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Help Surveying a Home

spaceghost's picture

Hello Folks,

I am buying a 1900 sq. ft. 4br, 1.5bath colonial home.  Its a diamond in the rough and my architect will be helping me design our future gem.  One of the things that I will need to do is have the house surveyed (not yet the land but only the home and room dimensions).  The architect can do it for around a grand but I wanted to see if this is something that I could do.  He mentioned it should be down to a quarter of an inch.

Is this a difficult task?  I am assuming that its something I could do but I dont want to spend the whole day doing measurements only to find out its inadequate.  There is also a surveyor I found who would take care of the house surveying for $500. 

Comments / opinions, feedback and advice would be tremendously appreciated.  Also, if there are any links to help and get me started, please let me know.

Thanks and Cheers!

p.s.  Apologies if I posted this in the wrong section...

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This is as good a place as (post #206311, reply #2 of 7)

edit: deleted duplicate

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

This is as good a place as (post #206311, reply #1 of 7)

This is as good a place as any to post this.

There's nothing especially difficult about measuring your house, but honestly I'm surprised he has even given you the option since this is almost always done by the architect since it's an important step. If this is something you're pressuring the architect on to save money be carefull that you're not becoming a problem client or you'll pay for it down the road in higher design fees - he's not stupid and won't want to do a project for a problem client for the same price as someone who is more reasonable to work with.

If you do it yourself beware that if you screw up the dimensions he'll come out, get the correct measurements and you'll get charged for his time not only for the measurements but also for the rework on the designs already completed with the wrong dimensions so if you do it, do it well.

It's simply a matter of going around the house in a systematic way copying down the dimensions in all diections following drafting conventions - you don't know exactly what he needs so it will take some of his time to explain it to you - expect to get billed for any and all hours he has to spend with you regardless of how short the conversations are. Each arch handles this differently, but if you are lucky he will only charge for the actual time and not round up to half or whole hours. See how this can add up?

You'll run into problems with odd width walls, odd shaped areas, roof pitch, framing spans/depths/materials/designs/supports, plumbing, mechanical systems, hard to reroute electrical, and leaving out some important information that you just don't recognise at this point as being significant. Having said that, there are all sorts of things archs normally don't investigate fully and it's common to have to adjust for the unknown as the remodel goes along.

When I have my contractor hat on and if you were my client I wouldn't allow you to handle this step - it normally causes problems with the architect, wastes my time, wastes your time and takes what should be a simple step and makes it more difficult than it should be.

On the other hand if it were my house I'd want to take the measurements since my measurements are almost always more accurate than those of the architect.

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

Any competent building (post #206311, reply #3 of 7)

Any competent building draftsman can do an as-built drawing of your home and usually a lot faster than the architect will. In reality the architect is going to have one of his own draftsmen come do it or will hire someone else. And yes, there will be mistakes. In 40 years I've never had an architectually drawn set of plans that didn't have major errors.

Florida Licensed Building Contractor, 50 years experience in commercial remodeling, new homes, home remodeling and repairs and all types building maintenance.

Thank you both for this (post #206311, reply #4 of 7)

Thank you both for this feedback.  I will look into finding a competent draftsmen and see how much they will charge to do this.  I also agree with you that because this is something that involves a degree of skill, its best to leave it to someone who has experience in this.

I want to chip in as much as I possibly can but I will probably do mostly grunt work as thats something I cant srew up.  The other trades I will leave up to the professionals.


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When you hire a draftsman to (post #206311, reply #5 of 7)

When you hire a draftsman to do this rather than having your architect handle it, YOU are taking on the responsibility that it's done correctly and YOU will be billed for any time the architect needs to rectify mistakes and there are always mistakes.   Hopefully it all works out, but unless you spend a lot of time looking into the past work of the draftsman, which most people don't, you're shooting in the dark.

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

Of course, one way or the (post #206311, reply #6 of 7)

Of course, one way or the other the architect will manage to bill you for his mistakes too.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Good point Dan!  lol   It's (post #206311, reply #7 of 7)

Good point Dan!  lol   It's just as important to understand what the arch is doing wrong as well as right!   This is where homeowners are at a disadvantage and the value added of an experienced gc shines. 

I have yet to build a set of prepared plans that I don't make changes to during the build, with the archs blessing, since a gc works longer and closer with a client and it would be doing the client a disservice if I didn't tweak things to better meet their expectations.

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)