We don’t always have a tape measure handy with us as we are walking through a client’s home, but we may not need it when it comes to approximating distances within the home. We have many ready references available to us that we can fall back upon to use as we are evaluating our client’s home.
Rather than walking into their home with a tape measure and taking the time to deploy it and measure hallways doorways and other areas which are very obvious and may generate comments or a little concern on the part of our clients, we can be much less obtrusive in obtaining the essential measurements.
When it comes to finalizing the proposal for our clients and giving them a budget, we are going to need actual measurements, but for doing an essential analysis or assessment, we can rely on many ready references that we have with us all the time to approximate these measurements. We don’t have to bring anything special with us, so let’s take a look at some of the things we have available to use.
To get started, a reference that most people are familiar with, even if they haven’t given it any thought, is the length of a bathtub. When we walk into a hallway bathroom and look through the doorway at the tub running from wall to wall at the far end of the bathroom, it is five feet or sixty inches, plus or minus, depending on any wall treatments that have been added that might encroach upon it a little bit.
Nevertheless, it’s essentially that’s five feet, and we can use that five-foot reference on a paper floor plan we are looking at by using something such as the length of a pencil, a piece of paper marked to size, or something else that we use to gauge that five-foot distance and then superimpose that on other areas of the home to tell if something is more or less than five feet. We can subdivide that measurement into halves or thirds to come up with other approximations that might be helpful to us.
Another dimension that is readily available to use is a three-foot measurement which occurs in many places in the home. The height of a typical countertop from the floor in the kitchen, and very often the bathroom, is thirty-six inches or three feet. Also, the center of the door handle on most doors is three- feet above the floor. Either dimension can be used as it is for a reference, or it can be divided in half or it into thirds to get smaller increments.
Another typical reference, but not always the case, is the height of outlets – typically installed fifteen inches above the floor. The fifteen-inch mark is where the screw is found that holds on the cover plate. This can vary, but it’s a good starting point.
Something we have with us that is not dependent on what we see in the home is our own personal set of references. Each person is going to be a little different so we need to be prepared by knowing what the dimensions of our handy references are. We should use a tape measure or stand on a yardstick and measure our shoe size – not with whether it is a size nine or ten but how many inches from the heel to the tip a shoe. Use the shoe or boot that we’re going to be wearing to the client’s home, and whatever the dimension turns out to be, we can use by doing a heel-toe-heel-toe to measure off a space.
We also can measure our forearms by bending it so that it’s ninety degrees to our upper arm and then measuring from the outside of our elbow to the tip of our longest finger. This gives us a ready reference and we can use that by laying it down in areas that we want to measure.
The span of our hands is another measurement we can use that we always have with us. We can open up either hand to a comfortable width that we can repeat again and measure the distance from the tip of the little finger to the end of the thumb. A similar reference that we have with us all the time is a closed fist – measured from the outside of the little finger knuckle to the outside of the first finger knuckle. That closed fist gives us a few inches to use again to the nearest quarter inch or whatever is comfortable for us to give us a rough idea of the dimensions of something.
There are other quick references as well, but these will give us some easy ways to look at the client’s home, size it up, make some notations, and easily tell if a hallway is less than we need to be, if the space between an outside or perimeter cabinet and the island or opposite cabinet is what we want it to be, or generally being able to look at various features in the home and determine what size they are without getting out our tape measure every time.