Essential Guide: How to Read Site Plans

by Carlisle Homes

Essential Guide: How to Read Site Plans

Understanding site plans is easy once you break down the main components – here’s how.

During your contract appointment, you’ll be presented with your home’s site plans, which allow you to visualise how the finished spaces and proportions in your home will look. They can be a lot to take in if you’ve never encountered site plans before, filled with lines, numbers and foreign symbols.

But fear not: your Carlisle Client Liaison Executive will be right by your side during your contract appointment to explain exactly what you’re looking at and answer any questions.

In the meantime, here is an explanation of the main terms you're likely to come across.


Site Plan/ Site Works

Your site plan shows you a bird’s-eye view of the site works required. This can include site cut and fill, retaining walls and batter (a receding slope or wall).


Front Setbacks

The front setback on your plan refers to the distance between your site’s front boundary line and the front wall of your house.

It’s important to know your front setback so we can ensure that we’re constructing your home in compliance with building regulations, and to determine whether council approval is required.

Essential Guide: How to Read Site Plans

Site Plan: Cut Vs Fill

The cut and fill area is used to create a level building platform for your house.

Cut = Soil that is cut/taken away from your land.

Fill = Soil that is added.

Essential Guide: How to Read Site Plans

External Elevations: Cut Vs Fill

The cut and fill is also shown on the external elevations.

This allows you to see (from all angles) the works required to create a level building platform.

Essential Guide: How to Read Site Plans

Site Works: Batter

To avoid having a straight edge step on the cut, the existing soil is battered at a 45-degree angle. In some cases, this can eliminate the need for retaining walls.

  • Blue = 45-degree batter line
  • Yellow = Natural ground level
  • Green = Excavation point               
  • Red = Level building platform after cut and fill  


Retaining Works

Retaining walls may be required for various reasons, such as:

  • The cut and fill.
  • Proximity to your boundary, which restricts the use of batter.
  • The natural ground level of your neighbours’ blocks.

A retaining wall is designed to retain any soil that may otherwise fall back into the cut area of the site or to retain the soil within the building platform.

Our engineers will determine whether your site requires retaining walls based on the survey/site plans.

Essential Guide: How to Read Site Plans

Solar Panels

As part of our six-star energy efficiency requirement, your home will come with a gas-boosted solar hot water system. This means solar panels will be installed on your roof as close to north-facing as possible to ensure the optimal efficiency of the system.

The location of your solar panels is shown on your site plan.


Internal Floor Plans

Internal floor plans give you a bird’s eye view of your home’s layout.

Essential Guide: How to Read Site Plans

The internal floor plans will also include:

  • Door heights x widths
  • Door types
  • Bulkhead locations
  • Service voids
  • Window locations
  • Downpipe locations


Plaster-Lined Openings & Bulkheads

Certain rooms may have a plaster-lined opening instead of a door. This means there will be a bulkhead separating the room/area you are leaving from the one you are entering. 

This is indicated on the plans and will show how high the opening is and the thickness of the bulkhead.



The black dots on your floor plan indicate your home’s downpipes. This is where stormwater is collected and distributed to your legal point of discharge.



The sizes and locations of your windows are shown on your floor plan. Window measurement is always height x width.

If the window has ‘DG’ beside it, this means it is double-glazed. If nothing is noted, this means that the window is single-glazed.

Essential Guide: How to Read Site Plans

Fixed, Awning and Sliding Windows

Fixed windows (not openable), awning windows (wind out to open) and sliding windows (slide to open) will be shown on your external elevation. 


Window Films

If a translucent film is required on your windows to comply with Rescode Requirements for privacy, it will be indicated on your floor plan and external elevations.

External Glass Doors

Your external glass doors will have an arrow to indicate the direction the doors will open. 

Standard sliding doors are not double-glazed. However, if your alfresco door is timber this will be written on the floor plan. 


Internal Doors

Your floor plan will show you the location, width and style of the door to every room.

If there is an asterisk (*) beside the width of the door, this indicates the door is an increased height of 2340mm rather than the standard 2040mm door height.


Hinged Vs Cavity Sliders

A hinged door (opens via hinges) and a cavity slider door (opens into a wall space) will be shown on your internal floor plans.

It’s important to note that with cavity sliders, you cannot have full-height wall tiling on the related wall.

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Have questions ahead of your contract appointment? Contact our friendly team today on 1300 520 914 or chat to us online. You can read more about the building process and timeline here.


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