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Tools to Measure Rooms / Draw Floor Plans

October 13th, 2011

As a listing agent or assistant, it's likely you have a need to measure rooms accurately, quickly and efficiently  -- whether you're going to actually draw a floor plan or not.

Dragging a tape measure around can be a true pain-in-the-butt exercise; especially if you are going to split "open" rooms.  With a hand-held device you can measure one side of the "split" and then rotate in place and shoot the other side of the split.... its useful to then capture the combined length of the space so you can check your math on the "splits" --- but way easier than dragging a tape.

I use a steel tape (16') and a laser measurer (called the Leica Distometer) that is about the size of a brick (not as heavy, tho) and cost $500 some years ago. Now the units are down to about $200-ish and are about the size of a Baby Ruth candy bar.  EEEPS!  $200 is still kind of pricey for some.

So lets look at some alternatives available for a lower cost:

+    Yardstick or folding yardstick - which may have an  advantage over a steel tape as the tape will droop if you have to span space

+     Doppler Measurer - in Home Depot/Lowes for $20 to $30-ish and makes a soft clicking sound as it uses sound waves to obtain measurement

+     Doppler Measurer w/Laser Sight - in Home Depot/Lowes for $30-$40-ish and has the addition of a laser pinpoint that illuminates on your target so you can "see" what is being measured. 

I started with the standard Doppler and went back and returned it and got the one with the Laser sight.
WHY? Well, there are frequent occasions when you are trying to hit a specific point ... maybe the edge of a door jamb at the end of a long hallway.. and without the laser sight illuminating the target you don't know "what" is being measured and it could well be recording a target PAST the door jamb and into the other room....and that would be bad.

-AND-    See if there is any app for your phone that will just measure space .... an app that will let you point-and-shoot and record the result??  I can see how that would be handy to have in your phone.

For most Realtors, the Doppler w/the Laser sight is probably your best bet.

Be aware that because the Doppler units  measure with "sound" an environment that disrupts sound will render it darn difficult (if not impossible) to work with.....

+     Many Dining Rooms have (huge) pier mirrors and even though you are not shooting into the mirror, but shooting along it ... the mirror will reflect the sound waves and distort your reading

+     Properties under construction ... FORGETTA ABOUT IT .. or only measure when the whole crew is on lunch break... with no interior furnishings, carpeting or draperies in there to absorb sound... every little tap tap tap with a hammer chases itself around the room and echoes ... and you have a FAT CHANCE of getting any sort of usable reading.

They were putting the roof on and so I had to take my measurements between their rhythm .. so it went RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT --PUSH BUTTON and then RUN ACROSS ROOM to Next Measure Point; then RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT --PUSH BUTTON and then RUN ACROSS ROOM to Next Measure Point; then RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT-TAT --PUSH BUTTON and then RUN ACROSS ROOM to Next Measure Point ... I felt like I was in a "Lucy" episode and by telling you this, I hope to spare you moments like those.

+     Swimming pools ... trying to measure across the top of a pool or spa, the sound will be reflected by the water and be disrupted.

Depending on your measuring needs, there are a variety of tools available to give you a good result. So hopefully the above is helpful; if I can help you or answer any questions I'm happy to do that.

Thanks for Stopping By,


Judith, The Floor Plan Lady

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Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®
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