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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Interior Design, Professional, Stories

Design for Living

Accessible bathroom with dual vanity and floating cabinets.

By Adam Gibson, Architectural Designer, CMKBD, CLIPP, CAPS

There’s a growing need to make homes safer and healthier with thoughtful elements that don’t compromise aesthetics.

Many of us use assistive devices that have become part of our everyday lives, things we consider normal… take glasses and hearing aids, for instance. Why not take this same approach when designing a home?

Baby boomers are retiring at an astonishing rate, creating issues not often addressed. Aside from them, many families have specific needs (outside of age) for features embedded in design. We are doing them a disservice if we don’t educate ourselves, and in doing so, them, on how to contribute to their health and welfare.

Here are some common aging in place design considerations

Read on for more detail…

Incorporate a horizon line in the shower

Contrasting tile colors are proven to help people with vertigo by giving them a horizon line in the shower. That horizon line should be about five feet above the floor. It could be several rows of accent tile, or even contrasting tiles.

Horizon line, Multilevel vanity, curbless shower
Horizon Line, Multilevel Vanity, Curbless Shower

Have towel bars serve as grab bars

How many have had their children accidentally pull a towel bar out of the wall? Keep this quiet, but I’m a grown man and have done it. The bathroom floor can get pretty slippery. We’ll grab the closest thing to steady ourselves. Why not have every towel bar serve as a grab bar? Grab bars can be beautiful, not like the ones in public restrooms. Most decorative hardware manufacturers also make designer grab bars. Obviously, they have to be installed correctly. Not so obviously, that doesn’t necessarily mean into studs or solid blocking. Check out companies like Wingits and Moen for installing bars the right way. How can you know you haven’t created a crack in the stud or blocking when fastening those monster screws? You don’t want to find out by an emergency room call from your 250-pound client.

Design vanities to incorporate varying heights

When designing a vanity, why not incorporate varying heights? This enables someone to be seated or standing, accommodating for a wheelchair or seat if it’s more comfortable.

Door Outswing graphic

Have doors open out

Here is an unfortunate scenario: Grandpa visits and falls in the bathroom against the door. You can’t get to him because the door opens into the room, so you have to call paramedics and you hope they arrive in time. A door that swings out would have saved time by providing immediate access. We know shower doors must always open out.

No-barrier shower entry

Speaking of showers, a curbless, or “beach entry” shower used to be seen as a luxury but is now common. There’s rarely a reason to step over a curb to enter a shower. This feature also allows access for a wheelchair or other supportive device. Schluter, True Dek, and many others provide systems that require little floor framing modifications.

Horizon line in shower
Image courtesy of LIPI

Lever-style door handles

Door Lever with Return
Image courtesy of LIPI

More people are gravitating to lever-style door handles for their aesthetics. They’re also better than doorknobs for those with trouble gripping, especially the elderly and very young. A healthy adult with slippery hands may grab the handle and lose their balance, almost falling as their hand slides off. For the elderly or those with special needs, this is even more common.

This could be prevented by specifying a lever with a return. The return can catch the hand before slipping off. A lever also reduces the risk of the handle catching one’s clothing.

Never place a microwave above a cooktop

Microwave over Cooktop NO

One more safety concern and also a pet peeve: Why place a microwave above a cooktop if you don’t have to? First, there is never enough ventilation, even on the off chance that it’s actually vented to the outside. If it is, it’s probably only 150 CFM, which in my opinion is severely lacking. More importantly, when you have a vertically challenged person or a child removing extremely hot liquid reaching above shoulder level, possibly above a hot element, there’s an accident you can count on.

Exterior doors with flush thresholds

Many door manufacturers now offer exterior doors with flush thresholds so people with a walker or wheelchair can enter without stumbling. All interior doors can be framed for a 36” door, but by extending the bottom plate and infilling the studs for a standard-sized door, and with judicious electrical placement, a wheelchair-width door can be installed in a matter of hours.

Wall detail for an accessible doorway

With 74.9 million baby boomers, and most planning to live in their homes long-term, clients will appreciate the longevity of your plan.

Stack closets for future elevator

Why not plan ahead and stack closets above one another for a future elevator? With 74.9 million baby boomers, and most planning to live in their homes long-term, clients will appreciate the longevity of your plan. An aside: If you specify a residential elevator, they have a typical swing door on each level and an accordion door in the elevator car. Kids can get trapped between what’s sometimes a 5-inch gap. Always specify a space guard on each door at each level. It’s not expensive and will save lives. If you have a client with an existing elevator, refer them to this article.

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These are just a few items to incorporate into our plans. There are many more. I encourage designers and builders to check out the Living in Place Institute for tips on how to address the needs not just of those who want to age in their homes, but anyone with requirements outside the norm. For me, it’s been great to confront issues with aesthetically pleasing solutions for homeowners and their visitors alike.

Adam Gibson, Architectural Designer, CMKBD, CLIPP, CAPS
Adam Gibson
Architectural Designer, CMKBD, CLIPP, CAPS

Adam Gibson is an architectural designer living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer, Living-in-Place Professional, and Aging-in-Place Specialist. He’s been leveraging Chief Architect software for his business since 1995.

Connect with Adam at Adam Gibson Design.

Want more from Adam? See his previous blog post- The Virtual Tour.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can leverage the tools in Chief Architect software to meet specific accessibility needs, click here.

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Professional, Residential Home Design, Stories

Stylized Home Designs Offer Options for Paradise, CA Residents

Farmhouse with front porch, dormers, and gullwing roof.

By Adrean Stephenson

An Idea

Allen Tatomer, of Blue Collar Builders TV, has an idea. He plans to use his experience in construction project management, and his history as a home show TV producer, to provide rebuilding options to property owners devastated by last year’s Camp Fire in Paradise, CA.

The Blue Collar Builders are pursuing product sponsorships, along with the television series, Paradise Rises. They hope to bring down construction costs and help make the transition back into normal life easier for Paradise residents. Among the project challenges will be adapting construction techniques for disaster awareness, including features like rooftop sprinklers, fire resistant exterior materials, and designs that reduce the buildup of natural debris on and around the structures.

After seeing Chief Architect’s illustration work on Fine Home Building’s 2018’s California House, Allen approached us to help as contributors to his project’s vision.

The Planning

The idea is to leverage a base floor plan, then derive from it multiple options in square footage and architectural style. This technique will make the construction process easier to manage and more cost efficient, while preserving individual identities for the homes. Home owners can choose their favorite style and home size, and even include a matching Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) as temporary living quarters during construction then future use as guest house, studio, or rental option.

There are 6 floor plan options available, ranging from 1200 sq. ft. to 2400 sq. ft. Each option can be modified to adapt a different architectural style. I use Chief Architect to create the initial plan footprint, then save off copies for each subsequent design. We decide to focus on variations of these styles: Coastal, Colonial, Cottage, Craftsman, Farmhouse, Tuscan, and Victorian. Flip through the full selection of the latest revisions.



Using Chief Architect Premier makes it easy to quickly adapt different roof attributes for the plans. Updating default attributes for things like windows, cabinets, and even material colors helpes to streamline the process even more.

We leverage websites like and Pinterest to search out inspiration for each house style. Simply using a search term like “Modern Farmhouse Exterior” returns results that help identify architectural features, scaling, and massings that are typical to a design style.

After I wrap up the floor plan options and style concepts, our team begins producing illustrations and animations that bring the designs to life. Kerry masters interior design and aesthetics, generating stills using the various library catalogs and rendering techniques available for Chief Architect.

Bailey follows up using the automatic walkthrough tools to generate navigation paths that can be recorded as movies; some of these have been shared on the Paradise Rises Facebook page. One of the great things about using design software is the ability to reuse these elements and controls for multiple designs. With a quick copy-and-paste-in-place, the walkthrough paths are ready for the next house; we can even set them up to run on a different computer so that the processing time has less impact on our workday.


Once the process is complete, we’ll have created a huge selection of content that will help with the visualization of this project. Because these designs have all been generated in our drafting software, we can simply hand off the files to an Architect and Engineer to finalize for permitting and construction. They can continue on with the work using Chief Architect to add structural details, code compliance, and plot information, then produce a set of permit ready documents for breaking ground.

If this project for the people of Paradise, CA resonates for you, reach out to Blue Collar Builders TV to learn what you can do to participate.

Featured Customers, Kitchen Design, Professional, Stories

The Virtual Tour

Large open kitchen with vaulted ceilings, eat at island, and fireplace.

By Adam Gibson, CMKBD, CLIPP, CAPS

“My design business added a powerful tool in 1995 when I started using the Chief Architect platform. This provided me with a way to articulate ideas in the most efficient way possible. I am fortunate to be among the team of designers and architects that have participated in beta releases and provided feedback as part of the Chief Architect user interface/user experience process.

“When engaging with new clients, I encourage them to create an Idea Book in Houzz or Pinterest, collecting images that appeal to them. They are instructed to note, in each image, the specific element they find alluring. It could be lighting, the look and feel of the space, the color and texture of cabinets, or myriad other elements. By creating in 3D, I can design for their aesthetic rather than guessing what moves them.”

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Bathroom Design, Kitchen Design, Stories

Accessible Design using Chief Architect Software

By Kendra Dorosh

It’s vital to be able to create a smart, functional design that fits the needs of your clients without sacrificing style. Let’s discuss how you can leverage the powerful tools in Chief Architect software to meet specific accessibility needs that will wow your customers, and hopefully have a profoundly positive effect on their day-to-day lives.

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Interior Design, Stories

Wine Storage Solutions with

Actual image of a wine cellar filled with wine

By Emily Black


Chief Architect has been working with since 2012 to offer their wine storage product line. Their USA made wine storage solutions provide a unique design for any small or large project. is located in New York’s Hudson Valley and has been serving their customers since 1992.  Over the years, their product selections have expanded to include a wide range of small capacity wine racks, wine accessories, cooling units and lighting for wine cellars.

With the goal of providing the very best customer service and product quality, is manufacturing their own wooden wine storage units within the US with environmentally responsible raw materials.

I had the chance to speak with Jeremy of to dive deeper into what makes a great wine cellar.

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Events, Professional, Stories

Chief Academy 2018 Recap

By Dani Walker


Last week Chief Architect held the 2018 Chief Academy near our headquarters in Coeur d’ Alene, ID. There were over 100 attendees who came for the 2 ½ days of in-depth training, 1 on 1 support, and networking events. Over the course of the event, Users were able to soak up the last few days of summer in Coeur d’ Alene through morning events and evening receptions.

Day 1 kicked off with a Welcome and Company Update from our CEO, Greg Wells. Shortly after, Users headed to their class to start training. Classes ranged from Introductory to Advanced, each taught by a certified Chief Architect Instructor. The day was full of tips, tricks, and techniques to help Users utilize Chief Architect within their business.


Chief Architect customers gathered at the 2018 Chief Academy ready for a training.

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Professional, Residential Home Design, Stories

Fine Homebuilding California House Collaboration

FHB California House Watercolor Rendering by Chief Architect

By Adrean Stephenson


Taunton Press’s Fine Homebuilding Magazine has been the gold standard reference, covering quality home design and construction for over 30 years. I remember as a youngster sifting through the stacks of my dad’s coveted back issues, soaking up the details and anticipating the next “Great Moments in Building History” featured on the last page. It wasn’t long after I purchased my first fixer upper that I started an archive library of my own. Continue reading…

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Bathroom Design, Interior Design, Kitchen Design, Professional, Stories

Winning Spaces from the 2018 NKBA Design Awards

This large kitchen is airy and open, galley style with a long island, warm wood ceiling, and impressive industrial hood.

by Adrean Stephenson

January’s KBIS event marked another success on the books. This year, in addition to manning our booth and hosting the annual User Breakfast, our team was delighted to contribute to one of the favorite KBIS announcements: the 2018 NKBA Design Awards! See the full spread of winners and project information in the January/February issue of NKBA Innovation + Inspiration.

We used Chief Architect’s 3D Modeling, Rendering, and Video Walkthrough Recording tools to replicate the winning designs, then recorded animations that virtually explore the spaces.

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