Building PlansSet of plans

Building Plans: A Guide to Requirements and Sample Plans

Probably the most important step in the permit process is the submittal and review of building plans. Plans are detailed written documents describing the scope of your project.

Such plans are important because they:

  • help you decide if the project you are proposing will meet your needs
  • allow you to determine the cost of materials and construction
  • help you easily submit a project to be bid on comparably by contractors
  • are required by the City of Hopkins as a condition of receiving a building permit for certain types of work

Preparing your plans

You can prepare your own plans or have them prepared for you by a contractor or a drafting service. Plans must be detailed and neatly drawn to a useable scale. (A common scale for floor plans and building plans is ¼ inch to 1 foot.) It is helpful if each page identifies the address of the project as well as the owner's name. For smaller projects, you can use 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper.

If your project is very complex, you may find it advantageous to hire a professional designer to assist you. Also, if your design involves complicated framing techniques or the use of steel I-beams, for example, you may be required to verify that the designs meet code as a part of the plan review process. The Inspections Department may require that a licensed engineer provide this verification.

Typical residential plans include a site plan (decks, additions, and garages only), foundation plans, cross sections, elevations, details of various structural components, and a window schedule.

The following is a description of what should be included on various portions of the plans.

Site Plan

The site plan is a scale drawing of the lot showing the location of each building on the lot. The new construction should be clearly identified on the site plan. The site plan should also indicate:

  • the address of the property.
  • the scale to which the drawing was prepared.
  • the orientation of the drawing with a north arrow.
  • the size of each building.
  • the distance from each building to the property lines and to other buildings. (Distances must be shown to property lines, not streets, sidewalks or alleys. If you do not know the location of your property lines, you may need to have your lot surveyed.)
  • any water features, retaining walls, or other physical features.

For more information, see Site Plans: A Guide to Requirements and Sample Plans.

Foundation Plan

Foundation plans indicate the path and location of the footings and general notes on the foundation design. They should be fully dimensioned.

See typical foundation plan for an addition.


An elevation plan is a view of the building, as one would see it from each side of the building. Elevations help to show:

  • the scale of the project.
  • the building height.
  • exterior finishes.
  • the number of stories of a building (which can effect certain building code requirements).

See typical elevation plan.

Floor Plans

Floor plans should be submitted for each floor affected by a building project. The floor plan should show:

  • the location and identity of each room.
  • room dimensions.
  • locations of windows and doors.
  • fixture locations.
  • items such as smoke detectors.

A window schedule should be provided with the floor plans. The schedule should indicate:

  • the location of the window.
  • the manufacturer.
  • the window size (manufacturer's model number).
  • if the window is safety glazed.

See typical floor plan for an addition.

Cross Sections

Cross sections show a view through the building's framework from foundation to the peak of the roof. Multiple cross sections may be necessary to portray the various work proposed. Cross sections should show:

  • the footing width and depth including rebar placement
  • foundation type (masonry, concrete, or wood), foundation height and thickness, rebar locations, and framing details
  • anchor bolt locations
  • sill plates, floor joist size and spacing, stud size and spacing, exterior and interior sheathing, exterior wall coverings, and insulation and vapor barriers
  • roof framing including truss drawings or joist and rafter size and spacing, roof pitch, eave details, insulation and vapor barriers, roof sheathing, underlayment, ventilation methods, ice and water barrier installations, and roofing type

Descriptive notes may be included to address specific issues such as treated plates, header sizes, and fastener schedules.

See typical cross section for a garage.

See typical cross section for a dwelling.

Plan review

When your plans are finished, submit two sets to the City. (The City retains one set, the other set will be returned to the permit applicant with any corrections noted.)

A staff member will review the plans to determine if the proposed work complies with the building code. The goal is to uncover potential problem areas while the project is still on paper and save you costly corrections later.

Once your plans are reviewed and approved, it is very important that you do not change the plans without prior approval of the Inspections Department. If you change the plans, you run the risk of code violations and negate the purpose of having the plans reviewed in the first place.


NOTICE: This information is intended as a guide to the subject matter and is based in part on the 2015 Minnesota State Building Code and Hopkins City Ordinances. While every attempt has been made to insure the correctness of this information, no guarantees are made to its accuracy or completeness. Responsibility for compliance with applicable codes and ordinances falls on the owner or contractor. For specific questions regarding code requirements, refer to the Minnesota Building Code.



  • Administrative Assistant

  • For questions specific to site plans, please contact:
    City Planner


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