How to Measure a House with a Tape Measure
At the start of April 1st, 2022, appraisers have been required to measure all single family properties to ANSI standards Z765-2021. This applies to conventional orders. It does not apply (currently) to FHA, VA or multi-unit properties (see Fannie Mae ANSI guidance). With this is mind, it now becomes quite a challenge to measure a property to ANSI standards with a tape measure as ANSI requires properties measured to the nearest tenth of a foot. As you know being an appraiser, closing your sketch reconciles your measurements, so when measuring to the nearest tenth of foot, closing the sketch does become more challenging. How can we make this process less challenging?
The key is accurate measuring!
Can Tape Measuring Be ANSI Compliant?
The main thing is being accurate. With ANSI requiring measurements to the nearest tenth of a foot, it can often be extremely difficult to reconcile your measurements (close the sketch) if you are even off by 1/10 of a foot. That being said, tape measures (especially over longer distances) do create a ‘slack’ in the tape which may throw off measurements. It is sometimes gratifying to utilize a reel measure to confirm or get a measurement that could not be easily obtained with laser. Lufkin makes a great visible product that is ideal for ANSI as their measurements are configured for tenths. Now, it still remains an issue to measure accurately and in the field, the only way to ensure to do this is to utilize the teeth on the tape or reel measure to the siding and make it taut the entire way. When this is not feasible however, carrying a screwdriver is very handy. Using the screwdriver as a stake and running a tape along that can aide in a measurement when going alongside a house is not feasible.
What about Laser Measuring for ANSI?
Hands down a laser measurement is going to produce a measurement with lesser room for error.
The Disto D-810 by many is considered a little over the top however it leaves so little room for error. Why does the Disto D-810 leave so little room for measurement error when measuring single family properties you ask? The reason is Horizontal Measurement Setting (Smart Hortizonal Mode).
Now this setting essentially utilizes the gyroscope within the laser measure and with trigonometry, calculates the horizontal width for a measured distance. This is ideal for when you have to bounce the laser off a gutter end cap, an awning, or anything that may be elevated slightly and through your measurements off.
Since ANSI has been implemented, many appraisers have rationalized doing more non-Fannie work or private appraisals to avoid this requirement however it is unlikely this requirement will be going away. If anything, soon VA and FHA loans will soon require ANSI compliant measurements with this. There are so many features to the Disto D-810 that are not covered here that do warrant the higher sticker price. Please check out our post on the Best Laser Measure for Appraisers. Regardless if you continue the path with a tape measure, it is essential that we as appraiser’s minimize the room for error. This can be achieved with a taut tape and or a screwdriver ‘stake’ in the ground as well. However, if sketches are taking too much time, it truly may be time to switch to a laser measure today.