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How to Measure a House with Archicad

Most of my projects start with a house measure. Soon after starting Shoegnome Architects I realized the best way to measure a house was to also build the Archicad model at the same time. Previously I would spend a day at the house then half a week or more at the office constructing the Archicad model. I often needed to revisit the site to pickup missing information. Now my measures take one to three days on site. By the time I leave the client’s house at the end of the measure my Archicad model is basically done and I’m more or less ready to start design.

In this video I talk about this process, covering what I do both in and out of Archicad. How I measure has evolved now that I’m building the Archicad model at the same time, so both pieces need to be discussed.

As always there’s at least one item I forgot to mention in the video. When doing existing conditions models, sometimes I end up modeling everything as New instead of Existing. Fortunately ‘Reset Renovation Status’ is there to make that error a non-issue. See the image below.

I’d love to hear how other people measure buildings. Are you also modeling as you go? Are there any Revit users doing this? Do you measure more or less than I do? Are you using point clouds? If so, do point clouds save you time and frustration? Or do they just shift efforts back to the office? I have a strong views on existing conditions documentation and am super curious to hear other philosophies on the topic.

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  • November 8, 2022

    CJ Shumate

    I use MagicPlan and a Bluetooth laser tape to construct a solid floor plan while noting heights. In the office I bring that plan into ArchiCAD and usually find a few areas that need a second site visit.

  • November 8, 2022

    Cornelis Wegman

    Hi Jared
    A very useful video. I measure lots of houses (and sometimes bigger buildings) and found it instructive to see how you do it. Spending 3 days on establishing an as-existing models must assume a fairly generous client – fee wise! But you are right – doing it properly takes time and saves a lot of angst when it comes to designing and documenting the alterations.

    Do you have any tips on instruments for measuring? I use a laser measurer for internals, supplemented by a hand-held tape measure for details. Cloud point measuring can be carried out by some surveyors and generates incredibly accurate as-existing documents but does not explain how the building is constructed. It shows surfaces and external and internal corners and angles only.

    Thank you, Jared

  • November 8, 2022


    Hi Jared,

    Was worth watching this video just for the ‘stick’ man drawing on the roof : ) The bulk of my work (in Australia) is also renovation work and it was really good to see how similar work methods are when it comes to measuring / modelling existing conditions. I liked your tips on the back-up structure. More of what I do is single storey (not so many basements here) so the time requirement for measuring and modelling is a little less. I usually do all of my modelling back at the office as I work on a desktop, but do a lot of prep work before I go on site to measure. I also use a laser measuring tool, tape (obviously), sometimes a laser level to confirm site / interior levels and heaps of photos. It was also good to see how you model out of squareness as that’s always an issue. Appreciate your tutorial videos – have learnt a lot from them.

  • November 16, 2022

    Ingolf Sundfør

    Very useful. Greetings from Norway where we have a lot of wooden houses. Thanks from Ingolf.

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