How to carry out a measured building survey?

If you want to undertake a measured building survey yourself, a laser distance meter can be an extremely handy and accurate tool. Laser measures come in smaller and larger sizes, with a variety of functions to suit homeowners and tradespeople or professionals: laser distance meters are frequently used by electricians, estate agents, contractors, surveyors, insurance loss adjusters, flooring professionals, plumbers, and the like for the everyday accurate measuring of buildings.

To use a laser distance meter, you simply line it up from the end of what you want to measure (a wall, say, or a doorway). You then aim the laser beam at the point to which you want to measure- another wall or a window frame, for instance. Once the laser is aimed at the correct place, you simply press a button, and using the seemingly magical technologies developed by physicists, the laser distance meter will display the length of the space you’re measuring on the screen. Some laser distance meters also include calculator functions, thus enabling you to add distances together, or to work out volumes and areas very quickly, which is perfect if you’re creating a floor plan or you need to calculate how much material you’ll need for a new carpet, for example.

There are plenty of advantages to using a laser distance meter over a traditional tape measure. This digital laser technology allows you to work quickly and efficiently, without the inaccuracies caused by tape measures that aren’t straight or lined up properly. It also allows you to work alone- conventional tape measures really need two people. If you’re measuring roof height, it’s next to impossible without a digital tape measure. Reading a digital display is also easier than checking lines on a conventional tape measure, and of course the calculator function provided on some models is invaluable.

Once you’ve got your laser distance meter and you’re confident using it, you’re ready to do your measured building survey. For this, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got paper, a clipboard, and a pen to hand, as you’ll need to write down all of your measurements really clearly and carefully. If you’re an architect, this process is second nature, but for most amateur surveyors, you will need to be careful to ensure high levels of accuracy. Some spare batteries, a camera, a traditional tape measure and work boots/a high visibility jacket might also come in handy depending on the location, too.

It pays to look around the whole building first, if you’re not already familiar with it. As you come to measure each room, sketch it out first on your paper, and add your measurements to the sketches as you go. Working in different colours for windows, steps, and wall heights can be useful so you don’t get confused by your sketches later.

As you carry out your measured building survey, you will need to be methodical. As you begin measuring, start at the door and work consistently either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the room, so you don’t miss anything. You will need to measure window heights, floor thickness (try around the stairs), wall thickness, elevations, and roof height and angle, too. Take as many measurements as you can, and then lots of photos too to help with the interpretation of your results when you’re done.

While it’s perfectly possible to carry out your own survey for DIY purposes, when it comes to planning permits, you will need a measured building survey from a qualified and professional measured buidling surveyor. Architects too will require accurate technical drawings which can only be produced by a professional.

Published by

Bhavesh Ramburn

Commercial Manager - Quantity Surveyor with 10+ years in the construction industry.

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