Where to Get Blueprints of an Existing House

For many homeowners, locating the blueprints for your house can be beneficial in a variety of scenarios. If you plan to renovate your home, blueprints can provide locations and details for existing structural components, as well as wiring and plumbing systems. Having the blueprints can save you big money when it comes to getting building permits as well. Rather than having to take the time to measure and redraw your house, your architect can simply add to the existing plans.

City Inspectors and Public Records

As part of the building permit process, homeowners or builders are required to submit drawings of the home to local permit agencies. Many of these agencies keep these drawings on file for many years and will release copies to homeowners upon request. This is often done through your local courthouse or county clerk's office. The permitting agency in your city or state can provide information on where to request these records.

If your local government doesn't have the blueprints for your house on file, check with the zoning board to see if you can locate the plat for your property. This document typically shows the outline of your house along with property lines and locations of underground lines or tanks. Plats are much easier to locate than blueprints and can be tremendously helpful when building or renovating.

Design Professionals

If you know the name of the builder or architect involved in constructing your home, he may have copies of your blueprints in his files. This is an especially effective strategy when working with a large home builder, who likely built many houses that were identical or largely similar to yours. If your house is very old, you may have some luck finding the name of your builder or architect by examining public records or local advertisements from the time your house was built.

Realtors and Neighbors

Your realtor may be able to help you track down blueprints as well. If she doesn't have these documents on file, she may have suggestions about where you can look. It is very common for a copy of the plat to be kept on file with sales records and contracts, though blueprints are less common.

Check with neighbours who have homes similar to yours. It's possible they were built by the same contractor using similar blueprints. See if they have plans you can copy. Another option is to use public records to track down previous owners of your home. They may have the plans or plat for the house somewhere in their files.

Recreate the Plans

Sometimes it's nearly impossible to find old blueprints. If this is the case, consult a draftsman or architect about recreating the plans from scratch. They'll measure your house and use any available documents to draw up new plans.

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About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.

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