Ten techie homeowner tips for Jason's new house

Summary:Ten bits of wisdom earned the hard way: from making mistakes and learning from them.

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Jason Perlow, our very own TechBroiler, has been telling us recently about his preparations to move from New Jersey to Florida.

Since I've already done that once, and since I recently moved into a fixer-upper and fixer'd it up, I figured I had some wisdom I could share with Jason about how to make the process run more smoothly.

Here then, are ten tips on the occasion of Jason's new house.

Tip 1. Buy a magical measuring machine

Without a doubt, the single most valuable tool I had in my most recent move was the Bosch DLR130K Digital Distance Measurer. I used it to develop a very carefully put-together floor plan in the new house, and everything fit to the centimeter.


There's a difference between this device (which is about a hundred bucks) and the measuring devices that say they use laser. Most cheaper measuring devices use a laser LED as a pointer, to tell you where you're measuring to, but use sonar (i.e., sound) to render the actual measurement. Sound can be easily distorted in a home, and so the measurements, if accurate at all, could be off by an inch or two.

This device measures through the actual refraction of the laser beam, and I found it to be astonishingly accurate. The proof was when five moving people had to unload a very tightly positioned set of shelves that turned a corner, and every single piece fit.

Tip 2. Visio for floor plans

Speaking of floor plans, I found Microsoft's Visio to be just the right tool for preparing floor plans.


Visio is a lesser-known component of Microsoft's Office suite, and while it's not a CAD system in its own right, it proved to be perfect for floor planning. You can define objects, set dimensions to them, use layering, and more.

What I did was create a layer for the outer walls, another layer for the inner walls (we moved some of these), another layer showing where each wall socket and (eventually) CAT5 drop would be, a carpet layer, and then a furniture layer. This allowed me to independently move things around, until we found layouts we liked.

As it turned out, this was hugely valuable, because while we thought we'd want the gym in one room, once we put together the floor plan, we realized it wouldn't work. So I moved it to another location, and then relocated the office, and after a few rounds of this, we wound up with a floor plan on "paper" that we could use to direct the movers.

This proved doubly important because setting up the gym is not a simple task. Putting together the universal machine is a full-day operation, and if we'd put it together and hated it, we'd have had a huge effort on our hands to change it up.

As it is, we've been in the space for a year now, and love it. A good part of that is because of careful floor planning. Which leads me to Tip #3...

Topics: Google

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In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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