The instructions and graphics for this sample are designed using three inches per square (or four squares per foot). The project is a workshop with two rooms (his and hers) added to the side of an existing garage. The homeowner poured a concrete foundation of 240 square feet—that is, 20 feet wide by 12 feet deep. So first, you should add an outline of the full area, then fill in the separate spaces.
Use Excel as an Architectural Design Tool

6. Drop down about six squares from the top and the left, or just position your cursor in cell G7. At four squares per foot, highlight an area that’s 80 columns wide and 48 rows tall (or deep) for the required space of 20 feet wide by 12 feet deep. That would be G7 through CH54.
7. Select the Outline option from the Borders task bar menu, or
8. Select Format>Cells>Border from the Main Menu,
9. Then choose the thick Outline border from the options provided.
10. You can also add interior outline borders to define each square foot of space. This sample uses the interior borders to make the division of space easier to view.

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The homeowner decided to build 2×6 walls instead of 2×4 because of the colder winters in his area. A 2×6 board is only 5.5 inches wide, but if you add .5 inches for the interior wall covering, that equals six inches, or two of the squares. The total interior space is now 11×19.

11. First, use a light color to block out the exterior walls.
12. This space is divided into two rooms, so add a double line border 9.0 feet from the left wall. Fill in two columns (to the left of your double line) with the yellow shading to indicate the interior wall.
13. Next, decide where you want the windows and doors. Use one of the basic shapes to draw these, such as the rectangular Flowchart shape with the side panels.
14. After you place the doors and windows, use the Basic shape rectangle to sketch in the location of the cabinets.

In this example, there are six windows (orange) and three doors (green). There are also a series of cabinets, both wall and base. Since the windows, doors, and cabinets are all drawn using Excel shapes, you can move them around until you find an equitable arrangement. The homeowner had originally positioned the doors and windows in different locations, but after showing the drawing to his wife, he changed the layout.

She wanted the door going to the house beside the door going into her area of the workshop, so she didn’t have to walk through his dusty workshop to get to her craft room. She also pointed out that she wanted wall cabinets, so the original 48×48 inch windows were replaced by 24×48 inch windows and positioned up high above the wall cabinets. And, he had originally included windows on the north wall, but his wife said she didn’t need a window looking into the garage. He agreed, so he removed them.

After rearranging the layout of the cabinets several times, he was ready to submit his plans to the building inspector and get started on the project. Excel designs are accepted by most building inspectors as official blueprints, so you don’t have to hire an architect or engineer for these simple projects. And, any experienced plumber or electrician can use these drawings as a blueprint for the plumbing and electrical installations.

Note: This example does not show the roof, but it was also designed using this same process. The homeowner completed this project in four long weekends (about 16 days) and it cost approximately $12,000.