Professional, Remodel-Addition, Stories

Capturing As-Built Measurements for Remodel Projects

The as-built home with an overlay drawing of the proposed remodel and addition.

By Kendra Dorosh

How do remodeling professionals capture as-built measurements?  Paper, Napkin, App, or Laptop software?  Chief Architect software surveyed remodelers and found 75% measure as-built homes by hand using paper and pencil.  The compounding effects of repetition have made this an efficient process. If the system works, why change?

What is an As-Built plan?

The As-Built plan refers to the original condition of the house before remodeling. Remodeling projects and home additions start with as-built measurements, also called red-line drawings or record drawings. It’s vital to map out the as-built plan as precisely as possible.

In August 2019, Chief Architect surveyed over 50 remodelers asking three key remodeling questions:

1) How do you get your As-Built Measurements?   

2) How do you import As-Built Measurements into Chief Architect

3) What is your biggest need for Remodeling software?

1. For Remodeling Projects, how do you get your As-Built Measurements?

75% of remodelers measure as-built homes by hand using paper and pencil from the survey responses.  Less than 8% use software.  Reasons people are not using software vary, but many cite the efficiency of using technology at a client’s home. 

There are many specialty apps designed to capture as-built measurements, the majority of people are still finding the most success with taking these measurements by hand and then later importing them into their remodeling software. Remodelers can simply do it faster on paper than struggling with a tablet app and they want to avoid being in a client’s home any longer than necessary.  A detailed checklist for as-built measurements helps to avoid missing key information.  You will find an As-Built Checklist below from David Heimann. 

Respondents said they have tried one or more of the various mobile applications designed specifically for capturing as-built measurements. The overwhelming consensus seems to be that these apps can be frustrating because they cannot model real-life remodel conditions, such as misaligned walls, multiple stories, vaulted ceilings, etc.  In fact, Chief Architect discontinued its own Room Planner app because it lacked the sophistication of Chief Architect’s desktop version.  And now that laptops, such as the Microsoft Surface, are easily portable and work with Bluetooth lasers, remodelers have access to Chief Architect’s most powerful software for as-built measurements and conditions. 

Survey Results for how re modelers are getting their as-built measurements.

2. Do you import As-Built Measurements into Chief Architect Software? 

Just over 30% of respondents that use software for As-Built measurements import it into Chief Architect. Many manually input the measurements due to compatibility, such as files that are created as images, pdfs or proprietary formats.

Survey results for whether or not remodelers are importing their as-built measurements into software.

3. What is your biggest need for Remodeling software?

The most commonly cited request for remodeling software is help to isolate the “as-built” from “new” in a remodel project.  In the construction drawings, people want to show walls that will be removed or how a new addition will be overlaid on the home.  Some building departments may require the as-built overlay.  A similar overlay in 3D could help the remodeler show the client how the new project compares to the current as-built.  Chief Architect’s reference display can accomplish both of these tasks for overlaying an as-built in 2D & 3D – you can see how in this summary video

At Chief Architect, we’re always striving to keep up with the latest trends in the remodeling industry, so that we can provide the best remodeling software available. Remodeling software enhancements are an important focus which is why we asked the survey questions and we will continue to ‘remodel’ our software.  Thank you to our customers who took the time to answer the survey questions! Leave a comment below to let us know how you’re capturing your as-built measurements.

Remodeling Resources

How-to resources on remodeling using Chief Architect software

  • Learn how to configure a Leica wireless Bluetooth laser meter with Chief Architect to help improve your as-built capture process
  • Learn to use reference display to show as-built, demo and new construction components in plan views and 3D views
  • Remodeling video playlist

As-Built-Existing Plan Checklist

Have you ever spent hours on-site only to get home to your drafting table or software to realize that you’re missing key information or measurements? The table below was provided to us from David Heimann at East Wind Designs

Checklist for Capturing As-Built - Exterior
Take Pictures of Exterior Elevations
Take Pictures of Exterior Perspectives
Take Pictures of Site, Lot, Terrain, Vegetation
Exterior Wall Thickness
Siding Material and Size
Ext. Window and Door Trim Material and Size
Locate all Ext. windows and doors
Locate Utilities, Meter Location, Electric (overhead, bury, etc.)
Phone, etc.
Foundation Type, Size, Height Above Grade
Roof Pitch and Material
Sketch Elevations (Exterior)
Sketch Perimeter of Building or Dimension Google Earth Image
Site plan- Google Earch, MTCADASTRAL, Survey, etc.
Locate and Dimension as Needed to Fill in Missing Info
Decks- Locate on Sketch, Note Railing Height, Spacing, Height above Grade and Related to Subfloor
Exterior Stairs, Locate on Sketch, Note Riser Height and Tread
Checklist for Capturing As-Built - Interior
Take Pictures of Interior Elevations
Take Pictures of Ceilings
Take Pictures of Floors
Interior Wall Thickness
Interior Wall Finish (Gyp. Bd, Plaster, etc.)
Sketch Floor Plan
Locate Interior Doors, Note Sizes on Sketch
Interior Door and Window Trim (Size, Material, Finish, Window Coverings)
Base trim (Size, Material and Finish)
Crown Molding (Size, Material and Finish)
Flooring Type (Per Room, Note on Sketch)
Fireplace-Locate and Detail on Sketch
Vaulted Ceilings- Which Room, Height at Peak
Ceiling Height(s), Note on Sketch Per Room
Cabinets (Locate, Describe and Detail on Sketch)
Stairs-Locate on Sketch, Note: Rise, Run, Tread and Riser Height
Checklist for Capturing As-Built - Electrical and Plumbing Fixtures, HVAC
Outlet Locations (Kitchen and Bath)
Electrical Panel (Interior) Location
Switch Location and Lead to FIXTURE
Light Fixture and Locations
Furnace/Heat Source- Type, Size, Location
Water Heater
Plumbing Fixtures Located on Sketch

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Contest Winners, Design Contest, Remodel-Addition

Award-Winning Condominium Remodel from The Queen of Colour, Gabriele Pizzale

Portrait of Gabriele Pizzale of Pizzale Design Inc.

By: Kerry Hansen

Gabriele Pizzale designs spaces that reflect the people who enjoy them, perfectly tailored down to the last detail.

“Gabriele Pizzale is the founder and principal designer of Pizzale Design Inc. in Oakville, Canada. She graduated with a degree in Fashion Design from Ryerson University in Toronto and then started her firm 25 years ago. Gabriele is known for creating spaces that are, above all, fashionable. Her love of fabrics and meticulous detail is always evident in her designs, as is her talent for mixing colors and patterns to create perfectly curated spaces. In the realm of interior design, she is known as the Queen of Colour.”

“Gabriele is always eager to learn new things. She purchased Chief Architect software over 18 years ago and taught herself how to use it. One day she hit the camera button by accident and it changed her life!  The 3D option was a revelation. Now that this feature was revealed, she took the online tutorials and live course. This has quite literally changed her business. Showing clients what their space will look like before it is built is a magical tool!”

Chief Architect has quite literally changed my business. Showing clients what their space will look like before it is built is a magical tool!

Gabriele Pizzale, Pizzale Design Inc.

Gabriele recently placed first in the August 2019, Chief Architect Remodel and Addition Contest with her Oakville, Ontario condominium remodel. “The wishlist from the client was to upgrade their existing space with a transitional style and offer more space to socialize. Utilizing their large windows and fireplace, along with an addition to expand their existing space, we focused on maximizing their current space with an open concept layout between the kitchen and living room setting. It was also important to focus on the small details by incorporating custom pieces such as the pillows, drapery, and millwork with an integrated built-in bench under the window.” 

Winning Design

We are thrilled to be a part of Gabriele’s design process. Thank you to Gabriele and her team for sharing your story with the Chief Architect community. View more elegant interior designs from Gabriele of Pizzale Design Inc. below.

A bathroom design that incorporates clean lines, uncluttered counter spaces and geometric shapes with African inspired artwork.
The Fern Bathroom Design
A bathroom design that incorporates clean lines, uncluttered counter spaces and geometric shapes with African inspired artwork.
The Fern Bathroom Design
Open concept kitchen and dining room with a modern feel.
The Modern Streb Kitchen Design
A welcoming kitchen that mixes rich fabrics with clean white cabinetry and sleek counter tops.
The Crase Kitchen Design
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Professional, Remodel-Addition

August’s Remodel/Addition Design Contest Winners

Elevation view showing the as-built and the remodel.

Congratulations to our three Chief Architect Remodel/Addition Design Contest Winners!

Thank you all for sharing your designs with us and our community.

1st Place

Design by Gabriele Pizzale of Pizzale Design Inc. using Chief Architect Interiors X9.

2nd Place

Design by Kaylen Eckert of Port City Design & Build using Chief Architect Premier X11. 

3rd Place

Design by Mark Supanchick of 3DSpaceplans using Chief Architect Premier X11.

September’s contest is Kitchen/ Bath & Interior Design. Submit your Design!

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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Remodel-Addition

Jerry Heckendorn Places First with His Craftsman Style Addition

Layout sheet of a residential second story addition and interior remodel.

By Emily Black

Jerry wins 1st place in the Chief Architect Remodel/Addition Design Contest. His level of detail and craftsmanship show his passion and experience.

Jerry Heckendorn
Jerry Heckendorn

“Soon to be 63 years old, I was born and raised in the Detroit Metropolitan area.  After high school, I attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1980 from the School of Architecture with my Bachelor of Science in Architecture.  Shortly after graduation, I married my beautiful and brilliant high school sweetheart, Debbie, who often helps me when I’m struggling with project designs… and is also my best critic (soon to be celebrating our 39th anniversary!). 

“Debbie and I bought our first home right after getting married, a fixer-upper, where I completed my very first residential reno design.  When I submitted my plans to the St. Clair Shores Building Department for the building permit, the Building Inspector called me and asked who prepared the documents and shared how impressed he was (you may not remember or know that this was before the advent of Computer Aided Design for Architecture, so everything was drawn by hand back then).  Shortly after, I was contacted by several of what became my first ‘paying’ clients.

“Several years later, knowing that a graduate degree would be required if I was to become a registered architect, I was accepted and enrolled in Lawrence Technological University’s unique, graduate-level ‘BArch’ architectural degree program recognized by the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) (at the time, LTU’s BArch degree program was the only non-Masters program accepted by the AIA to meet the licensing requirement).  I completed my graduate thesis on the “Design and Development of Comprehensive Health Care Facilities.”

“Graduating with my BArch degree in 1983, I took a job with a local architectural firm where I spent most of my time as a ‘go-for’ for the owner and principal architect.  I was charged with taking a lot of as-built dimensions of existing residential and small commercial structures along with providing a number of as-built drawings for the firm but never was permitted to work on any ‘design’ projects.  Staying in touch with a friend I made in my thesis class, we decided to give it a go together and formed an architectural design firm called Hensel & Heckendorn (my partner won the straw draw, so his last name went first)!  We worked on several projects together before succumbing to an economy that had taken a turn for the worse.  We chose to go our separate ways and I ended up taking a job as an Engineer with General Motors Corporation.

A residential second story addition and interior remodel.
“I was quickly blown away with everything Chief Architect software and customer support had to offer!”

“As architecture, particularly residential architecture, has been and will always be my absolute passion, I’ve had the fortune of a very successful, albeit moonlighting, a career spanning over 38 years.  Everything from residential additions, renovations, new single-family residence projects ranging from small to large (largest to date has been a 4,800 square foot 2-story with, believe it or not, a 2-lane bowling alley located under a 5-car garage, complete with gutters and pinsetters), as well as several small to large commercial projects.  Ironically, at the time I was to lose my father to cancer, I was actually commissioned to design a rather large Funeral Home.  Unfortunately, the timing was such that we lost my father before the project was completed, however, the clients who then became friends took very good care of my family through the process of saying ‘goodbye’.  One of the very unique and wonderful outcomes of the ‘residential’ design profession is the amazing opportunity to meet, and often become friends of the clients we work with!  Though I am currently not a registered architect, when necessary, I will collaborate with one of my college professors as well as my old business partner who are both licensed to practice architecture in Michigan.

“Somewhere in the middle of my moonlight business, Computer Aided Architectural Design (CAAD) software programs began to pop up and caught my intrigue.  As a family-proclaimed tech geek, I saw the potential CAAD had for my architectural work.  AutoCAD was the first program I purchased and taught myself.  Shortly after becoming awkwardly proficient, AutoCAD came out with a 3rd party Architectural add-on.  I thought that was ‘awesome’!  I buried myself into the program and was professing the need for my architect friends to embrace the change.  They were very reluctant to abandon the historically rich and romantic craft of ‘hand-drawn’ designs and construction documents.  But I saw the bright light and believed that CAD would definitely be the way of the future for all architectural practices. 

“For a number of my friends, all I had to do was show them how I could flip a completed plan over by drawing a simple line down the middle and all annotation presented itself as if it was always drawn that way, they were hooked.  I can’t tell you how many times that request was presented by a client when I had invested hours in annotating the documents, only to bring out the eraser and get to work removing all of that text only to re-draw it on the backside of the sheet, all the while hoping I did not bore a hole through the sheet… which also happened more than once!  Thank goodness for the ‘power’ erasers we had to work with back then… I still have mine!

Though I saw ads for the Chief Architect program, I did not think it would be advanced enough to use in my business… boy was I wrong.

“Over the years I’ve watched a number of architectural CAD programs hit the marketplace, becoming more and more useful and user-friendly.  In the early nineties, I even had the opportunity to teach CAAD at a local community college for several years using AutoCAD and a new (at that time,) 3rd party add-on called ASG.  Though I saw ads for the Chief Architect program, I did not think it would be advanced enough to use in my business… boy was I wrong.  I started using what I believed to be a high-end architectural software program but was seriously struggling, trying to come up with macros and shortcuts to help speed up my productivity.  I began to dig deeper into researching programs that were geared more to residential work as that is where my true passion lies.”

Large covered entryway with a patio area for outdoor living.

“It was in late 2014, to early 2015 that I thought I would give Chief Architect a try… I believe it was with Version 6.  I was quickly blown away with everything the program and the company (customer support) had to offer!  The very expensive, very difficult and unyielding ‘high-end’ program that had taken me several years to learn and become proficient, paled in comparison to what I could do with Chief Architect!!!  I quickly and literally cut my turn-around time on projects by more than half what it was taking me before and I was able to do things, provide additional types of information, and bring much of the lost, what I like to call, ‘romance’, of the ‘hand drawing’ era of construction documents.

“I continue to be hugely impressed with the updates and additional tools and routines, new functions, and improvements Chief Architect regularly does with their program.  The ‘User Center’ is incredible, and the customer support, who I seem to challenge often as I am always seeming to try something out of the ordinary, is outstanding.  I’ve yet to stump them, and I promise I’m not trying to do that, I just seem to have clients that ask me to do some unique or different from normal-type things.  Chief Architect always seems to come through.”

Dollhouse view of a residential home design that features a large kitchen, family room and library.

“Years have gone by using Chief Architect now.  I’ve completed numerous fun projects and I seem to be getting much better at using many of the program’s productivity and fun functions.  I have even received a collection of outstanding compliments from contractors, builders, but most importantly, several municipalities Building Department Chiefs & Inspectors complimenting me as much about my ‘design’ as the look and content of the working drawings I produce using Chief Architect.  I absolutely give all the credit to the program. 

“As I get ready to retire from my day job working for a large company, I am very excited to dive back into my architectural business full-time.  I mean this sincerely when I say that Chief Architect has provided me the ability and desire to do so.  Thank you to everyone at Chief for what you have and continue to create… and thanks to those of you who ‘liked’ my project entry.”

Winning Design

Thank you for sharing your journey with us and including Chief Architect in your work! For more of Jerry’s wonderful designs, see the projects listed below.

Rumble Design

Osiecki Design

Babisz Remodel

Wyklige Design

Beaulac Addition

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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Remodel-Addition

Modern Remodel Design by Eric Hoff

Modern home design with metal and brick siding, roof top patio, and two car garage.

By Emily Black

Eric, an Idaho native, places third in the Chief Architect Remodel/Addition Design Contest. His artistic talents were a perfect fit for a career in home design.

Picture of Eric Hoff
Eric Hoff

“I was born in Pocatello, Idaho and then moved to Idaho Falls and lived on the family farm and worked with my father who flew airplanes and was a metal fabricator. I took on a job as a laborer that placed me in the building industry framing houses and building cabinets. I was very intrigued by the plans that we worked from. I am an artist and planned to go to college in Boise, Idaho to study Art, Advertising and Design. To pay my way through college, I worked construction at various levels including building houses.

“I eventually started my own company and found myself enjoying the designing process and started hand drafting our projects. Clients would often rely on me to help explain what they were looking at when we were studying the floor plans and elevations. I realized that most people I worked with had a difficult time understanding what they were looking at when viewing 2D plans and elevations. I started trying to hand draw in 3D but the time involved was prohibitive.”

Front elevation view and renderings of a single story home design.

” I discovered Chief Architect’s 3D Home Architect product in the early ’90s… which later became Home Designer. At first, learning the program seemed daunting, but as time and practice moved forward, so did the skill set. It was amazing to see clients understand what they were looking at. I HAD to master 3D design – visual graphics. I started creating my own textures and objects so that I could better portray what I wanted our clients to see. Chief Architect is nearly the perfect platform to do this.  We now know that if clients can see it…they will do it once you align design with a budget.

Because he could see, because he could visualize it, he changed his mind from a no, to a yes.

“When I worked with Strite Construction in Boise, Idaho, I spent nearly 3 months on an 18,000sf project and we were very close to presenting the final design and proposing the numbers to sell the job… just before the proposal I received a call that my father died unexpectedly… I had to leave and could not be there for the meeting.  My colleague said that the client did not like the cost and decided not to move forward.  The client stood up and noticed my plans sitting on a table behind him (which they did not use in the meeting).  They were in the corner, 20+ sheets printed 36” x 48” just sitting there.  I had them printed before I left town.  The client opened the plans and slowly reviewed every single page…everyone sat quietly, waiting…watching.  Finally, after an eternity the client said, “you have really spent a lot of time on this, it is very detailed… you guys are serious about this project.” Everyone nodded.  Then he said, “What the heck, let’s do it!” Because he could see, because he could visualize it, he changed his mind from a no, to a yes.”

Winning Design

Eric’s work is truly outstanding. Make sure to connect with him at Hoff Design Build and view more of his designs below.

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Contest Winners, Professional, Remodel-Addition

Nathan Ensminger is the 2018 Remodel/Addition Design of the Year Contest Winner

Nathan's 2018 Remodel/Addition Design of the Year Contest Entry.

By Jake Murray

Congratulations to Nathan placed 2nd in the Chief Architect Remodel/Addition Design Contest in September and won the Remodel/Addition Design of the Year Contest in December with his backyard getaway.

Nathan and his family at the beach

“My name is Nathan Ensminger from Wichita Kansas. Back as far as I can remember I watched and mimicked my father as he designed interiors for Lear jet.

Continue reading…
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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Remodel-Addition

Dave Kangas Wins 3rd Place with his Period-Specific Addition to a 1890’s Queen Anne Cottage.

By: Jake Murray

Dave placed third in the Chief Architect Remodel/Addition Design Contest. His mission to design spaces that foster bonds between families has contributed to his success as a designer.

Dave, his wife Deanna, and their two daughters

“I’ve been designing on-and-off in an official capacity since 2005 (the design office was using v9.5 at the time), but I started using Chief Architect in 2000 or 2001 using version 6. Before Chief Architect, I started with notebooks full of sketches from age 12 and up! Continue reading…

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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Remodel-Addition

Leslee Spade Wins 1st Place with a Conch House Remodel in the Keys!

A small conch house on a gorgeous lot in the Keys with plenty of room to go up and out with this build.

By Jake Murray

Leslee placed first in the Chief Architect Remodel/Addition Design Contest! Her winning design is a showcase of the potential for concrete structures in the Keys.

Leslee grew up knowing she’d be an artist of some sort. As soon as she began to write, she began to draw.  As a child, she would sit and watch “Picture Pages” with Bill Cosby and according to her family was very accurate in her early efforts. She also painted her dad’s brand new leather jacket he got for Christmas with nail polish when she was 4 years old. Leslee’s mother, Roberta, knew right then her daughter would grow up to be an artist. Her passion led her to win many art competitions while in school. Continue reading…

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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Remodel-Addition

Glenn M. Travis Places 2nd with His Georgian Colonial Remodel

Second story addition to a ranch rambler home design.

By Emily Black


Glenn placed 2nd in the Chief Architect Remodel/Addition Design Contest! His winning design is a beautiful transformation of the original home design.

Glenn M. Travis, the principal designer and owner of GMT Home Designs, focused on adding a second story and redesigning the first floor to give the clients a large kitchen and open family room. Glenn utilizes Chief Architect to bring his clients into the design with him and open communication for changes.

“Glenn and his team turned our idea into a reality using their incredible 3D design system. For the first time, we could actually see our dream home come to life. Visualizing the space in the 3D Viewer not only showed us what our home would look like but allowed us to make changes to something “we thought we liked” before ever breaking ground.” – GMT Home Design Client Continue reading…

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Contest Winners, Featured Customers, Professional, Remodel-Addition

Robin McCarthy and Heather Brewer win 2nd Place with their Craftsman-Style Design

This large remodel and major addition was designed around an active lifestyle of a family of five who have outgrown their current home. The style of the home is primarily a mix of farmhouse and craftsman elements. The timber beams, shingles, and stone accents highlight the craftsman style, while the board and batten farmhouse style windows bring out the farmhouse style.

By Kendra Dorosh

Architect Robin McCarthy and Junior Designer Heather Brewer placed 2nd in the Chief Architect Residential Design Contest. See how their projects have come to life with Robin’s passion for design and Heather’s skill with 3D Modeling.

Robin McCarthy (Left) and Heather Brewer (Right)

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