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Alternate dimensions

This weekend, I took on a task I’ve been avoiding for some time: drawing floor plans of our new home. When people learn that you’re an architect, they tend to assume that you walk around with plans of your house in your back pocket, ready to whip out at a moment’s notice. Not true; it’s cobbler’s shoes syndrome. A quick survey of my colleagues revealed that exactly zero of us had drawn up their place of residence.

Some architects have little patience for recording the existing conditions of a house. I feel that it’s worth the time and effort to document everything accurately. I measure to the nearest 1/8th of an inch. There’s no rocket science at work here. After roughly sketching the plans, I bust out a tape measure and start jotting down dimensions. The end result of this process is often messy:

Hand drawn plans

After taking hundreds of measurements, the sketches get put into the computer. Using CAD drafting software, I translate the chicken scratch of the measuring process into legible plans.  Inevitably, there are places where rooms don’t quite come together, or dimensions on one side of the house are different than another. This is partially due to the fact that construction is an imperfect process. In an ideal world, a house is square, level and plumb; in reality, they rarely are. Typically, the older the house, the more these discrepancies become magnified. As wood-framed buildings age, they shrink, sag, twist and turn. And in this case, there is a Bermuda Triangle for dimensions just outside the upstairs hall bathroom.  There are two inches missing there.  I looked for them for hours, measuring from every different direction, and they’re just…gone.  Somehow, the house is torqued or racked or something, and I can’t get the dimensions in that area to come together neatly, whatever I do.  Eventually, I had to ignore my  anal-retentive proclivities in the name of sanity.

The end result of all this tedium are plans like these (click on the image to see a larger, more legible version):

Floor plans

With HVAC planning about to start, these drawings will come in handy as contractors do load calculations and map out duct routes. And the next time somebody asks me for plans of my house, I might just have them in my back pocket.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Leslie #

    Old houses are like old people. We too shrink, sag, twist, and turn. Especially the sag part.

    December 10, 2012
  2. Anonymous #

    I love that you are doing this!

    December 11, 2012


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