How can I automatically create blueprints/floorplans of the rooms in my home?

I have a very old house and the city doesn't have any blueprints for it... I'm not crazy about drawing it all out manually and, being a tinkerer by nature--I'd rather do more work creating an automatic solution than less work measuring every room by hand :-)

I've looked around online and found a lot of 3D laser scanners and Kinect hacks which is great... but really all I'm looking to do is create a flat, 2D floorplan of my home. 

So far, my thought is a laser distance finder attached to a servo on a tripod using an arduino to control rotation and record the various measurements. I'm thinking that I could place this type of apparatus in a room and perform a few scans from different points (if there are obstructions such as beams) in the room and use those measurements to create a floorplan.

Anyone have any thoughts/ideas/comments?

Thanks! Jason

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kelseymh4 years ago
Unless your house is extremely complicated, this is going to be much easier to do by hand. If you want to try building the project just to do the build, that would be awesome. But it will be much harder than going room by room and measuring them by hand.

I did a scale plan of our new house (single story, 4BR/2BA) in about three hours. All I needed were the interior measurements of each room, hallway, etc. Walls are 4-1/2" thick everywhere. The size of each door tells you the size of each doorway. And so on. I got the basic dimensions down in half an hour or so, then went back to pick up windows, outlet positions, and the rest.
jasonbarresi (author)  kelseymh4 years ago
What did you use to measure? I was looking at laser tapes online that seem pretty inexpensive. I've used sonic tapes in the past and haven't found them to be too accurate. I also have the standard tape measure but seeing as some of my rooms are 32ft across, that gets a little tricky.
The laser "tapes" are about as "accurate" as the sonic ones, unless you spend a chunk of change. The laser measure which I got for Christmas (from my Dad, who likes gadgets the same way I do :-), was a real piece o' c**p: 4-inch resolution, and opposite-end differences as large as 6" on average.

I used a regular tape measure (20 ft). For my living room, I did it in stages: corner to window frame, width of window, to next window, etc. For the large rooms (living room, dining room, and kitchen), I also ended up having to do measurements along every wall, because of doors, pass-throughs, windows, etc.

That turned out to be a big help in the end. When I drew things up on the computer, I could see immediately if the cumulative distance along one wall was different from the opposite wall, and could go back to remeasure individual things to get them to match.
My Stanley's good to around 3mm I think.

If you REALLY want to go to town Leica's Disto is the dog's dangly bits, as we say in the old country.
3 mm is pretty good, certainly good enough for this sort of work. The one I got as a "gift" (cough) was some cheap knockoff.
Find some one to hold the end of the tape !!
Admittedly, lasers are really good for this on your own, but the old methods can be much more accurate....

iceng kelseymh4 years ago
jasonbarresi (author) 4 years ago
Thanks for the replies everyone! It looks like it's going to be graph paper and pencil for this guy...

My only concern is that with the house being so old, it doesn't really fall in line with standard measurements (i.e. I know for a fact that the interior walls are thicker than 4 1/2" in most places but less than that in others). And hints or tips on dealing with the oddities of old houses?
Exactly how accurate do you need to be?

Are you looking for 3 dimensional accuracy or just at floor level?

Most builders will be happy + - 1/2 inch (a lot are more out than that)

Steel work expects +_ 5 mm

Joiners will just make it fit.
jasonbarresi (author)  rickharris4 years ago
It's more for my own reference as I do a lot of DIY renovation so I can usually make +/- 1 inch work.
Shouldn't be that hard then even very old places unless situated in awkward places aren't much more then 1 " out of true.

A friend had a new wall built last year and the builder managed to get the wall to lean out by 21/2 inches top to bottom - So much you can see the lean.

Paper and squared paper is your friend.
Oh, joy :-( You can usually get a reasonable measure of wall thickness at door frames: measure the full frame including the molding, then measure the depth of the molding at the wall surface and subtract.

With an older house, you're also going to have the likelihood that the walls are not necessarily square (which kind of cancels out my "measure all four walls" technique :-( ), and the ceilings/floors are not necessarily level. Do you expect to need elevations also, or just a plan view?

In any event, good luck!
jasonbarresi (author)  kelseymh4 years ago
Oh yes indeed.. I also have the good fortune to be working with plaster walls (which settles oh-so-gracefully) and old knob and tube electrical (I had old non-copper water lines too but I've since replaced all that with PEX).

I think I'm only to have to do elevations on a per-project basis; at the moment I can only think of one instance that I'm going to need to put up an additional wall.

Thanks for the luck, I'm gonna need it! :-)
There are now a few photogrammetry apps for android - take two pictures, displaced by a few inches, and the system returns a 3d model
jasonbarresi (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
Thanks! I'll have to check out the Android options... I downloaded one for my iPad but never used it because they wanted me to watch some crazy 10 minute video before the app would even open.. haha as if my ADHD was about to let that happen.
rickharris4 years ago
Tape measure - Squared paper, Ruler, Pencil - It won't take long.
Re-design4 years ago
The 3d scanners are capable of creating 2d drawings. But that's an extremely expensive solution to what should take an hour or so at most. You could hire someone to do it for a couple hundred. You could probably get a high school or college drafting student for $50.

If you're doing this just to create the device then interface to read the data from a laser distance finder, create a positional sensor that reads the angle and increments it positionally, write the software to take those numbers and creates a coherent plan from that data.  Not going to be an easy task.  Probably going to be a very expensive R/D project also.

Don't forget you have to create some way to link all this data if you scan from more than one point.