For good measure Toggle

For good measure

This post is all about measurements.

We are constantly measuring: measuring our height and our weight, measuring our behavior, measuring other's. Never sure if we are good enough, or maybe "too good". How do we measure a good child? A good friend? A good trait or action? These are questions that are constantly on our mind, and  never a clear answer.

Luckily when it comes to our homes there are several rules to go by:

Building measurements

  1. How big will the room be? Look at your house plans. The measurements on the plans are building measurements and not the final room measurements. This means that when the builders lay the blocks, these will be the distances between one block wall to the other. After the blocks are laid they get plastered (what's called in Israel "tiach" טיח). This will add a thickness of approximately 2 centimeters on each side of the wall. So, if the room has a width of 3 meters, block to block, the final measurement of the room will be about 2.96 meters. If you are at the planning stage, keep this in mind when determining the size of the rooms. If you've already reached the stage of ordering furniture, based on your building plans, remember to plan for about 5 cms less to each direction (2+2 = 4 but on site you will discover the math is somewhat "fluid").


  2. When should you insist on the builder moving the wall? If the difference between the final size of the room and the dimensions on the plans is over 2%. For example, if the room is planned to be 3 meters wide, you could expect it to be anywhere between 2.94 to 3.06. It is important to choose our battles wisely. If the deviation is slightly more but insignificant, let it go. In some places such a deviation could be major. For example: if I want to fit in a 4 door closet in a niche and I am missing 5 cms. to do so I will need to drop 40 cms. off my closet to hit the next standard size, or spend much more money on a custom made closet. In this case you may want to ask the builder to correct the wall. For this reason it is important to check the placement of the blocks when the first row is laid and not wait until the wall is completely up. At that point it is so much easier to correct the walls.

    Looks almost like Lego- doesn't it?

  3. How straight are the walls? Since the building in Israel is all done on site we are dependent on manual labor (as opposed to prefab homes which are controlled by factory machinery). Therefore perfection is something we could only dream of and most walls will be somewhat slanted. Make sure to measure the width, length and height of the room in several places along the walls before determining the final size of a closet or any other piece of furniture that is meant to fit in exactly. What about a crooked wall, how crooked could it be? There are several different possible causes: A. The angle between the wall and ceiling is not 90 degrees. In this case the rule is that the difference between the top of the wall and the bottom of the wall should not be more than 1 centimeter (on a standard height ceiling which is about 2.7 meters). How do you check this? Place a long plank of wood adjacent to the wall. There will probably be a gap somewhere along the way. Measure the gap at its widest point. If it is more than 1 cm you have the right to insist on the wall being fixed. In reality, I wouldn't touch the wall if the gap is less than 3 cms.
    B. The angle between walls is not 90 degrees or the plaster work is not exact (the plaster is thicker in some places than in others). In this case the deviation allowed is up to 1.5 cms along a 3 meter wall.
    If you noticed the wall is crooked before the plaster has been applied- chances are the builders will tell you that they will fix it with the plaster. Considering the plaster is only 1.5-2 cms thick, this won't work on deviations larger than that.


  4. Bathroom dimensions: in the bathrooms we don't have plaster on the walls but we do have tiles. The tiles have their thickness, and the glues that is used takes up space too. The builders can apply different amounts of glue which will affect the total thickness of the wall. If you have a niche in which you intend to install a ready-made vanity you must make sure the walls are straight (no more than that 1 centimeter deviation we discussed) and that the width before tiling is at least 5-6 cms more than the width of the closet. Make sure to mention to the builder the size of your vanity so he could ensure the niche will be sufficient. In places like this, it is important to check the walls as they are being built, and insist on correct dimensions.

Closet measurements

  1. How deep should a closet be? The depth of the closet including the doors is about 3 centimeters more than the net depth inside.
    Here are some measurements:
    The depth of a closet intended for regular hanging should be 55-60 centimeters from back to front including the doors. If you have suits, coats or other bulky items, I recommend going up to 65 cms in depth. If you want a closet for hanging but don't have enough depth, don't fret- there is a solution! Put in a pole that pulls out and place the hangers facing you rather than perpendicular to you:

    A closet meant for folding shirts should be 40-45 cms in depth. If you have more than that consider putting in pull-out shelves and make two piles, one behind the other.


  2. Sliding door closets: the rails for the doors take up a significant amount of space, anywhere between 5-10 cms off the depth. If you don't have at least 60 cms in depth for a hanging closet don't even consider sliding doors. Ideally you should have 65 cms in depth if you decide on sliding doors.
  3. Bookshelves: the standard depth for bookshelves is 30 cms. However, if you measure your booksat home,  you will find that most of them are no more than 20-25 cms in depth. On the other hand, there are big books or photo albums that are even 35 cms depth! What should you do? A lot depends on the space you have. When possible, I split the bookshelves into several units of different depths.

    For example in this room, the units on the right are 25 cms depth, taking less of the width of the room. The units in the long wall are 35 cms deep.

  4. Draws: The rails for drawers come in set sizes. The sizes "jump" by 5 cms. If you are planning a closet, a difference of 1 cm in the closet's depth could be a difference of 5 cms in the drawers. So in effect the closet is 5 cms bigger or smaller and not one! What should you do? Make sure to discuss this with the carpenter before determining the final measurements of your furniture.

 A famous proverb says:

Better twice measured than once wrong. 

In this case, take it literally…

Tip: Keep a tape measure handy in every bag and another one in your car.


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