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, there are few designers who 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.

In this feature, we’ll share some tips and tricks for avoiding this dilemma, and a seventeen-step checklist that will ensure your site surveys are complete.

Top Tips for a Sweat-free Site Survey
Click like crazy

Ask your client for permission to take a stack of photos. They may feel a little insecure about exposing their cabinet innards, but assure them you’ve seen worse (because you probably have!), and take photos of all the information you know will be handy down the track. Remember to take a good photo of the overall space so you’ll have an excellent before and after to share in your folio when the job’s done.

Give your client a time-out

You’ve probably spent the last hour discussing your clients wish list, and you may have even mediated some marital conflicts, too. When it comes time to measure, though, it’s a good idea to suggest your clients feel free to get on with their day while you do your thing. When the tape measure is out, you won’t want to be talking: concentration is key to catching all the details. If your client insists on helping, make sure you’re at the heavy end of the tape, and don’t trust them to read you the correct dimensions.

Love your list

Checklists are fantastic tools for foggy minds. Develop a checklist template to take to every project. Highlight the items you’re most likely to forget, and run through the list before you leave the property. The following checklist will be a good start, but you may find you need to adjust it to suit your measure up methods.

Seventeen Steps to a Comprehensive Site Survey
  1. Take photographs: overall shot + each individual wall + waste pipes/exits + cornice detail + reminders as required.
  2. Check orientation (which way is North?).
  3. Measure the overall length and width of space.
  4. Record the length of each wall.
  5. Record ceiling height and cornice detail.
  6. Note the width and height of each entry/door (recording door swing direction + adjoining rooms/spaces).
  7. Record width and height of each window (noting distance from floor to bottom of architrave and/or bottom of opening + opening type/direction + outlook/aspect from each window).
  8. Note architrave detail (width of frames + profile).
  9. Record fixed architectural elements (fireplaces, built-in shelving etc.)
  10. Note the location of electrical power outlets.
  11. Note position of light switches and existing switching pattern.
  12. Note plumbing outlets.
  13. Note heating/cooling fixtures.
  14. Document and photograph existing furniture to be retained in the space (note dimensions, door swings etc.)
  15. Document and photograph existing appliances/fixtures to be used (note dimensions, door swings etc.).
  16. Note existing flooring details.
  17. Document existing paint colours (if relevant).

By following the above, you’ll be sure to have all you need to get to work as soon as you’re back in the studio.

Surveys and Existing Floor Plans

If you’ve already read through this year’s KBDi Designer Awards Entry Pack (kudos to you!), you’ll know that we’ve added a new requirement for entries in 2019.

When reviewing your kitchens and bathrooms, judges have often noted that an ‘existing plan’ would give them a greater perspective on the challenges set out for the designer, along with their resolutions of such challenges and improvements of an existing space.

If your project is a new build, this entry requirement will be satisfied with a copy of the plan originally issued to you by the builder/building designer/architect.

If your entry is a renovated space, a comprehensive site survey (covering the elements above) will do the trick.

Learn more about the KBDi Designer Awards here.