The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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Architect + Kitchen Designer - Matching Up Dimensions

I had a curious day yesterday...it actually started last week when I received a second drawing in the mail from an architect for a project I am involved in.

It is my practice, in a renovation situation, to take an architect's plans as soon as I receive them, and to check the architect's dimensions against the dimensions that I have taken. This is very important, to discover errors on my part or on an architect's part. It exposes questions, good questions, which must be answered sooner than later!

I had already done this once for this project, and as revisions were made to the project, was set to do it again. I need to set aside a few hours to "justify" these dimensions.

plans.jpgLong Story Short

The architect's plan was filled with errors (this image is not the plan in question.)

I respect architects. I really do. They go through enormous training to become a licensed practitioner, responsible for safety, first and foremost, and usually, their work results in a highly accurate set of plans. Quite honestly, it is very rare that I find more than minor differences of dimensions in the process of checking, yet, the dimensions must be checked and always are...just in case! The errors in this case were many, strange, and very worrisome.

The thing is, it's not enough to uncover the errors, which I spent two hours with my clients doing (there were that many), and included taking out the tape measure, together (which is never done!), double checking existing dimensions in the home, where we had our meeting, and then comparing them with the architect's plan. What happens next, especially if there are many errors, is that a client can begin to lose confidence concerning any given line that is drawn on the plans, and to also question structural issues too. Loss of confidence is not a good thing.

I had this meeting last night, and the architect and contractor met with the clients today. I don't know what the outcome was, but I'm sure glad I wasn't there. I feel very badly for these clients. They are very busy people, lovely people as well, I like them very very much, and they simply don't deserve this. All that, and the process has taken a ridiculous amount of time as well.

I think what happened here was that the architect "farmed out" the work to a CAD drafter, who had no knowledge of this project and made many assumptions. Then, well, the architect did not check the drafter's work. 

When the revised plans come, again, to me, you'll see me with my scale ruler all over again!

The Lesson 

So, what can we learn here if you are a consumer thinking of doing a renovation? I suppose the first order of defense would be to make sure that your designer checks your architect's drawings for dimensional accuracy. Make sure that happens. And be a pest and ask if the professionals who do drawings can measure twice (I measure 3-4 times and always end up tweaking). Do your part to buy a scale ruler, check the plans yourself here and there, and speak about accuracy in dimensions to your hired professionals. No, you shouldn't have to do any of this, that's right. But, it may be a good idea...

What would have happened if assumptions of accuracy were made, easy to do, and this extension and interior renovation got built, and all of a sudden cabinets are ordered and the space is different?

That's a bloody nightmare.


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Reader Comments (4)

My Motto...check and double check and triple check.
I really don't know how anybody can do a renovation of any size without the assistance of a professional Interior Designer. Good Post!!

July 26, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpatricia gray

As you know Susan, I have done my own rant on this very subject.
I believe, if we all have the clients' best interests at heart, that we should all take responsibility for checking and double checking OUR OWN design documents.
Unfortunately they don't seem to teach "Measure twice, cut once" in architecture schools.
Architects are excused by their disclaimers from accuracy, and others who follow in their wake must clean up the detrius or pay the price of ordering products that don't fit.
Sadly, I don't see that situation changing anytime soon.

July 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Deras, CKD, CID

...damn architects...who needs 'em anyway! :-)

Any architect who designs ANYTHING without preparing an accurate existing conditions survey, before sketching a line, not only does a disservice to the client, but to the entire profession of architecture.

But remember... not all architects are created equal!

August 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMark R. LePage, AIA

Mark, this was NOT meant to trash architects. In fact, as I stated, I've never had this issue before with an architect. Sure, a little error here and there which I can count on less than one hand, and my profession can also be guilty of the same. The existing conditions plan was made and also had numerous errors in it. Obviously, he just wasn't into it. And, this is true for every profession everywhere. There's always that small percentage, it's like the rule of averages. So, a good opportunity to say "be careful."

August 3, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersusan

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