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Ructions over measurements

November 28, 2009

As mentioned previously the non-squareness of the walls of this house provided some interesting challenges during the renovations.  Prior to moving in they caused us to re-work plans for the utility room when it became clear that things simply wouldn’t fit due to the allowances that had to be made for the quirky walls.

Upstairs proved just as challenging, but for different reasons.  When we acquired the house the upstairs was essentially an unfinished open space with a bathroom built into one corner.  Around about the centre of the room was a supporting pillar, and half way across a 3 inch step down.  To be able to plan where and how we’d divide the space we needed at least a rough plan of the space.

We spent hours and hours measuring and remeasuring the space … and nearly came to blows.

Now, where should we put the walls?

Hey! A drop in the floor. Shall we put a wall there?

The intention was to confirm the width of the space by measuring it in three different locations;

  • Measurement #1: the inside of the back wall of the house + the depth of the bathroom
  • Measurement #2:  wall to pillar + width of pillar + pillar to other wall
  • Measurement #3:  the inside of the front of the house

All three measurements should have been the same; each was the long end of a rectangle measured at a different point, but there was a massive inconsistency, over half a metre.

We re-measured, and then measured again.  We shouted, we swore, and there may even have been a little throwing of tape measures and the like.

We were totally baffled.  If the shape was a rectangle then those three measurements should be the same.

Eventually the penny dropped.  The house shape is not rectangular, it’s trapezoid.

The front and back walls are (vaguely – let’s not go there right now shall we?) parallel, whilst the side walls extend out.  Essentially the front of the house is a little over half a meter longer than the back of the house.

No, once more, we have no idea why this should be so.

A handy trapezoid diagram
A handy trapezoid diagram

Anyway, our measurement #1 was ‘a’ in the diagram, #2 ‘m’ across the middle of the space and #3 across the front of the house ‘b’.

With hindsight it might be clear how we got to hurling insults before we figured out what was going on.

Note the water tank in danger of collapsing

Note the 1000 litre water tank in danger of collapsing through the bathroom ceiling

Incidentally, a little research for a handy diagram of a trapezoid finds that it’s not a term used in North America.  Who knew?  For any American or Canadian readers the shape in question is an irregular quadrilateral!

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