3D Building Documentation – Scan to CAD – Scan to BIM

3D Scanning for building data capture and extraction of architectural & structural BIM and CAD drawings

The challenge

The fast and complete as-built documentation of all kinds of buildings and facilities poses a big challenge for architects, engineers, AEC and facility management professionals, etc. The need for up-to-date and accurate 2D drawings and intelligent 3D models is constantly growing. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a growing market trend – soon to become a global standard. BIM provides architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

The solution

To this purpose, Astrolabe Engineering combines different 3D Reality Capture tools and techniques, such as terrestrial 3D Scanning, True 3D Virtual Tours by-products and Photogrammetry for 3D Building data capture, as well as Scan to CAD – Scan to BIM workflows for the generation of reliable deliverables for multiple uses and applications:

  • Building Information Modeling (BIM)
  • Digital Building Identity – Building Registry
  • Maintenance and restoration of preservable buildings, monuments, temples, etc
  • Maintenance and renovation of hotel facilities, hospitals, industrial buildings, etc
  • Redesign and completion of unfinished buildings
  • Checking of building structural integrity
  • Structural elements verticality and levelness inspection
  • Building permits – legalization of unauthorized constructions
  • Construction monitoring and support
  • and more…

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Astrolabe Engineering has performed 3D architectural and structural documentation surveys in more than 100 buildings and building complexes in Greece and Worldwide. These include hospitals, hotel facilities, factories, multi-storey buildings, traditional and preservable buildings, etc. The projects comprised the complete internal and external 3D surveys of buildings / building complexes and the generation of architectural – structural drawings (floor plans, elevations, sections), BIM models, inspection reports, etc.

Methods and tools

3D laser scanning is the most efficient technique for fast, complete, reliable and accurate geometric and photographic documentation of objects of architectural interest (interior and exterior of buildings, facades, surrounding areas, etc.). The method digitally captures and records the building or space, as it is at the time of scanning, and transfers it to our computer (in the form of a three-dimensional colored pointcloud), for archiving and further processing. The method is especially useful for the documentation and monitoring of dynamically changing structures (e.g. buildings under construction or restoration or sufferring damages over time).

Depending on the purpose of the 3D building survey and the accuracy requirements, 3D laser scanning may be replaced or supplemented by other 3D Reality Capture technologies. To reduce field data capture time and costs, we optionally use a state-of-the-art high-resolution panoramic HDR camera, which also records via structured infrared light the 3D geometry of closed spaces. While typically used for our True 3D Virtual Tours, this method can produce building interiors’ pointclouds with an accuracy better than 1%.

In case of difficult site conditions, to capture the exterior of buildings (e.g. inaccessible roofs or facades), the above techniques can be combined with UAV/drone photogrammetry and processing via Image Based Processing software.

Following the data capture field work and depending on the combination of methods, we perform several pre-processing tasks to import, filter, clean, align, georefence and colorize the 3D field data. Ultimately, we generate a unified colored georeferenced pointcloud. From this point on, we deploy different post-processing workflows based on the project requirements and the specific needs of the client, for the production of ready-to-use deliverables.

  • 3D scanning NOVAL Scan2BIM FARO Focus
  • Historic Gasholder 3D Documentation motif
  • 3D scanning NOVAL Scan2BIM FARO Focus
  • Matterport dollhouse
  • Virtual Tour device compatibility

Results – Deliverables

Commonly required digital deliverables include:

  • Unified colored 3D pointcloud in combination with documentation through panoramic images and the ability to interactively browse and extract measurements. It is usually delivered in Autodesk ReCap (RCP) format, suitable for importing in all Autodesk applications (AutoCAD, Revit, etc).
  • Orthoimages of elevations, floor plans, sections at any position. They are delivered as images embedded in digital DWG files, allowing the direct digitization to generate the respective drawings.
  • 2D architectural and structural as-built CAD drawings (elevations, floor plans, sections) in DWG / DXF format.
  • Inspection and deviation maps and reports to check for distortions (e.g. deviations from a horizontal of vertical plane, comparison between design and as-built).
  • 3D CAD or BIM models in Autodesk Revit format.
  • True 3D Virtual Tours.
  • and more…

Cooperation flexibility

The range of deliverables allows for flexible ways of cooperation with the creation of specialized packages of deliverables according to each client’s requirements, workflow and budget.

For example, a form of cooperation may include the 3D scanning survey and the rapid delivery from our side of comprehensible and easily usable products (pointcloud, panoramas and orthoimages). In this case, the final CAD, BIM and design work can be done by the client. The obvious advantages are time and cost reduction, utilization of the client’s staff and the generation of as-built drawings based on his needs, experience, project orientation and scientific judgment.

In other scenarios, we undertake the complete generation of any deliverable with our own specialized architects and modelers, if required. We always aim to understand the specific client’s needs and suggest an appropriate integrated solution for every building documentation project.

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