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How to create a Floor Plan of your Space

One of the first steps to a successful design project is to understand the space where it will take place.

While it can be easier when you are working with new construction and have a "blank slate," most often we need to examine existing space to determine possibilities as well as limitations.

Often we will ask a potential client to provide some type of preliminary layout and photos to help us understand what type of project we will be working with as well as to provide an idea of scope.

If you happen to live locally in the Chicago area, we can assist with this process if needed through an in-person consultation and site visits. If your project work will be all "virtual," this is particularly important so we can provide you with the most accurate documentation to guide your process.

Ultimately, we can help create a professional "existing base plan" for you as part of our process and documentation so we just need your help to get us started!

There are several ways you can go about developing a plan layout, some ways easier than others. We highlight some of your options below to get you started.

Option 1. Check if Existing Plans are already available

Real Estate Marketing Plans

If your home has been listed for sale recently there may be real estate marketing plans available to provide a starting point. Sometimes these can also be found on real estate websites or check with your agent to see if this is the case. Developers will often create brochures containing floor plans which can work as well.

Builder or Architect

Depending on the age of your home, you can contact the Builder, Developer, or Architect to see if they have kept your plans on record.

Most newer construction and major renovation projects where permits were issued would have required architectural plans to be submitted to a local governing body as well. These can be a great starting point and can also help you understand your home's history.

Option 2. Hire someone to measure and create plans for you

If you don't want to take on this process yourself, there are other options including companies who can come out and create basic plans for you. The costs for those services may vary. If you you are planning to sell or rent your home this could also be a good option.

Some of these services include Matterport, Best Floor Plans, and Just Floor Plans. Real estate agents may also know of local resources who can help.

Also, don't forget that if we are hired to work with you on a project we can help you with this because we always start with existing base plans.

Option 3. Use an online app or floor planner tool to help

There are quite a few mobile and online apps to help you measure and create space plans. One great example is Magic Plan which has an Android and iOS app available.

This program provides different ways you can save, export and send plans created as well tools to help generate them.

There are also digital measurement tools to facilitate getting the dimensions. Have an iPhone or newer iPad Pro? These contain a LIDAR sensor (Lidar stands for light detection and ranging) which can digitally scan your space in 3D with amazing precision. Plus there are companies that can then generate plans and 3D models for you from these scans. One example is Canvas.

If you are a tech guru these may be worth checking out!

Option 4. Sketch out a plan layout yourself (DIY)

The easiest method may be do a basic sketch of the room shape and take measurements yourself. My suggestion is to go room by room and then you can combine the information for the adjacent areas next.

  1. Go around the room with a tape measure and record dimensions of all the walls (width and height). Using a helper can be very helpful!

  2. Measure ceiling height and if there are areas in room that change height measure those too (for example a soffit that can exist for ductwork)

  3. Include the the dimensions of all openings, windows, doors including their height, width and window sill height from the floor.

  4. Make note of permanent fixtures, trim, outlets, switches, or other important elements that could affect a design.

  5. If you are doing a kitchen or bath project note water supplies (and shut off) plus utility connections like the electrical circuit box or gas line for stove.

  6. Next photograph* each major wall (plus the ceiling and floor where needed) of the room to include as much detail as you can including any architectural features, built-in elements, and anything else that could affect design decisions. You can also do a short video if that helps you communicate the room information.

  7. Prepare your sketches, documents and images to be able to send electronically. You may need to scan some documents to a PDF or image file type - most current printers have this capability and even some smart phone apps. If you have some larger files (or a lot of them) to send, utilizing a file share program like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive can be helpful to organize and then you can send a link or sharing invitation.

* Photographs are a crucial element in the process (as they say a picture is worth a thousand words). These can help clarify elements that you may not know how to document otherwise.

Hopefully these tips will get you started and feel free reach out if you need more assistance!


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