Building Design and Construction Systems Graphic Vignettes Video Tutorials

In this tutorial we cover all the Building Design and Construction Systems: Roof Plan Vignette, Stair Vignette, and Ramp Vignette:

Roof Plan Graphic Vignette Tutorial

Roof Scope:

  • Upper and lower roof
  • Clerestory requirements
  • Roof planes
  • Flashing
  • Crickets
  • Skylights
  • Gutters
  • HVAC
  • Vents

Fatal Errors

  • Missing elements
  • Clerestory location
  • Roof planes overlap
  • Improper roof slopes – use the least
  • Natural light requirements for rooms without windows
  • Highest ridge height
  • Complicated roof – keep it simple
  • Poor HVAC location (too close to edge of building)
  • Improper roof elevations – do the math – don’t forget the structure depth and ceiling heights.
  • Downspout locations
  • Too much volume – work the slopes to minimize differences between ceiling heights and roof elevations.
  • Surfaces sloped in wrong directions
  • Crickets per program.f

Ramp Graphic Vignette

 Stair Graphic Vignette


 Be a code expert

  • Stair and Ramp are code problems
    •  Keep solution simple – orthogonal solution
  • Look for clues
    • Doors – how many are shown
    • Don’t minimize exit clearance
    • Doors into the space = doors out of the space
  • Look out for obstacles in layout
  • Use sketch tools – rectangles – to represent ramps
  • Consider exiting circulation
  • Maintain corridor widths throughout
  • Computer grader looks at residual space
    • Make sure it is accessible
  • Don’t overbuild – provide minimum requirements.
  • Changes in direction
    • Will require 5 foot x 5 foot landings
    • Check solution – railing can stick in but not more than 4” or program requirement if different.

– Fatal Errors

  • Program
  • Missing elements – railing
  • Edge of existing slab violated
  • Design Logic
    • More than 1 stair/ramp
    • Residual space unusable
    • Inefficient solution
      • Correct slope
      • Meet minimum of code
    • Unclear circulation


  • New doors swing correctly
  • Riser height/ramp slope
  • Stair/ramp width too small
  • Missing railings / guardrails
  • Extension of railings (per program)
  • Landings not 5’ x 5’ minimum
  • Obstructed circulation
  • Virtual landings (5’ x 5’) at bottom of ramp missing


NOTE: All NCARB graphic vignette software can be found at

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • john July 14, 2012, 7:31 pm

    your videos are EXTREMELY helpful… thanks for posting!
    For the Stair Vignette, you have posted ‘Part 2’ twice.
    Please repost with Part 1 if you can!

  • john July 21, 2012, 2:11 am

    Thanks, you rock!!

  • Josh Dennis September 3, 2012, 5:49 pm

    Excellent videos. One comment on the stair video. Everything was drawn on the ground level. Shouldn’t it all be on level 2 otherwise cut stairs are required?


    • Rejane September 22, 2013, 10:35 pm

      Did you have any reply on yours? I agree. We have to draw on second floor all of it, then the 1′-9″ small stair,landing and cut stair for the following stair.

  • Joe Magnello June 9, 2013, 5:34 pm

    At the end of program it states if an area of refuge is required need to provide 48″ clear between handrails. I feel this would over rule the 44″ you used. Very helpful video! Thanks

    Josh, you can draw on all one level if you choose to.

  • mjparker June 25, 2013, 9:45 pm

    My question is regarding the ramp vignette. Per the CODE section on the directions, the landings are to be: 1) the least dimension shall not be less than the required width of the ramp and 2) the least dimension in the direction of travel shall be 60″.

    If that is the case, the minimum ramp dimensions are 44″ wide and 60″ long, correct? And if that is the case the, youtube video by Wiki-Architecture’s ramp tutorial above wouldn’t be a passing solution because both of his ramp landings are less then 60″ in the direction of travel (I think both are just over 4′-0″). Can someone confirm if I am correct with these questions? I feel like the site and the video are giving conflicting information. Thank you.

    • josh September 23, 2014, 10:36 am

      I agree, the video is incorrect and misleading. Ramp landings need to be min. 60″ in direction of travel. ALSO, when a ramp changes direction, the least dimension needs to be min. 60″. This is true for a 90 degree turn, not just a 180 degree turn as stated in the video. So the landing in the bottom corner needs to be at least 60″ x 60″.

      • ARE BEE October 8, 2014, 9:33 pm

        We will make a new ramp video soon. thanks for pointing out the flaws, which in this case would be fatal errors. Thanks for your comment.

  • Michael June 28, 2013, 10:12 am

    Isn’t your stair vignette too narrow at 44″ as the code requires 48″ clear for stairway width when an area of refuge is required? The code says an area of refuge shall be provided.

    • ARE BEE July 1, 2013, 11:18 pm

      From the Video Author:

      There is an error on this video that should be noted:

      The program states that when an area of refuge is required the minimum clearance between handrails shall be 48″. It is important that you increase the width of the stair to account for this.

      • Cass November 16, 2014, 5:43 pm

        Yes, it is a fatal error. Unfortunately, I used these videos to practice my vignettes and made the same fatal error on my exam. So now studying for the exam a second time, I’ve come back to see what was wrong. I suggest you change this video pronto for those who might not read all the comments.

        • ARE BEE November 16, 2014, 6:35 pm

          Thanks Cass, sorry you have to take BDCS again, most people I know had to take it twice, its tough with 3 vignettes. I have replaced the video with a quick review video.

  • mjparker July 10, 2013, 8:53 pm

    Could someone please look at my earlier question about the ramp vignette landing? I feel conflicted between the Code requirements of the 60″ minimum dimension and the vignette from Wiki-Architect, which indicates the landings are around 4′-0″.


  • Rejane September 22, 2013, 10:38 pm

    Where can we find different examples and is there someone or place where we could have feed backs?


  • peter June 19, 2014, 6:51 am

    1) Stair – Width of stair MUST have 48″ clear. This means that stair width is 52″ min and that is if you align your rail on edge of stair. If you offset then it goes to 54″.

    2) Ramp – The landings need to be 60″ by 60″ with the ramps and stairs at 44″. The solution in the video discriminates against a person in a wheelchair since they end up on the opposite side of the room.

    Hope this helps, taking my final exam tomorrow after flying to a different island.

  • Bob Craig July 20, 2014, 12:06 pm

    Why not just make the stair widths 5′-0″ and match up with the landings. Is adding a few inches to the minimums a fatal error?
    Why not just use 5′-0″ on all ramp and stair widths and not worry about the exact minimums?

  • angela hernandez September 22, 2015, 1:47 am

    I’ve signed in and the stair vignette does not work. Can you please help?

    • ARE BEE September 23, 2015, 6:05 pm

      Hi Angela,

      What do you mean it does not work? Where, on NCARB, chrome doesn’t work, use Mozilla. Are you having trouble viewing the images?

  • Kelly Hanneman May 7, 2016, 10:02 am

    Looks like the stair vignette vidoe is not working. Please fix! when you click on it, it says “this video is private”.

    • ARE BEE May 10, 2016, 9:18 pm

      Fixed this, thanks for the feedback! AEA Team.

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