Our April ‘One Question Wednesday’ survey touched on the three core parts of a design delivery: the site survey (or measure up), the concept presentation and the working drawings.

As always, those who contributed offered honest commentary and some excellent advice. We’ll cover concept presentations and working drawings in another article, but here’s what our members had to say about measure ups.

A comprehensive site survey – combined with a detailed client brief – is an essential cog in the wheel of an efficient and effective design process.

While many won’t admit it, few designers haven’t experienced the distress caused by a missing dimension or overlooked detail. Hours of design time can be lost scouring through photos, analysing scribble and playing the detective in an attempt to work out what was missed in the measure up.

To start with, we asked our members which tools they use most often for kitchen or bathroom site surveys.

Only 12% of the respondents said they use a standard old-school tape measure. More of the bunch – 83% – use a laser and tape combination, while just 6% put all their faith in a laser measure. (Note: we’ve asked members to share their particular favourites – brands and all – in the private Facebook group. Jump in and have a peek or add your pics if you haven’t already.)

Top three challenges
We asked the Members to share which aspect of measuring up they find most challenging.

#1 Talkative Clients
Not surprisingly, the key complaint noted was dealing with clients chatting during the process. Concentration is key to catching all the details required in a comprehensive site survey. Following are some of the strategies employed by your fellow designers, along with a few of our top tips:

  • Be direct: let the client know you’ll need x-minutes of quiet time to capture all information required. (See note below about timing.)
  • Suggest they get on with their day so you ‘don’t hold them up, and let them know you’ll sing out if you need a hand.
  • Use this time to share your folio with the clients – hand them a hard copy presentation and some post-it notes, and ask them to (quietly) consider the things they love and hate about particular projects.
  • Get the clients to complete a survey about their wants and needs while you’re measuring. Yes, you may have covered this in your initial discussions, but their written confirmation could be helpful in confirming the brief.

#2 Time Limitations
Rushing through a measure-up is a sure-fire way to miss essential dimensions. Allow yourself ample time to:

  • Sketch out a mud-map of the overall space, including dimension lines for the essential details. (Having your ‘must-gets’ pre-empted in this way means you’re less likely to miss them.)
  • Measure methodically in one direction (e.g. clockwise) around the room.
  • Double-check each measurement and tally up overall lengths/heights.

#3 Measuring angles and curves
Measuring angles and curves is an enormous challenge for the best of us. We have a few members who deem themselves Pythagoras pros, and we’re going to challenge them to make us a video. (Make sure you’re a part of the private Facebook group so you can be the first to see it.) The less mathematically minded amongst our community swear by their angle finders – if you don’t already have one, an investment of between $40 and $150 could save you a tonne of time and hassle.

Finally, we asked the members to share their top measuring tips for less-experienced designers, and the following gems should be noted:

  • Take photos of every wall, the floor AND the ceiling. 
  • Take a photo of the final site survey sketch to ensure you have a digital copy on file.
  • Don’t shoot your laser at a glossy surface and expect an accurate result – carry some masking tape with you to provide a dull end measuring point.
  • Colour code your trades: use a different colour for electrical and plumbing references.
  • Have a comprehensive checklist and USE IT!

We know you’re a busy lot, and not everyone has time to contribute. Those of you who do, however, are hugely appreciated. Your generous advice and honest commentary help us design and curate useful and relevant PD and articles like the above. Your five-minute response could be a game-changer for an industry newbie – thank you!

Hey, did we miss something? Add your comments below.