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Anybody using one of those laser measuring thingies?

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Kathy in FL

Thread Starter
Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Florida
We have a lot of weird houses here, including ones on stilts and concrete block homes with rounded corners...so I really love my rolling wheel.

I'd like to try one of those laser things I keep hearing about, but can't IMAGINE how it works. Anyone using one? What kind? Do you like it?

Kathy in FL
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Kathy,


I decided to respond to your post since you haven’t had any replies. The laser tools that you mentioned are called Disto Laser Distance Meters and are manufactured by Leica, Inc. They weigh less than 16 ounces, are about 6 to 7 inches long, and will measure up to 300 feet. They will measure in ft/inches, ft/ tenths, inches or meters. Unlike ultrasonic measuring tools that use sound waves to calculate distances, these use actual laser technology. This makes them ideal for an appraiser because the laser technology is not affected by weather. Ultrasonic tools should not be used outside because extreme temperatures and other weather conditions can affect the speed at which sound travels.

Using a Disto is very easy. Just aim the laser at a target and push a button. The measurement is displayed instantly. The Disto will keep you from having to straddle bushes, walk through gardens, step in muddy areas or deal with anything else that is in your way. Just aim the laser over, under or around these things to get your measurement. Ever opened a garage door only to find the homeowner is using it for storage? This can be pretty frustrating when measuring with a tape but it is simple with a Disto. Just point and shoot.

Here are a few things that can be used as a target when measuring outside:

Walls
Downspouts/gutters
Cable & phone boxes
A/C units
Trees

Basically, you can use anything that is solid. The only thing you can’t use is a window because the laser will pass through the glass.

The most commonly asked question about the Disto tools is, “How do you measure a straight wall when you have nothing to use as a target?” You have several options:

1) The Disto Classic, Pro, & Pro A all have the Pythagorean function. You face one of the corners, of the wall you are measuring, at a right angle, aim the laser at that corner, and take the measurement. You then aim the laser at the opposite corner and take that
measurement. The Disto will then tell you the length of the wall. The Pythagorean function allows you to stand as close or as far from the wall as you want.

2) If using a Disto Lite, you can step away from the wall ( no more than 2 feet) and then aim the laser at the opposite corner. As long as you stay within 2 feet, your measurement will be accurate.

It should be noted that most residential walls have something that you can use as a target. Downspouts/gutters make great targets. While we all hate downspouts when measuring with a tape ( they make hooking the tape to a corner pretty difficult), you will love them when using a Disto. Also, you can break up a long measurement into 2 or 3 measurements. Cable & phone boxes & a/c units make great targets for this.


The main thing to remember about these tools is that they will cut your “exterior” measuring time in half. If you need to measure an interior (2nd/3rd floor, basement, attic), your measuring time will be reduced by 75% because you always have targets when measuring inside (walls, furniture, toys, etc..). Just point and shoot. Need to know the height of a ceiling? No problem. Put the Disto on the ground, aim it at the ceiling, and take the measurement. It is that simple.


If you would like to chat with other appraisers who are using these tools, feel free to join the Laser Appraiser email group. Here is the link………
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaserAppraiser/

If you would like to see the Disto tools at AppraiserDepot.com, click on this link………… http://www.appraiserdepot.com/merchant3/merchant.mv

If you buy one through the AppraiserDepot.com, you can use the Disto for 30 days. If you don’t like it, you can return it.


If you email me privately, I will send you the email address of an appraiser in Key West that started using a Disto 2 weeks ago. She appraises houses on stilts and says that the Disto works great. My email address is [email protected] .

Best Regards,
 

cgjerdetu

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Kathy

I got a Disto Classic a couple of months ago and after the initial learning curve (less than a week) I haven't used a tape since. It is fairly expensive, but I think it is much easier to use on homes with lots of angles and saves a bit of time even on rectangular homes. There is no way I would go back to using a tape measure after getting used to a laser measuring device.


Carolyn
 

Tim Hicks (Texas)

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Texas
Matt,

I have ordered one from your site. I hope it lives up to its hype. I am looking forward to giving it a try. I am very skeptical about its accuracy and I will probably string my tape measure and check its accuracy for a while. I am curious about how it handles bay windows, semi-circle windows as well as straight line walls with nothing to aim at. Also, does bright sunlight effect its usefulness? The Texas sun plays havoc on my camera, so I would assume it could do the same with a laser product. I hate returning things, so it better live up to the hype. Thanks for you excellent post, it got me interested and I am a hard sale.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Tim,

Even though we spoke on the phone a few minutes ago, I thought I would go ahead and post in case someone was waiting for answers.

When Leica approached me about using/selling these tools, I was extremely skeptical. While using something other than a tape to measure outside sounded good in theory, I really didn’t think it was possible. I reluctantly decided to go ahead and meet with the Leica rep. I make it a habit not to turn down free lunches. As a friend once told me, food is good but free food is better :D . Anyway, after being given a Disto, I immediately put it to the test. I stretched my tape out to different lengths and started shooting the laser. Each time, the Disto was accurate. I even tried to trick it by measuring to the half inch, but the Disto measured that correctly, too. In short, you don’t have to worry about a Disto being accurate. The “phase-shift laser technology” guarantees that your measurements will always be accurate. If the Disto can’t get an accurate measurement, it will give you an error message.

We have all had situations where we had to get creative when measuring with a tape. The Disto is no different. However, when you have to get creative with the Disto, you will still be saving time compared to a tape. Bay windows are easy to measure. In order to measure the wall that sticks out at a 45-degree angle, put the Disto at the end of the wall so that the laser is aiming back at the main wall. For the middle measurement, you can use the Pythagorean function, the 2-foot technique described in my original post, or you can create a target (lean your clipboard or pocket pc against the other end of the wall and use it as a target).

As I said in my original post, you have several options for measuring straight walls. You can use the Pythagorean function, 2 step technique or break the measurement into several measurements by using cable/boxes, a/c units, etc as targets. Don’t forget about gutters/downspouts—they make awesome targets. It should also be noted that if you want to create a target, it can be as simple as putting a post-it-note on the wall so that it sticks out at a 90 degree angle.

Bright sunlight can make seeing the laser pretty difficult if you are taking long measurements (over 50 or 60 feet). Most of the time, residential properties have shady areas under the roof. Since you will be taking most of your measurements standing next to a wall, this works perfectly. However, if you find yourself measuring in an area where there is no shade and you are having trouble seeing the laser, here is a trick: aim the laser at your feet and keep your eye on the laser as you move it toward your target. This should solve your problem. If it doesn’t, you can always purchase a telescopic viewer, which attaches magnetically to the side of the Disto. It is a small, lightweight telescope (it will fit in your pocket) that gives you the ability to see the laser at distances up to 300 feet. Only 20% of the appraisers who have purchased a Disto from my website have returned to purchase a telescopic viewer. The majority of appraisers have said that they don’t need it.

For those of you that have used an ultrasonic tool in the past and were not pleased with the results, keep in mind that the Disto tools use totally different technology. Ultrasonic tools send out sound waves in a “spray”. Unless you have a flat wall with nothing in front of you, you will probably get an inaccurate measurement because the sound waves will bounce off everything in front of you. By using a single laser beam, the Disto gives you the ability to pinpoint your target and measure accurately.


Best Regards,
 

cgjerdetu

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Tim

I'm in sunny California and I have the scope for the disto which makes it possible to see the laser in BRIGHT sunlight. I feel using the scope makes taking the measurements faster. There are times when I might be able to see the laser without the scope (moderate sunlight) but it is often faster to just look through the scope to see the laser. I don't use the scope for all of my measurements, there are times when the laser is very visible.

After using the disto for a while you get really creative in finding targets to bounce the laser off of. I don't worry about the accuracy because I know the disto is more accurate than the way I measured with a tape when there were obstructions involved.

Carolyn
 

Tim Hicks (Texas)

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Texas
I have had the disto for about two weeks and I am not convinced. It is not faster than dragging a tape and accuracy can be questioned. It is easier to run a tape down a straight wall and quicker too. It does work well when you have a shaded area and a target (wall). Right now I am not confident in the Disto. It is simply easier to string a tape measure down a 48 foot wall than it is to search for something to aim at. I have found the same problem wtih schrubbery that you have with a tape measure. How do you aim at a wall you can not see and sometimes there is no room for you to see where you are aiming? Plus, sometimes it hits something else and gives you a short measure. Measuring the home is vital to our profession and I round to the tenth of a foot for accuracy. I feel that accurate measurements are a testiment to our professionalism. When you take away the accuracy, then everything we do gets watered down. Currently it makes no sense to use only the Disto. It works great in the same places a tape measure works great. The cost just does not seem to be worth it if you still have to carry both. Any hints or comments?
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Tim,

These tools are 100% accurate---if your Disto isn’t coming up with the correct measurement, then something is wrong with it. Here is a quick test to see if it is measuring accurately: Put one end of your measuring tape against a wall and stretch the tape out as far as you can. Put the Disto next to the tape and have the laser aimed at the wall. Take a bunch of measurements (at different lengths) and see if the Disto is accurate. If it isn’t, we need to get you a new one.

You are only aiming a single laser beam. If your laser isn’t staying on a target, it is because you are moving it.

Remember, the sky is the limit when it comes to what you can use as a target. For instance, I appraised a house this morning and aimed the laser at a gas grill on a patio. Anything but a window can be used as a target. Let’s say you are a measuring a 50’ wall and there is nothing at the end of the wall to use as a target. However, you notice that there is an air conditioning unit between you and the end of the wall. Stand at one corner and aim the laser at the a/c unit and take the measurement. Then measure the width of the a/c unit. Then go to the other corner and aim the laser back at the other side of the a/c unit. Have the Disto add all 3 measurements together. That may seem silly and probably sounds like it will take a long time, but it doesn’t. In fact, if we were measuring together, I would be done with that measurement and almost done with the next measurement by the time you had finished reeling in your tape. And yes, my measurements would be 100% accurate. :lol:

If you’re having trouble seeing the laser, you should get the “telescopic viewer” or purchase a monocular to help you see it. Either one will solve your problems.

Almost 1,000 appraisers are using these tools and have told me that they won’t ever measure with a tape again. Just ask the appraisers who are in the LaserAppraiser email group. None of them would have paid money for something that didn’t measure accurately or save them time.

If you need help or have questions, I am always available. On the other hand, if you don’t want it anymore and would prefer measuring with a tape, you can send back the Disto for a refund. As you know, I am very easy to deal with.
 

cgjerdetu

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Tim

Although it is another expense, you may want to consider the scope. It is a small telescopic viewer that attaches magnetically to the side of the disto. I can see the laser clearly in full sun with the scope. Also the scope helps to pinpoint the laser to a very small area between bushes, on downspouts, etc.

I haven't used a tape measure in months. I know my measurements are more accurate and easier with the disto -- however, I don't think I always used "proper" tape measure technique.

The disto wouldn't be as useful to me if I did not have the scope -- even in shady areas I have trouble seeing the target at longer distances (above 50 ft). With the scope the target jumps out and is very easy to see.

You may also want to check out this link for a less expensive "home-made" viewer:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaserApprais...o%20Remodel.pdf

and another post about the viewer:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaserApprais...ewer%20Test.pdf

Carolyn
 
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