Even the average Stanford MBA student probably knows the carpentry saying that goes: “Measure twice, cut once.” It’s a way that journeymen in the trades try to ensure that the apprentices don’t rush the work – and that they avoid mistakes that can’t be corrected.
If you apply the same idea – care and extra attention when you measure existing conditions for your kitchen and bath remodeling work – it will pay off for you. A series of your dimensions put in a row will add up, your plans will make sense and the work will be buildable.
Equally important, you won’t get that phone call from the concrete subcontractor at the site: “Er…I don’t know how to tell you this, but the south wall at the dining room is 12 inches shorter than what you show on the demolition plan.”
Ah yes, the joys of the poorly dimensioned job.
You may not be able to get everything perfect when you first measure things, but there are procedures you can put in place, along with a few tools you can bring along, that will all help you to minimize problems.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Let’s start with the basics. Get a good quality tape measure – by all means, the kind with a built-in laser if you prefer – that will digitally figure out lengths. But the old type with feet and inches printed on the tape blade still works fairly well, too.
Actually, take along two tape measures. Yep, keep a spare in your car; tapes do break, and that’s the last thing you want to be without after you’ve made the trip out to the job site. Oh, and it’s good if your tapes are the 25- or 30-foot-long variety – long enough to measure big rooms, but still small enough to slip into your bag or your jacket pocket if needed.
And pen and paper, right? Well, yes and yes, but that’s not all you may want to have with you these days.
Maybe you’ve been putting off buying a smart phone or a tablet. Do yourself a favor, go out and get one. Today. If anything in your working week requires measuring (and then doing something with those dimensions), these devices can change your life.
Taking pictures of what you’re measuring is a huge help. Not only will it remind you of what your tape was doing, but more importantly, photographs can help to jog your memory as to where things are in relation to each other. That quad electrical outlet under the guest bedroom window may have four or more measurements around it on your sheet of notes. With a photo to help you when you’re drawing things up, it may be much easier to figure out what’s what.
Then there are “The Apps.” They are taking over the planet, aren’t they?
There are some very convenient measuring applications, some of which you can use to manually add dimensions right onto photographs. How cool is that?
Even if you don’t use this kind of app for your initial full measure, they can be invaluable for the odd corner, the electrical switch location or window height that you didn’t catch the first time around. With an iPad or similar tablet, you can just take a photo and enter multiple dimensions right into the photograph. Even better, you can send the shot to your stone people to remind them about the hood height off the countertop deck.
In a year or two, there may well be more software that will have built-in measurements embedded in the actual photo. For now you have to enter them by hand, but this kind of application is surely not far away!
There are lots of things to think about when you’re measuring, so write them down! Especially the weird stuff – a jog in a foundation, a masonry chase behind a cooktop that goes up into the bedroom upstairs. Measure and take a snapshot with your phone.
Watch out, too, for door and window locations, and their relationship to each other. Part of good design is where openings are, the size of them in proportion to the whole house, how they align to each other and how they relate to the room layout. Measure them all, so that when you’re back at your desk, you’ll know which ones need to change and which can stay.