The benefits of using 3D design in building surveying

Tuesday 9th January 2018
The benefits of using 3D design in building surveying

In our latest blog post we look at the benefits of using 3D design in building surveying…

Designing in 3D over 2D

Over the previous decade, the construction industry has seen a rapid rise in the use of Building Information Modelling and 3D design tools. This is mainly due to the government mandate which outlined that all government-funded projects should complete to ‘BIM Level 2’ by 2016.

While BIM level 2 has proved its benefits on large projects throughout the UK, as building surveyors there are fewer opportunities to get involved in full BIM collaboration projects. It is more likely that we will get involved with smaller-scale design projects such as internal office/retail/school refurbishments, commercial building extensions, roof replacements and generally smaller works.

However, there are still many benefits to be exploited through the utilisation of BIM technologies for these smaller projects.

Visual benefits

The initial benefit to surveyors utilising 3D design package is the ability to produce a 3D model as well as 2D design information. This allows us to be able to demonstrate design ideas to clients in a more visual way through the use of 3D animations, building walkthroughs, perspective views all which help the client understand our intentions.

While it’s paramount for clients to understand the design ideas we produce, the 3D model can also be used to demonstrate designs to local planning authorities to outline how the design fits in with the streetscape. Contractors may also benefit from seeing a design in 3D as well as the 2D design information.

The use of Virtual Reality headsets such as the google cardboard can also be used to explore 3D models.

Building Information

As surveyors, we can then use the 3D model to extract useful and coordinated building information that can be used when nearing the construction phase. By inputting 3D BIM objects which have been specified into the model, the software can then automatically produce information such as door and window schedules, calculate room areas, material take offs etc.

We can also collaborate our model with other consultants which may be working on a project, for example, a structural engineer who may need to input his design into our architectural model to ensure measurements and eliminate clashes. This allows us to identify clashes and differences in measurement before we get the project on site, saving time and money for the client.

Laser scanning

As surveyors, our bread and butter is to provide measured surveyors for clients which usually involves taking a laser measure and sketching out the drawing by hand. There is often risk human error and the possibility of measurements not being totally accurate. When designing a refurbishment or an extension of an existing building it is of paramount importance to get extremely accurate information to work from.

Using a 3D laser scanner to measure the existing building creates a point cloud which can be imported into the BIM software. The laser scan data is generally accurate +/- 3mm and gives a full 3D representation of the building. Using this data we can then model the existing building around the scan data ensuring a greater level of accuracy.

Designing alterations on this basis gives you the comfort of knowing that the drawings are accurate. As well as this by overlaying the design onto the scan data, you can often see how the design will look in relation to its surroundings.

For further information on our 3D design & laser scanning services please contact a member of the team on 0191 232 7030 or email