The right measurements for your ceiling, windows and doors

What you need to know:

Buildings must be constructed according to stipulated regulations and adhere to standard practice to ensure safety of occupants and prevent  damage.While measurements can vary from building to building and from room to room, there is a standard, below which is unacceptable

Florence Namutebi set out to construct a three storeyed apartment block with capital from her kyeyo salary in Dubai. 

While her daughter supervised the construction of the foundation, three years later she was back in the country to do the rest herself. Unfortunately, she realised that she has miscalculated and the budget she had would not complete the construction. To complete the structure, Namutebi forced the contractor to be very economical with the materials.

But her biggest mistake was roofing the structure before reaching the wall plate level. This is the timber plate which holds the roof structure including the roof joists, hips and roof rafters.

Although her engineer recommended that wall plate levels should at a minimum be three courses higher than any slab that is destined to support the roof, she insisted and roofed at that level. As expected when the structure was completed, the ceiling height of the second floor was shorter than that of the ground and first floors.

Because of the abnormal looking ceiling height, Namutebi is worried that the floor might fail to attract tenants. The ceiling is so low that any person of average height can touch it without tiptoeing meaning that the ceiling height is about 5.5 feet which is the average human height.

However, architects and engineers recommend the floor-to-ceiling height about 10 feet in most cases so the standard height of the ceiling is 10 feet for a normal residential house.

Joseph Oryang, a civil engineer says ceiling heights is just one of the many unforeseeable mistakes that one can make during construction. The other measurements that are often wrong, he says, are the windows and doors and sometimes the ventilation.

Recommended ceiling height

Oryang says the proper ceiling height and size ensures that there is good ventilation, lighting and the room is comfortable.

However, ceiling height can vary from room to room, for instance, because the kitchen area is a continuously used area of any house, its ceiling height should not be less than 2.75m or nine feet six inches, while the minimum ceiling height of the bedroom should not be less than 2.3 m or seven feet six inches measuring from the top tiles to the bottom of the ceiling.

“This is for a good reason because people tend to spend more time in the living room and need more head room. Technically, it is allowed especially for bungalows as long as you manage the structural aspects that support the ceiling well. Everything on a building should follow the stipulated regulations without sacrificing safety,” Oryang says. 

Architects and engineers recommend the floor-to-ceiling height about 10 feet. PHOTO/Ismail Kezaala

If you build and your ceiling is as low as Namutebi’s, it means there will be limited airflow and if the room gets occupied by my many people, there is risk of suffocation.  The ceiling height depends on a number of things. If you expect more people to be in a particular room, it should be higher so that there is ample air in circulation. 

“Low ceilinged rooms tend to be hotter and stuffy. But then, there are a number of considerations such as ceiling fans that can be used to lessen this defect. These too should be used with caution if the ceiling is too low because they can result in accidents,” Oryang explains.

Window measurements

Allan Atuhaire a mason, says the design and size of windows is an important architectural feature. Windows are used to enhance the aesthetics of a house. For example, floor-to-ceiling windows make a house look luxurious and modern while multiple small windows give it a more traditional look.

Also smaller windows make the space feel intimate and cosy while larger windows can make a room feel more open and airy. When it comes to window functionality and size, Atuhaire says larger windows will let in more light and air, making the space feel more open and inviting.

However, large windows can also be a source of noise from outside traffic or neighbours. If you prefer privacy and quiet then go for smaller windows. 

Additionally, different-sized windows can provide different levels of ventilation. In hot weather, a large window can help to cool down a room, while in cold weather, a smaller window will help to keep heat from escaping. 

For example, most home owners normally use large windows for brighter light in the dining and living rooms compared to the bedroom where you go to rest.

For living rooms that have full height window and width should be as per the width of the room itself, but generally standard size of living room window should be about 1.8 × 1.2 in metres.

The standard window size for most homes is a single or double-hung window that is 24 to 48 inches wide.

“If the windows are small, you will have little natural light coming in during the day meaning you will have to supplement it with artificial light, which increase your electricity bill. The more natural light intensity you need, the bigger the windows,” Atuhaire explains. 

Jimmy Wagaba, an engineer says different types of windows have different measurements. If someone has chosen picture windows then their windows will be quite large.

But typically the standard size for picture windows ranges from 24 to 96 inches wide. Some other homes have sliding windows that can be up to 84 inches wide while bay windows come in many different sizes, but the most common size is three to six feet inches to 10 to six feet  inches.

The standard size of windows should for residential buildings should be 0.9 × 1.2 in metres.

Door measurements

Wagaba says doors are a major important element of any home, they are not only aesthetically pleasing but also provide privacy and security. A good door should be durable, strong and able to withstand weather elements such as rain and sun. 

The entrance door of any house creates a lasting impression on visitor’s mind especially if they are elegantly done or completed in a bad shape.

Nowadays doors are made according to the requirement of the owner. There is the standard door size for some fixed components in the home such as the main door, bathroom, garage, etc.

For custom door orders, you will need to know the door size, height, and door width. Anything below 32 inches is discouraged.  Oryang say the height should be high enough for a person of any height to walk through comfortably.

However, you can also make the main door height much higher so that it looks grand especially if you have a big house so that it matches the house volume.

 The standard door size is 6.8 feet which does not include the size of the door frame. The door frame size is generally wider than the door opening. The door frame post has a width between two to four inches.

Standard door width

The door width is not fixed, it can vary depending upon materials and uses. However, the most used standard internal door width is around 32 inches and the external door width is 36 inches.

Ventilation size

Cross ventilation is also important. There should be vents that allow in and out of air. Cross ventilation is when you have equal sizes and measurements of ventilators over doors and another over windows so that air can go through vents simultaneously to allow air balance and circulation in a home.  

Window size (width × height):-

●  2′ × 3′ – for small rooms
● 2′ 6″ × 3′ – for small rooms
● 3′ × 4′ – for standard rooms
●4′ × 4′ – for medium rooms
● 5′ × 4′ – for medium rooms
● 6′ × 4′ – for medium rooms
● 7′ × 5′ – for large rooms
● 8′ × 5′ – for large rooms

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