Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by Chandler Bing
//This blog is updated in 2021//
Accurate site measurements are a necessity whether you are planning on remodelling your home, upgrading your office space or simply rearranging your furniture placement, but how can you take site measurements on your own? While the task of taking so many measurements across all the walls and dimensions may seem daunting, this task is actually much easier than you might had first imagined it to be. All it takes is to read and follow this detailed guide on site measurement, and we promise you that you will find the taking site measurements to be quite a simple task to take on.
Once you have decided to upgrade your space, the first and foremost thing to do is to measure the space you wish to work on. As complicated and confusing as it may first seem, site measurement is actually a crucial tool in construction and renovation, and is the foundation to all the subsequent work and design that will be done. It helps you communicate with your interior designer, contractor, or furniture fabricator. So by providing a detailed numerical sketch, you get closer to achieving a customized and fitting design. Remember, the more accurate your measurements, the better these professionals can do their job to match your requirements and produce the results that you have envisioned. Especially for furniture fabricator, without accurate measurements your cabinets might end up not fitting into the space entirely or leave a massive gap between it and the ceiling or the wall. This not only wastes precious space but is also glaringly ugly and a pain in the behind to fix which takes up more time, effort, and money. So to save yourself some hassle in the future it is better to take this step of measuring the space seriously and with care.
Here we have the perfect step-by-step guide to teach you how to do site measurements:
- Prepare a Floor Plan
The floor plan is at the heart of a DIY site measurement. It is a reliable resource for a DIY measurer like you and helps you understand the space you need to tackle in a holistic way. With a floor plan on hand, you can check that you have gone through every side of your space and that the measurements are done accurately. After getting hold of the floor plan, you might be tempted to start making measurements immediately. But wait! There are a few more things to do before you proceed. First, on the floor plan clearly mark where each window, door and the miniature circuit breaker should go. Also, we don’t want to be drilling on where the electrical wires, water pipes or gas pipes are, right? So do yourself a favor and remember to mark the visible switches/ sockets / data points / water points / gas points / air conditioning ducts and machines on your floor plan, so it is easier to guess how building services work in the space. If you had taken pictures of these pipework or electric circuits during the previous renovation before the wall was sealed then that’s even better as it can provide workers with accurate information of where to avoid drilling. It will also make your life easier as you can mark on the floor plan the relevant pictures instead of drawing everything by hand. However at the end of the day if you do not make the major alteration to building service then you are going to save loads of money for your project and will also cut the project time down by a lot as wall alterations takes a lot of steps and time to get done. Lastly, mark where the structural wall and structural columns are so they won’t be knocked down, as they are crucial to the building’s integrity and cannot be knocked down for the safety of everyone living in the building. The structural walls can be identified as they are usually thicker and when you knock on them they do not produce a hallow sound, also obviously all the outer walls sheltering you from the elements will also be structural walls.
Of course, the perfect scenario would be that you have the plan from the landlord or ex-tenant, but in the case where you have to find or even create one yourself, we do have the solution for you! Here we introduce two easy ways where you can get hold of a decent floor plan.
1.1 Search on the Internet
This may sound too conventional, but it will save you a lot of time. Many real estate companies provide floor plans on their website for free. For example, if you are in Hong Kong, then we recommend using Centaline Property Agency (www1.centadata.com) as it provides extensive information.
An even simpler way is to search “[Name of Your Space] + [Floor #] + [Unit #] + [Floor Plan].” For example, if you live in The Belcher’s, you can type “The Belcher’s Tower 6 11th floor plan.” Click the search result links, or simply go to the image tab and save the blueprint.
Type in some words, click a few times, and voilà, there goes your floor plan! Just be careful and double-check that you found the correct one.
1.2 Use programs or applications
If searching online cannot provide you with the necessary floor plan, then you might want to create one. MagicPlan is a free, handy application that helps you draw a floor plan. All it requires is a few photos taken on your mobile phone. As a final step do not forget to export your floor plan created on MagicPlan to dwg or pdf with dimensions listed.
1.3 Get help from the government
The government usually keeps a record of all building plans. For example, if you are residing in Hong Kong, you can refer to the HKSAR Government’s Buildings Department (http://www.bd.gov.hk/english/services/index_bic.html). You may also refer to the Hong Kong Housing Authority (https://www.housingauthority.gov.hk/en/) if your home is in a public estate. Building Information Centre provides copying service for any private buildings. Via online, use BRAVO System (https://bravo.bd.gov.hk/login.action). It requires registration.
If you prefer offline process, you can visit 13/F, Pioneer Centre, 750 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon from 9:00am to 5:00pm, from Monday to Friday. You can walk-in, but we recommend making an appointment. The fee for inspection of an electronic record is $36 per file, and copying the certified plan costs $42 while the uncertified costs $24 per sheet.
- Measure Heights
If you have your floor plan ready, congratulations, you can start your home measurements! There are a number of tools that you can make use of, but we highly recommend using a steel tape measure. Tape measures are produced in various lengths, from 3m to 10m, but if you are going to use it only at home, 5m should be enough. If it is for a larger space like a restaurant or a bar, you might want to get a longer one.
If you have a tape with you, begin with measuring the distance between the floor and the ceiling. An important tip: for an accurate measurement, stick the vertically folded metal hook of the tape to the floor. The hook can be very useful in making sure that you have correctly measured the shortest possible distance (the height) between the floor and the ceiling of your space.
Most of the time, space has a uniform height, but the heights differ by sections (e.g. different heights for bathroom and bedroom)! In such cases, don’t forget to measure each and every one of them, and keep the record organized.
Also, if a false ceiling is to be kept, measure the height of the false ceiling. Or you could measure the height of the real ceiling, and measure setting off and dimensions of all area. False ceilings also come in various types because they have different applications. So don’t forget to mark the type of false ceilings used and where the false ceilings are on your floor plan.
- Measure Lengths and Widths
Once you have finished measuring the vertical stretch of your space, you can work on the horizontal parts. This is not that different from measuring the height, but requires help from others because you cannot just put one end of the tape on the floor. Ask your friends to hold the other end of the tape for a more accurate measurement!
Remember to measure the maximum length and width first to enhance accuracy. Since beginning with the longer sides of your space will make it easier to approximate the size of your space. Note that many times walls and columns are not straight, do not worry about getting extreme accuracy, 5 mm error is generally tolerable. Minor errors will be corrected in the construction process.
- Measure Openings
We are reaching the end! When you are measuring your site to request an interior design, there is one thing you should never forget about – the openings. Pay attention to where your windows and doors are, because if you don’t, you might find your bed sitting right in front of your room’s door. Meticulous measurement of windows, doors, and other gadgets that should not be hidden, for example, your fuse box, is the key to the interior design that fits your place.
Again, using a tape measure, check the width and length of the windows and openings. Then, measure the setting off from walls and floors. Next, photo record all the framing pattern and conditions or make a video for reference.
For more tips on onsite photo-taking, read our ‘must follow guide’ on DIY photo-taking (1/2). The last step is to take note of and measure complicated bay windows’ depth and size, as well as any other special features. This way, you can be assured that your designer will put the furniture of the right size at the right spot.
- Measure Outdoor Area
Grab your gear, it’s time to step outside! The last step to DIY site measurements is checking the exterior of your space. Now you might wonder, what does the exterior have to do with interior design? It isn’t part of my property!
Yet, it is important to know the height and width of the entrances, maximum dimension capacity of the elevator, and the path from the parking lot to your space especially if there are turns and staircases. Just so to avoid any damage to your furniture when being transported, and that your furniture will fit into your site.
Indeed, not only does your space require design work, the whole design process should also be planned and executed precisely. So, never overlook the significance of outdoor measurement.
Here is a quick summary of the site measurements you need to make. You will have to measure the ceiling height and check the accuracy of plan, remeasure several key dimensions, mark beam locations, beam depth and width, opening locations and dimensions. We know, this sure sounds like a lot, and maybe somewhat intimidating. But if you follow this step-by-step guide, we guarantee that you will ace doing site measurement in no time!
Finally we have several additional tips:
- Define propose of your site measurement before put in the hours
When you are making your own floor plan, the degree of accuracy depends on the purpose. For build in furniture, the error should be less than 1cm, and you must check if all walls or floor are straight and flat. On the other hand, if you are looking to communicate with your interior designer or contractor to demolish and rebuild your place. Then 5mm error is acceptable given that the wall will be kept. If the wall will be knocked down, the error doesn’t matter at all.
- Check if ex-tenant ever modify the interior
Oftimes ex-tenant of the space might have changed the walls, openings, and elements of building services. Make sure that the floor plan you pass around is consistent with the existing area! It doesn’t have to be perfect or have too much description, but it needs to be clear, correct, and complete. Or else, your measurements will be misleading and confusing for others to work with.
- Use the plan to highlight areas that need extra attention
Maybe there is a patch of mould on ceiling, or obvious water leakage issue. You will want to mark where issues are to seek extra attention while doing project planning.
Still get confused of what kind of work should be done during site measurement? Check out the home renovation checklist HERE !
By now, you should have a better understanding of what site measurement is all about. Not only will these measurements come in handy during the design process, they are also important if you wish to sell or rent out your space! And you can always calculate the perimeter and area of your space by referring to the measurements.
Apart from learning how to take site measurement, if you want to upgrade your space, do contact with our stunning designs at archiparti!