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Dorado 02-11-2013 06:17 PM

How to get building plans
I'd like to drill a 1/2" x 14" hole through who knows what in the wall of my apartment (I own the apartment and am allowed to drill through the walls). I can see what's in the last 4-5" (plaster, mesh, space, concrete), and I know the first inch or two is suitable for nails because closet shelves are nailed into it. The rest is a mystery.

I've written to the the Buildings Dept. in the past asking for the plans for my apartment because studs are difficult to locate in my plaster and mesh walls but I received no reply. It's a New York City building that was publicly funded in the 1960s. If I remember correctly, there's a Freedom of Information law in NY State and NY City follows it. Would the city have plans that would show where the beams, pipes, wires, etc. are? Would I need a stud detector with a probe?

oh'mike 02-11-2013 06:52 PM

Even if you had the plans --they would not be much help in finding the studs----

The carpenters that did the framing chose the method and layout---the plans only show how log and how tall a wall is---the carpenter makes the wall his way --to his layout---using the stud spacing dictated by the plans and local code---

Typical stud spacing is 16 inches apart---some times 24 sometimes something different--

If you can locate one stud---look for an electric box--that will be nailed to a stud---measure over 16" and drill a small hole--if you hit wood---do that again 16 over--and try again---

Few stud finders work well with plaster and wire mesh----

Dorado 02-11-2013 07:13 PM

2 Attachment(s)
The "studs" in some of my walls are narrow steel channels or something, tied to mesh and some kind of bead at the ceiling rather than a normal track (see photos). I try to avoid them now. I'm just worried about the 14" deep hole for now.

In the picture that shows the pipe on the right side, you can see where I want to drill - I want to drill on the left side, above where that bar goes through the space. Hopefully it's just more concrete block I'd be drilling through, but it would be nice to know for sure.

GBrackins 02-11-2013 07:31 PM


Originally Posted by Dorado (Post 1115228)
Would the city have plans that would show where the beams, pipes, wires, etc. are? Would I need a stud detector with a probe?

they may or may not, depends on how long they keep records on file. they may have them on microfiche. I'd go to the building department and not write them to find out.

oh'mike 02-11-2013 07:54 PM

You don't have studs---that's a steel braced mesh with plaster---what exactly are you trying to do?

gregzoll 02-11-2013 07:55 PM

There would not be any studs in that type of wall makeup. The only structural wall is that concrete block, what you see in your apartment, is just cosmetic. Google for the photos, when Sandy hit, where the front wall of a couple of buildings fell. There are a couple that show a box within the actual box the apartment sits inside.

Now of course, your best bet would be to locate a company in NYC that works on these buildings, and they can easily describe the makeup of how they did the plaster & metal lathe walls.

jagans 02-11-2013 08:01 PM

What are you attempting to do, or is it a secret?

Dorado 02-11-2013 08:07 PM


Originally Posted by oh'mike (Post 1115303)
what exactly are you trying to do?

When I wanted to find the studs (in a wall not pictured), I wanted to fasten my shelves to the wall so they wouldn't fall during an earthquake. That was a few years ago when NY had the first earthquake that I ever felt and knew damn well was an earthquake. Now I want to drill from inside a closet to the hallway to insert 1/2" or smaller EMT and a coaxial cable.

Dorado 02-11-2013 10:18 PM

The measurements seem right for the unknown area to contain another cinderblock, so I'll just try to estimate where the hollow section of the block is and aim there. When I drill through to the hollow section, I'll make sure it's hollow for the full depth that you'd expect it to be hollow. Then I'll be kind of confident it's just a cinderblock with nothing inside. If there's a void where I expect a cinderblock, hopefully the void will be deep enough that I'd know the only thing left to drill through is the stuff I see in the photo, which seems safe to drill through. But I still want those building plans. I'll check the Building Dept's website. Maybe I'll go down there.

oh'mike 02-11-2013 10:37 PM

That mesh/plaster wall will support a lot of weight using wing backed anchors---no beed to hit the cinderbloc if it is a ways back from the mesh/plaster wall---

md2lgyk 02-12-2013 10:20 AM

I have never seen any set of building plans that showed the location of studs, plumbing, or wiring.

gregzoll 02-12-2013 11:30 AM


Originally Posted by md2lgyk (Post 1115662)
I have never seen any set of building plans that showed the location of studs, plumbing, or wiring.

It depends on the structure. Back in the day when you actually had Industrial Arts classes in high school, we were taught by our instructor how to draw up plans for electrical, hvac, stud placement, plumbing, etc..

That was also because our school had a building trades class, and we drew up plans also for building homes to auction off, to help fund the trades classes. I remember that my school went as far as actually building a small home inside the shop, to show students how to manufacturer a home, plus taught the skills needed that they could take with them later on, when they owned their own home.

Dorado 02-12-2013 11:39 AM

I think Kootenay plans show studs and they would tell me whether there's a cinder block where I'm expecting it.


Building Plans Must Include:


Cross Section
  • detailing method of construction and material details for walls, floors and roof drawn to scale (usually to 1)

Centeal Kootenay Building Plan Submission

But I'm in Brooklyn.

ddawg16 02-12-2013 11:40 AM

The #1 rule of home construction....walls are never straight

Rule #2....studs are not where you expect them

I just use a small drill to locate voids....

gregzoll 02-12-2013 12:34 PM

I found that with my place, the inside walls were set with the studs at 16 o/c from the doorway openings, going towards the outside walls. If you measure from the outside inwards, you will always miss the studs.

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