I've really enjoyed thinking about this topic. Here are a few that may or may not be in the vein of what you're looking for.
I often count bricks or courses of bricks to get an idea for dimensions. 3 courses of modular brick equals 8". The nominal size of a modular brick is 4x8x2 2/3. This also works for CMU walls where the typical block size is even simpler.
I pace off distances to get rough dimensions. This is faster than going heel-to-toe, but is not as accurate. Things like your speed, and even the shoes you wear, can affect the number of paces you take over a given distance.
How about laying out buildings on a module? I do this with unit masonry to reduce waste and improve the finished appearance. I know some more experienced architects that have a system that's based around a modular unit (I think it's 3'-4"). I've never learned how to do this myself, but would love to learn it.
This also makes me think of "rules of thumb". A former boss had one for the preliminary size of a beam: the depth of the beam will be 1" for every 1 foot of span. Here's another one I've used: preliminary size for a/c unit is 1 ton of cooling for every 400 sf of conditioned area.
I look forward to reading the blog to see how many others you come up with.
Kendal W. Perkins
Architect, AIA, MBA
Apex Architectural Services, LLC
177 Shamard Drive / Natchitoches, LA 71457
Tel: (318) 581-3237
Isn't GOD Good?
Kendal,Regarding block module for CMU, which is normally (full block) 8x8x16, the rule of thumb is simple. If you are at an even number of feet, you can use the even number or the even number + 8". If you are at an odd number of feet, you can ONLY use the odd number + 4". If you are at anything other that those numbers then you are cutting block (or cheating at the joint width).Even numbers work like this:2'-0" or 2'-8"12'-0" or 12'-8"256'-0" or 256'-8"Odd numbers only work with 4".5'-4"7'-4"133'-4"So if you are ever working on a CMU building, make sure all you lengths, openings, etc. fall under those numbers and your mason will appreciate it. BTW, this is the reason a hollow metal frame for a door in CMU wall has a 4" header. Because for a 7 ft door, you would need to be at 7'-4".Hope this helps.
Yes, casual pace (mine) is 36". When measuring large spaces by yourself, I always measure in 10' or 12' increments laying a pencil about 8" away from the tape. Easier to figure multiples of 10 than to try to add consecutive numbers in my head. I also use my big toe as a pointer when looking at something overhead. Amazing how accurate that hack is, consistently.