Architecture and Planning / Architecture

Building Documentation Services are Really Cool. Check Them Out.


Modern architecture has embraced technology and is using laser imaging and advanced software. The days of drawing up physical blueprints are ending. One of the most interesting aspects of using laser scanning and advanced software is building documentation.

These days many construction projects are actually renovations and retrofits of existing structures. With the real estate market as hot as it has been, more and more residential and commercial buildings have been changing hands. Most of the time when this happens, the new owners are keen to make changes to the property. These existing properties often have blueprints on file with the city or municipality where the building is located, and are often the records that new owners begin with when they buy a property.

This system isn’t perfect because of a few factors. First, the plans on file are often old. In some cases, maybe hundreds of years old. Second, the blueprints are often inaccurate. There could have been additions and subtractions made over the years. Property lines might have changed. The good news is the embrace of modernity in architecture and construction has made dealing with these eventualities easier than ever.

Laser scanning and the 3D models they produce is a process in the business called “scan-to-BIM.” BIM stands for Building Information Model, and that is what is produced after the comprehensive scan. The BIM ends up being the replacement for a building’s on-file blueprints. This comprehensive building documentation is crucial for any kind of retrofit or renovation.

If a contractor is only following decades old blueprints for a renovation, there is a great chance they are going to run into problems. There are going to be rooms added that aren’t on the blueprint. The utility set-ups might be totally different than what is shown on paper. A 3D laser scan before the project starts is the only way to avoid these issues. The laser scans are incredibly accurate and will be able to identify even the smallest discrepancies from the paper blueprints.

Efficiency is the main reason to invest in a building scan. Efficiency is why any business invests in a tech upgrade. Using the latest advancements available allows for any construction site to save time and money. Running into unforeseen issues on a construction site will grind progress to a halt. Having to pay out of pocket for additional help to fix those issues will wreak havoc on budgets. A simple way to avoid these possibilities is to spring for a scan of the building that is due to be renovated.

The Historical Preservation Aspect

One of the most interesting applications of this new tech in surveying and construction is in the preservation of historic buildings. Building documentation service are great for creating detailed plans of a renovation project, but they can also serve another purpose. Laser scans turned into 3D BIMs can be used to document treasured historic buildings.

Some of the companies leading the 3D scanning industry have even made it their mission to document historical landmarks. Recognizing that our past is worth protecting for future generations to cherish is a noble thought. The use of specific knowledge and technical expertise to document and preserve places of significant cultural and historical value is a gamechanger for many.

Outside of the altruistic motives of keeping buildings and other structures of note around for the future generations,

There are practical applications to using this tech such as:

• Contact free. Many of the structures that need historical preservation are in bad shape and further human contact could make things worse. A 3D laser scan is minimally invasive and helps conservators keep their distance when necessary.

• Higher standards. For these places to get listed on historical registers or even in the Library of Congress, they must meet high standards of proof. Advanced building documentation services can help meet the standards of organizations like the National Parks System’s HABS/ HAER/ HALS program in less time and with more efficiency.

• Monetizing history. If someone can prove their house is of historical significance, it could greatly improve their lives. Owners could receive tax incentives and see their property value greatly increased with a historical designation.

• 3D models are cool. Unlike a traditional 2D map or floor plan, a BIM image can recreate a building’s past in 3D. A historic BIM can incorporate many different layers or versions of a building’s past into one model. You could view the building as it stood in the period you are interested in.

Whether it is for profit or for historical preservation, building documentation has taken a giant leap forward with the application of these new methods.

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