How Reality Capture is Making Renovations Easier for Commercial Properties

jessica bobinac

Communications Manager

12 July 2021

As any surveyor knows, capturing field conditions for a commercial renovation or infrastructure project is a manual, often analog, and tedious process – not to mention dangerous. Renovations are particularly challenging projects because often buildings were designed before digital blueprints became popular. This almost guarantees you will start a project using static 2D documentation requiring a lot of manual legwork to verify and update the existing conditions.

Reality capture
is changing this by reducing errors, minimizing on-site labor requirements, saving time, and reducing risk, and in turn, producing highly accurate, actionable real-time data that can be connected directly into ongoing 2D and 3D design processes.

What is reality capture?

Reality capture is the process of producing a digital 3D representation of an object, building, or jobsite by scanning it in the field using laser scanners or camera-mounted UAVs. Using reality capture technology, you can create an up-to-date 3D model and manipulate it to detect various challenges, site conditions, and environmental factors that might affect the structure of the location. Once a site is scanned, a detailed set of data points are captured for further processing and automatically registered and stitched into a coordinate point cloud system, cleaned up, and analyzed to create the final product that can be imported into CAD and BIM tools in a matter of minutes.

Once a site is scanned and aligned into a 3D model, owners, architects, subcontractors, and project teams benefit from the confidence that the base information is a model of up-to-date site conditions making it easier to detect challenges earlier than with traditional surveying methods. This gives the team a clear opportunity to overcome potential restrictions and challenges like structural bowing, thermal changes, incorrect installation of MEP systems, and more. Having such a compressive model allows the team to take care of problems much earlier in the design process.

Collaborative validation

Capturing existing field conditions for building renovations was previously an inaccurate and potentially dangerous process often requiring team members to verify and update documents manually. With reality capture, today’s software tools make the final point cloud data easy to manipulate, share, and incorporate into design and construction workflows.

In this digital environment, project teams can take notes, capture feedback, measure current conditions, and more directly inside the model. And because this all happens in real-time, it encourages a far more collaborative environment, remotely.

Begin with the end in sight

Architects, engineers, project managers, site surveyors, and the rest of the project team no longer need to take multiple trips to a site to verify existing conditions. The team can scan the conditions once and design with confidence knowing the data they are designing with is highly detailed, accurate, and actionable. The digitized data provides more value to the project by highlighting both opportunities and potential conflicts design and construction teams may encounter.

The digital revolution has taught us many things, including that small devices are accessible, powerful, and disruptive. Ultimately, the use of these devices mitigates risk and increases personnel safety, especially in hard-to-reach areas. With fewer personnel on-site accessing unsafe or inaccessible areas, there is a significant rise in safety measures and decreased overall risk to the team on site.

For more information about how reality capture can help deliver your projects more accurately and efficiently, contact Brian Presnell, Business Development - Reality Capture,

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