Construction Plans and Architectural Designs

It’s one thing to say what you want in your construction project, but it is another thing to properly document your dream design on paper in the form of legitimate construction plans. Within this article, you will have a better understanding of what is included in detailed construction plans, as well as the understanding of common symbols used in the architectural industry. Whether you are a project owner or contractor, always remember your construction drawings take precedence over performance specifications in the state of New York.

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Also called plan view; a drawing made to scale to represent the top view or a horizontal section of a structure or a machine, as a floor layout of a building.

  • Show plan samples
  • Dimension lines should be continuous for scanning
  • Discrepancies can sometimes be found between overalls and parts
  • Reference symbols



Made as if projection on a vertical plane to show any one side.

  • Show exterior elevation sample
  • Show interior elevation sample
  • Use of shading
  • Reference symbols

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Also called a cross-section diagram is what you would see if you could take a ‘knife’ and cut through the object and see what the new surface or profile would look like.

  • Show section example
  • Usually have ‘cross-hatching’ (diagonal lines) showing the new ‘cutting plane’



A separate large-scale drawing of a small part or section of a building or machine.

  • Show how certain portions of work are to be performed
  • Show detail example
  • Not scale
  • Note tag symbol



  • The technique of representing three-dimensional objects and depth relationships on a two-dimensional surface.


New York Rule: The detailed construction drawings take precedence over the performance specifications. (Green v. City of New York, 283 A.D. 485, 128 N.Y.S. 2d 175 (1st Dep’t 1954)) See Also: (American Sign Co. v. Rundback, 161 N.Y.S 28 (App. Term 1916). Where a contract called for a sign consisting of 359 lamp sockets and the plans specified 319 lamp sockets, the court found the detailed plans controlling “because they were more specific, showing not only the number of sockets but also their exact location.”)


The author, John Caravella Esq., is a construction attorney and formerly practicing project architect at The Law Office of John Caravella, P.C., representing architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and owners in all phases of contract preparation, litigation, and arbitration across New York and Florida. He also serves as an arbitrator to the American Arbitration Association Construction Industry Panel. Mr. Caravella can be reached by email: or (631) 608-1346.

This is a general information article about the commissioner’s regulations in architecture and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. The content above has been edited for conciseness and additional relevant points are omitted for space constraints. Readers are encouraged to seek counsel from a construction lawyer who has experience with Long Island construction law for advice on a particular circumstance. To learn more about The Law Offices of John Caravella, visit