stand directly in front of the side of a building and view the side of the building, you are looking at the side elevation.

A section is a vertical cut through of a space. The position of the section cut line is important, and usually two section cuts are used at right angles to one another so the space can be viewed in both directions. The section line (the cut) is indicated on the floor plan, with an arrow indicating which way the section is looking. Sections will often provide some indication of the structure, foundations etc – depending on the stage of design the project is at.

In a standard set of architectural plans on a small residential project like the ones we work on at Parsons Joinery, the elevations are typically drawings from the main facades of the building – the front, back and two sides (or north, south, east, and west). The sections are typically two or more sections cut at 90 degrees of one another to give information on both directions of the space.

If you are looking to repair or replace timber windows or doors and need planning permission to conduct the works, our team of professional joiners will be able to help. If we are undertaking your project, we can manage the whole planning process for you, including all the associated drawings and plans needed for your application. We are always here if you would like to chat your project through with us.