3 min read

How New Technology Can Augment (Or Even Replace) Your Historic Building Drawings

Historic buildings are an important part of the heritage and legacy of the context in which they sit. People mark the passage of time with them, restore them, use them as a reference point when giving directions—there is no debating the significance of great historic places.

But what happens when you’re looking to restore or revamp a historic building? Although there can be a lot of nostalgia associated with old plans that an architect drew a hundred years ago, the best place for them might be inside a frame hanging on the wall of the new building. Using the newest technology to create the drawings you and your team will be working off of during design and construction will integrate history and innovation in the best possible way.

Read about

  • Accurate Documentation
  • Reducing Risks
  • Cutting Costs

New technology ensures that the construction process respects the history and majesty of these older buildings while keeping your team moving forward on the project accurately and efficiently.

Documenting The Years

As you know, in the built world there is rarely such a thing as a “flat surface” or a “90 degree angle.” Historic buildings are no exception. Because structures shift over time, the actual construction results today may differ greatly from original floor plans or intentions.

Not only that, but buildings serve different purposes over time, which may result in subdivisions of space, windows being filled in, facades being built, or any other number of undocumented changes. The ability to capture all of the nuance that reflects the building today is really only possible through 3D laser scanning technology.

Reducing Risks

With the ever-shifting structure and purpose of historic buildings in mind, endless variables come into play. Although sometimes you might be working on regular restoration projects for well-maintained historic sites, many old buildings are not in great shape. Your team could encounter safety concerns on-site such as people or animals inside the building, poor or toxic air quality, dark spaces, and nasty weather.

You could work off of the old or original documentation that almost certainly contains inaccuracies. Another option? Send a junior member of your team into the field—with all of the enthusiasm and willpower to want to do a great job—but who lacks the tools, experience and expertise. By leveraging 3D laser scanning, you keep your team safe and by sending in a trained group of experts instead.

New technology that augments your historical building drawings adds value to your project. It also reduces the risk of inaccuracies that could lead to costly mistakes. Hiring a firm that uses this technology in an expert way means that they effectively become your eyes in the field. By using 3D laser scanning and building modeling tools, you have even more knowledge than if you were on-site inspecting every detail yourself. The tools and technologies used today ensure that design and construction teams have complete situational awareness. Then you can focus on doing great work based on their drawings.

Digital scanning captures billions of data points in a very precise manner, and then like a Pointillist painting, they become a 3D model. This model can translate to 2D drawings in CAD (or similar software), enabling you to virtually walk through the existing historical building and determine how to move forward. Using a partner that has the right technology can ensure you get your drawings right the first time.

Cutting Costs

Using a 3D laser scanner not only reduces the risk of error on your project, but using it can eliminate unnecessary expenses. When you have the option to use accurate measurements to give you—down to the decimal point—the exact amount of materials you’ll need to complete your project, why wouldn’t you take it? Savings like those can go a long way.

Even if it seems like a big investment upfront, the efficiency that comes with expertise—and the accuracy that comes with laser scanning—makes new technology an essential part of creating historic building drawings.

Working as an extension of your team, the right firm could deploy 3D laser scanning and deliver a set of documents to your exact specifications, working within your templates. The deliverable is, or should be, plug-and-play. Once you have that framework, you can avoid unnecessary headaches, litigation risk, construction change orders, and other cost overruns that can slow down your project. You eliminate unpleasantness by starting accurate and staying accurate.

Since you can’t rely on the accuracy of old drawing sets, why not set yourself up for success by getting accurate existing conditions drawings of your historical buildings from the jump? Start fresh, and know it’s all accurate from day one.

Amanda Zaslow, Charlene Gilman, and Paul Lindsey

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