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Wall to Wall Dimensions on a Floorplan

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DylanYoung23

When drawing a floor plan, I have heard a few different opinions, and I'm not exactly sure which is true. 

First off, before I get to my problem, I need to confirm the way dimensions are done for rooms.  If a room says it should be the size of 12' x 18', is that distance from the center of each wall to the next one? That's how I have been drawing them, and if the overall dimensions of a house are 42' x 50', then I have drawn that as the entire contents of the floor plan, and no walls exceed past that line.  Edges of exterior walls are measured to the center of interior walls.

 

Just a small example of how it may look:

 

 

 

 

 

So when drawing a house, I had a wall that was exterior, and then it went to the interior, and then had the size of an interior wall.  When this occurs, would the wall move in line with the exterior wall? Example in picture below:

 

 

 

 

OR

 

would the midpoint of the wall stay the same, to stay constant with the dimensions.  It looks weird but it's just confusing to me.  Example in the picture below:

 

 

 

I've run into this problem in a drafting competition, and my drafting instructor was stuck on this problem as well.  I figured I could ask somebody with this knowledge, so if anyone could give me advice on this that would be excellent.

 
Mar 8, 16 3:18 pm
DylanYoung23

EDIT: The pictures are at the very bottom of the original post.  I don't know why the pictures are small, so maybe saving on your computer and zooming in or something could help, but you should be able to get the gist of it.

Mar 8, 16 3:20 pm  · 
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SneakyPete

Are you attempting to conform to a client's program? Attempting to generate net-to-gross ratios? Attempting to go easy on your framer? Get consistent dimensions with intention?

 

The one word of advice I've always been told: Never draw a dimension somewhere you don't already know what the dimension should read.

Mar 8, 16 3:33 pm  · 
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chigurh

is there a question in there?

For stud walls - set up dimension strings to face of stud (not center) - exterior on exterior walls; interior - either side draftsman's choice.  Grid lines help. 

A true dimension of a room is going be from finish to finish - not stud to stud so you will loose 1.25" if both side are finished in 5/8" gyp.

The real problem in your plan is getting on that toilet to take a dump.

Mar 8, 16 3:33 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

Your real problem is that you're drafting in imperial, plus, like Chigurh says, you're washroom plan is terrible.

I dimension what is critical for the project and let the rest figure itself out. 

Mar 8, 16 3:41 pm  · 
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SneakyPete

Come on, folks. A pedestal sink will solve everything.

 

(You can just poo in that instead.)

Mar 8, 16 3:42 pm  · 
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geezertect

Agree with chigurh.  Interior dimensions should be face of stud.  Exterior are to outside face of stud wall, which generally is the same as the foundation dimension, since the exterior stud wall aligns with face of foundation wall.

99% of the time you are doing the drawings for the framer.  The other trades are showing up after the house in ballooned up and closed in.

Mar 8, 16 5:15 pm  · 
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SneakyPete

I have been told multiple times at multiple firms something like "We don't care about the framer, we care about the dimensions of finished space."

 

I'm not endorsing that statement, I'm adding it to see what others think.

 

I think it pays dividends to keep the contractor happy whenever possible so when you need to disagree, you won't seem as disagreeable.

Mar 8, 16 5:20 pm  · 
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wurdan freo

^That mentality never made sense to me. You want the framer doing math in the field with a piece of scrap and a framing pencil or the computer that can easily distinguish 1/256th"? Do the dimensions to the face of the stud.

Mar 8, 16 5:26 pm  · 
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proto

while i understand the rationale for dimensioning to face of framing, we dimension to finish face because that's what we care about ultimately

and, yes, it is our responsibility to make sure we're giving the subs enough space to fit it all in. and it is clearly stated on the cover sheet that that's how the set is drawn.

the way i see it, the contractor is the one who is able to make sure the project is dimensionally on track. i am just setting up the design goalposts. i don't have exact dimensions for what he's building, even with new construction (tho that argument is, admittedly, less defensible than for remodel work).

that all said, i do a shit load of dimensioning to identify which dims are hard and which are soft to give the builder enough control to get it right

Mar 8, 16 5:56 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

For new construction or additions, always dimension to the outside of framing. (Not outside of sheathing, but the outside of the stud.) That is a consistent practice in construction and it becomes a reference point for all other dimensions. Like chigurh said, set up grid lines at that location too, makes everything easier. For partition walls, if you work with a limited number of GC's, find out how they would prefer it. Some guys like center-of-partition and some prefer dimensions to one side or the other. I usually dimension to both sides but no matter what you do, someone will complain about it. Don't make the framer think, or guess or search around to find whether you want 1/2" or 5/8" GWB or something else. Your job is to show them exactly where to pull their numbers from so they can do their job.

When doing a smaller interior renovation, that's when I dimension to the face of the finished surface. Especially for things like kitchens and bathrooms, fractions of an inch can matter, and if you aren't pulling finishes off the wall, you're just guessing anyway. (Wall surfaces can be anywhere from 1/4" to 1 1/4" or thicker.)

The best thing you can do is somewhere on the plan include a note, either "dimensions to face of framing" or "dimensions to face of finished surface." I guarantee it will save you a headache down the road.

Mar 8, 16 5:57 pm  · 
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awaiting_deletion

i do a lot of work in existing conditions and over the years have completely given up on framing dimensions, never works out. so quite simple "Dimensions are from Finish surface to Finish surface." and yes i expect the GC or framer to figure it out.......but i was initially taught framing to framing until i heard some story where the architect showed 3' and after 1 1/4" sheet rock both sides the space was too narrow to code and guess what did not pass inspection! so i took that as a hint and since the GC usually makes 10x as much as me on the fee, they can figure it out.

Mar 8, 16 6:01 pm  · 
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I dimension to finish face, so I'm showing the size of the space that I want.  Carpenters are really, really good at dealing with the addition/subtraction of drywall, etc. They can do it in their sleep.

I do dimension to the middle of window openings.

Mar 8, 16 9:04 pm  · 
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Carrera

They would do that for a girl, if I did that they'd punch me in the face.

Mar 9, 16 12:14 am  · 
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geezertect

 Carpenters are really, really good at dealing with the addition/subtraction of drywall, etc. They can do it in their sleep.

You must be hogging the intelligent ones (all17 of them).  My experience has been that no matter how clear you try to make things, they don't read the f*****g drawings.  Superintendents on residential jobs are almost non-existent.  Don't ask them to think since they just aren't good at it.

Mar 9, 16 7:43 am  · 
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Non Sequitur
Geezer, that's my experience as well. On this current office tower project, every RFI I get is answered by "dimensions clearly indicated on drawing X". For Sean Connery's sake, their dims missing note is next to the plan detail reference bubble!
Mar 9, 16 7:50 am  · 
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I have drawn dims both ways, but when doing my own (small) projects I tend to:

-pick a good (careful, thoughtful, professional) contractor

-dimension to the finished face of interior walls

-dimension to the centerline of windows

- make very clear notes on the drawings as to what is being dimensioned.

- talk to the contractor before framing begins to make sure they are clear on how the dimensions are organized. 

I have always thought it was condescending to think that framers can't do math. Good builders are very capable of framing to finished dimensions. 

 If you pick a bad contractor (doesn't read drawings, does care) you'll have much bigger problems that a few mis-read dimensions. 

Mar 9, 16 8:51 am  · 
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This is why I love working with old carpenters: They're super-knowledgeable, so they have nothing to prove, so they don't get snarky about being cooperative.

This could *totally* become a conversation about how differently men and women work with other men and other women, but I cut the tip of my forefinger off this morning so typing today is hard. So I'll avoid that convo for the moment, but the social dynamics of gendered groups working to solve a problem together are frustrating!

I do a general note that dimensions are to finish for the entire set, but then for *critical* dimensions, like ADA clearances, I note ON THE DIMENSION that it's 44" clear, or whatever. I also work on very small projects where I have a close relationship with the carpenter, which makes a difference.

But isn't this an industry-wide problem that we've brought on ourselves? If some of us dimension to stud face and some to finish face, don't the framers have reason to be frustrated with us?

Mar 9, 16 8:52 am  · 
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Added: Totally agree with Lee Robert's post. All excellent points.

Mar 9, 16 9:10 am  · 
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Wilma Buttfit

The sophisticated contractors who do commercial work like hospitals and schools can do the math and along with that can see beyond their own role (that the project/drawing set isn't about them but about a final product). The residential or small commercial ones not so much. My vote: Every job is a project meaning it is something to assemble and create as you go with the players that are at the table and small projects with guys in trucks are different than big projects with managing supers. Maybe it (dimensions/CAD standards) should not be standardized, but generalized and used as a communicative tool on a per project basis. I do face of finish unless otherwise noted because I drafted a lot of schools and hospitals where that was what was important. Adjust as needed if you have a reason to do so for example having a cretin for a contractor. But then, I would just try to get out of the project if that is the case because like mentioned above, if they can't do basic math they can't manage other things like money and time and those are far, far bigger problems. How do you trust a contractor that can't manipulate eighths of an inch with tools available to do it? 

Mar 9, 16 10:03 am  · 
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curtkram

how do your contractors lay out walls?  from what i've seen, they try to draw out the plan with a chalk line or something like that so they know where the sill plate or track is supposed to go.  don't they do that in residential?

if you measure the wall as 4-7/8 instead of 3-5/8, they will center the track with about 5/8" clear on each side.  that's about the width of my thumb.  so they could use their thumb to see how close to center they are.  i don't see any practical benefit to dimensioning to the stud.

Mar 9, 16 10:14 am  · 
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gruen
Cubits. It's the future.
Mar 9, 16 10:15 am  · 
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geezertect

Curtkram:  My reaction is I don't see any practical benefit to NOT dimensioning to the stud.  The stud goes in before the drywall.  Why would you dimension to drywall when the drywaller is just going to hang the rock wherever the stud wall has been put?

Dimensioning to the stud gets the stud in the right spot, and allows everyone to keep their thumb in their butts where it belongs.

Mar 9, 16 10:25 am  · 
1  · 

I give clear dimension for ROOM A then a + - dimension for ROOM B.

Mar 9, 16 10:39 am  · 
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geezertect

Some of the difference in people's experience has to do with whether they work primarily in the residential (custom and production) sphere or in commercial.  Commercial contractors generally get a little better quality of labor than the residential side.  Residential work, particularly production housing, tends to be more volatile, and the workers are less experienced because just about the time they get good at playing the game, they get laid off in the inevitable busts and a lot of them don't come back when the market recovers.  It's not that they lack intelligence; it's that they don't have good quality experience.  Also, since residential is non-union, it pays less and so good people have an incentive to move into commercial if they can.  Residential contractors can also get away with hiring "undocumented workers" easier than commercial guys, and they are generally the least experienced of all.

Good builders can do it either way, but why not give yourself some protection by making it as easy as possible?

Mar 9, 16 10:40 am  · 
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Wilma Buttfit

...because there might be other reasons like aligning finishes and it is good to have the contractor working to visualize the project vs having tunnel vision. But do what makes sense for you, always. 

Mar 9, 16 10:47 am  · 
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curtkram

i think the wall would be framed in accurately whether you include the 1" or 1.25" of drywall.  if the framer can't center a track or sill plate in the 4 7/8" or 4 1/2" gap, you're probably going to end up with bigger problems anyway.  do you dimension the height of the wall that accurate?  at some point, there will have to be some judgment calls made on site anyway.

if i have to have a toilet centered 18" from a wall, i would rather dimension 18".  at least from my perspective, i think i would get fewer errors saying a 10' room is 10'.  also, from my end, i have autocad that is accurate to 1/256" of an inch (which it isn't, because autocad has all sorts of ways to get odd dimensions).  that isn't a realistic expectation to place on a contractor.  while a thumb is not exactly 5/8" of an inch, i think it's reasonable to say if you put one thumb on each side of a track, you will have a very accurate impression of whether that track is centered or not, and it will be much faster than using a tape measure.  they'll probably be pretty accurate even if they just look at it.

if you chose to measure to the stud instead of the face of drywall, it would just mean a room you dimensioned as 10' would be 9'-10 3/4".  or, if you want a 10' room, you would have to dimension 10'-1 1/4".  i don't think your wall will be framed wrong either way.

the only time i've seen a wall put in the wrong place was when the outline on the slab for the wall was drawn in the wrong place.

Mar 9, 16 10:52 am  · 
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geezertect

^Not to belabor the point, but the finishes are going on after the wall has been built.  If the wall itself get put in the wrong place, it is moot how the finishes were supposed to work.  They are going to have to be adjusted according to the reality that exists.

Most of the residential guys have tunnel vision, like it or not, so you might as well accept it and do drawings accordingly.  Visualization is not something I want to leave to the folks in the field.  Half the architects I know can't visualize things, so why would I assume the folks in the field can do it effectively?

Mar 9, 16 10:53 am  · 
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shellarchitect

had a 90 min meeting on this topic a couple weeks ago, ended up going with face of stud.  it gets messy when you have ada "clear" dims tho. 

that way when a wall finish changes (fiber cement siding becomes vinyl, tile removed, 5/8 vs 1/2. drywall, etc) its not a huge pain to re-dim. everything. 

Mar 9, 16 11:35 am  · 
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Wilma Buttfit

Well geezer I know that if you treat people like they are stupid they almost always start to act that way even if they aren't. Good luck. 

Mar 9, 16 11:36 am  · 
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As you say, tintt, often there are alignments of finishes that *matter*, visually, to the project, and I like to let the workers know what the important goals of the project are.

My experience has mainly been with really good carpenters, admittedly. And, when I smile and politely and respectfully explain to the worker *why* the alignment is important, they get it.

Which again veers into the conversation about how women and men communicate differently even when working towards the same goal.

Mar 9, 16 12:00 pm  · 
1  · 
chigurh

What I learned from this thread: some people do it the right way, some people do it the wrong way.  Tiny american flags for all.

Carrera coming out of left field with a true tribute for international national women's day - girl!

Mar 9, 16 12:04 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Nice Bob Dole aka Kodos reference there Chigurh.

Mar 9, 16 12:19 pm  · 
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curtkram

i can't imagine a 90 minute meeting about how to dimension.  though i probably spent that much time reading and replying to this thread

if the contractor involved in a project i was working on said (s)he would prefer me to dimension to the face of stud, and there wasn't any other compelling reason to not do that, i would probably switch for that project to help him/her out.

then again, i have never had to change from 5/8" gyp to 1/2".  that sounds horrible.

Mar 9, 16 12:21 pm  · 
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shellarchitect

it was basically 90 min of oddly passionate arguing between a couple PMs with about 15 spectators.

never done that gyp change either, but it seems like it could be possible if all dims are to finish face

Mar 9, 16 12:29 pm  · 
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Wilma Buttfit

You go men!

Mar 9, 16 12:42 pm  · 
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archanonymous

as someone who has actually worked as a framer on commercial and residential framing jobs, it seems most people would prefer dims to face of stud. For good tradespeople, it doesn't matter whether you do center, face of stud, finish face, or even just use notes like "align finish face to x" where x is some distant wall or control joint. The problem is you have to plan for the worst of the tradespeople who couldn't build it right no matter what

Mar 9, 16 12:51 pm  · 
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Carrera

Buildings (generally) are built with rough materials, studs, block….and finishes are applied afterwards. Those rough materials are placed at the edges of snapped chalk lines…how does one place a block or a stud on the center of a line that you cover up? How is it helpful to require someone to carrying around a feet/inch calculator to figure out where a wall goes? Who under the age of 65 can subtract fractions in their head? Other than buildings designed by children the finishes vary…multiple layers of drywall, furring, resilient channels…different thicknesses of drywall. If you need to “line things up” then you do it, then revert back to chalk lines…you’re the only one with a calculator & a computer. It shouldn’t take 90 minutes to figure this out.

All this discussion reinforces the need for architects to build something before they pontificate on how things are built. It makes us all look ridiculous and we cannot afford to look ridiculous.

Mar 9, 16 1:06 pm  · 
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shellarchitect

agreed, once you start actually building walls you find out real fast that anything shown as a fraction of an inch is unlikely to be built as shown.

btw - felt pretty smart the other day explaining to someone why an exist. building had a steel roof joist a few inches from a cmu wall instead of a stl. angle

Mar 9, 16 1:22 pm  · 
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DylanYoung23

Thank you all for your comments, so my question now is-- When a wall on the exterior continues into the interior, does the wall thickness stay the same as it was on the exterior or does it get thinner? and if it gets thinner, where is the wall placed respective to the exterior wall?

Mar 9, 16 2:28 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Why would an exterior wall continue into the interior? That's not how walls work generally unless you have no concept of how to detail your building enclosure membranes and co.

Sounds like you need a 1:10 scale plan detail.

Mar 9, 16 2:38 pm  · 
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chigurh

jog the wall to align a tile grout line on the interior corner of the room

Mar 9, 16 2:43 pm  · 
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DylanYoung23

I didn't come up with the design, it's for a competition.  They gave me this and I ran into the wall problem.  Once again here is how it looks:

 

Mar 9, 16 2:49 pm  · 
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DylanYoung23

I didn't come up with the design, it's for a competition.  They gave me this and I ran into the wall problem.  Once again here is how it looks, its the second picture from the original post:

Mar 9, 16 2:51 pm  · 
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shellarchitect

depends on what the wall is.  you're drawing a representation of a wall, not just two lines.  if the wall goes from brick with an airspace and wood framing to gyp bd. on wd. than  yes, it will be much thinner.  You have to know what you are drawing, it's not just a pair of lines

Mar 9, 16 2:51 pm  · 
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mightyaa

I'm a one side, face of framing guy.  That because I'm also one of the last that actually remembers hand drafting and manually adding up imperial dimension strings and knows what happens in the field. Have you seen them measure in the field?

I also intentionally leave spaces undimensioned; these are where there is construction tolerance.  Also be clear; if you want the wall centered, just dimension to centerline and tell them to align to 'that thing you want them to align to' like a mullion.

So I also use nominal framing sizes.  

It's only the super critical ones I'll do finish and get down to 1/16ths.  Got nicked on a fed job once; toilet is to be 18" from this wall... not 17 and 3/8", not 19".  Ever pay to move a rough in cast into the slab or buy a cabinet that won't fit?  Do it a couple times and you'll learn to dimension.  

As for the thinner wall and where.  What side do you wish to align?  Dimension and add "align" to the dim so it's clear.

Mar 9, 16 2:55 pm  · 
1  · 
DylanYoung23

And if it is thinner, the interior wall stay centered with the nearby exterior wall?

Mar 9, 16 2:56 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Dylan, sure sounds like you need to spend more time paying attention in your building science classes. Hint: the lines may be continuous on the drawing but the materials they represent are not.

Mar 9, 16 2:58 pm  · 
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geezertect

I would dimension the first element of each of the walls to be constructed, which will be the studs or masonry.  The rest of it will fall in place as the furring, drywall, finishes etc. are added.

Condescending or not, do as much of the thinking yourself as you can.  Phone calls from the field are distracting and tiresome.  Can't understand why this is even controversial.

Mar 9, 16 3:01 pm  · 
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DylanYoung23

It's controversial because it was asked for a competition and I wanted to be able to know what to do in this situation

Mar 9, 16 3:10 pm  · 
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Carrera

Shuellmi, thanks. It’s good to know that at least one thing I’ve said on this Forum was useful to somebody.

Mar 9, 16 3:16 pm  · 
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