Outsourcing As-Built Plans

For many years, it has been common practice in the architectural community to outsource related professional services such as structural calculations, interior design, and model development to companies. But for one reason or the other, As-Built drawings have not reached the same level of ubiquity as a stand-alone service. In simple terms, an As-Built Drawing is a plan that depicts the condition of a property.

An As-Built plan should accurately reflect the way the building was originally built, plus any changes that may have occurred on the property to date. But an As-Built drawing is NOT a design drawing - it will not reflect any planned changes or remodels to the building. That is why you say the drawing is "As-Built".

Who Needs As-Built Plans?

Asbuilt drawings are an essential starting point for ANY remodel project on a residential or commercial property. In order to create a new design and construction drawings, you must first know the exact layout and conditions of the structure you are working with. Therefore, As-Built plans are most commonly used in the following industries

- Architecture: It all starts with the architect, at the earliest phases of the design process. Architects are the single biggest users of As-Built drawings. Also related to architecture would be interior designers, contractors, and other property consultants that use the plans for the same purpose.

- Real Estate: As-Built drawings enhance marketing plans by providing prospective customers with a realistic view of a property which makes the use of such drawings quite important to real-estate agents and homeowners marketing properties. The plans can also be used to confirm Square Footage, do space planning, and more.

- Facilities Management: For very large buildings or for companies with extensive real-estate assets, As-Built plans are a critical tool for the continual assessment and management of their physical portfolio.

Objections Towards Outsourcing As-Built Survey

In some local geographic markets such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is quite common amongst the architecture community to outsource their As-Built surveying to a specialized independent firm. These architects have realized the benefits that come from working with a professional measuring company that can create an As-Built plan more accurately and quickly than they could do themselves. However in other markets such as Seattle, there is a much greater resistance towards the outsourcing of As-Built services. Objections include:

- Relinquishing Control: Many architects find it difficult to relinquish control of any part of their design process due to fear that the service provider could negatively affect the project.

- Loss of Billable Hours: Some architects rely on the fees they charge for building measurement and don't want to absorb a rise in project costs - even though the As-Builts are usually billed at a much lower rate than the high-end design services.

- Quality concerns: Many architects fear that outsourcing could lead to an inaccurate or incomplete As-Built product - despite the fact that the professional measuring firms typically have better tools, technology, and experience.

The Benefits of Outsourcing As-Builts

When properly done with an experienced and reputable firm, there are numerous benefits that come from working with a professional As-Built company:

- Increased Efficiency: By starting each project with a consistent set of As-Builts, you can streamline your entire design process. You and your staff can focus your time and effort on what you do best, with the confidence that comes from knowing you are working with accurate As-Built drawings.

- Better Results: With the tools, technology and experience that come from focusing solely on As-Built measuring, you will receive a more accurate and detailed set of drawings than you would be able to create yourself or by using your own staff.

- Flexibility: Your project should NEVER be delayed because you are too busy to get out to the property and take measurements. When you outsource your As-Builts, you are paying for the service only when you need it, and not maintaining costly equipment and staff when you don't.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss your As-Built strategy or a particular project with an expert at PPM, pleaseContact Us. Thank you for reading!

Laser Scanning to Revit: As-Built Case Study

After 15 years in business, and over 13,000 As-Built surveys created, PPM finally took the plunge in February of this year and purchased our first laser scanner. Starting with the "good old days" of tape measure, paper, and pencil, we have tested and implemented several different technological advancements in As-Built surveying over the years: First it was the laser distance meter, which for about $500 literally changed the game for us ("You mean I don't have to pull this tape 120 feet to get that measurement?"). Then we started using the "COW" (Computer-On-Wheels) method where you skip the paper and instead bring your laptop with you on a rolling cart and create the As-Builts right there onsite. After that, there were several iterations of more advanced surveying systems based on tablet computers with Bluetooth connectivity to the laser meter - enabling a skilled user to draw linework and insert objects directly from the measurements taken. Each one of these and other innovations have enabled PPM to continue to provide the maximum value in the As-Built industry. Laser Scanning will enable us to take our service to a whole level.

After 8 months of research and testing various laser scanners, we decided to go with the Zeb Revo mobile laser scanner from GeoSLAM. The Zeb Revo takes 43,200 measurements per second, and generates a 3D point cloud that can be used in AutoCAD or REVIT to create traditional 2D As-Built drawings or 3D BIM models. The device is extremely accurate (1/2" tolerance even in large spaces) and since it is mobile it is incredibly efficient - you hold it in front of you as you walk through the space capturing the 3D data.

One of the 1st projects we scanned with our new toy was a 5,000 SF industrial building in Huntington Beach. There was a new tenant moving into the space, and our client was the architect in charge of the tenant improvements. He wanted a REVIT model of the existing conditions of the building, so we decided the laser scanner was the perfect tool for the job.

It took about 2 hours to scan the entire building: Interior, Exterior, and Roof. In addition to the scan, we always take some traditional measurements as a double-check to make sure the scan is accurate, and also to capture any data that the scanner might have missed due to obstructions in the way. When the scan was completed, we had a point cloud model that looked like this:

Building exterior including roof detail and parking lot (yeah it gets everything)

Next came the much more time-consuming part - turning this point cloud into a REVIT model. Our REVIT skills are rapidly improving but still not nearly where they could be, so it took us about 40 hours to model the building to the level of detail needed by our client. Here's a couple of those same perspectives in the finished REVIT model:

learning curve was steep on this project, but our team came together to ensure the As-Built project was completed accurately, on-time, and with all of the details that our client needed.

We still have a lot to learn and improve when it comes to laser scanning and BIM modeling, but we are committed to making it happen. In the last couple months we have been training all of our employee surveyors how to use the Zeb Revo for As-Built surveying, and we are now using the laser scanner for about 4-5 projects per week.

If you want to learn more about how PPM using the laser scanner for As-Built surveys, have any questions, or would like to discuss a potential project, please give us a call at 855-AS-BUILT, or use this link below to shoot us an email. Thanks!

As-Built Happenings - New Initiatives and New Bustas!

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is struggling to comprehend the fact that it's already March. I've tried to deny it but there it is, that little "3" in the front of the date field, staring at me in the bottom righthand corner of my screen. 2017 is whirring by so fast that I forgot to blog the last 5 weeks! I'm not a big science-fiction guy, but in this case I think it is definitely possible, if not probable, that I stumbled into some kind of a time-travelling wormhole in mid-January and just came out in early March.

Whether I remember how it happened or not, some exciting new things are going down at PPM that I wanted to share. In conjunction with 2 or our Goals for this year - As-Built Survey Technology Leadership, and Customer Communication (see: PPM's 2017 Resolutions) - we have hired 2 amazing new people (or "Bustas" as we call them at PPM - after our Core Value "We Bust") to help spearhead these efforts:

Greg Davies (Director of Survey Technology)

Greg became our 20th employee on the first day of 2017. We first worked with Greg way back in 2014 as an As-Built surveyor, and then as a project management consultant, most notably managing our 500 store Ferguson As-Built survey program in 2015. We hit it off so well we decided to make it official, hiring Greg on the first business day of 2017.

In Greg's new position he is leading our expansion into As-Built 3D scanning and BIM modeling. We just purchased our first laser scanner and we are already using it on live As-Built projects. Greg is developing our processes and infrastructure so that we can start offering 3D point clouds and REVIT models to any client that needs a BIM deliverable.

A little bit about Greg:

  • Was born and raised in Chicago, home of the best team in baseball - the White Sox.
  • Has ~15 years of experience providing As-Built surveys as well as developing technology solutions in the real estate industry.
  • Loves living and working in Long Beach. Extended his list of favorite outdoor activities of running and cycling to include skateboarding and snowboarding.
  • Running both the LA Marathon and Chicago Marathon this year.

"After getting to know the PPM team over the last couple of years, I was really excited to start up full time and become an official member of the family. The team here is committed to providing both the highest level of quality as well as having a good time while doing it. This is the kind of family you want to be a part of."

Luke Martindale (Business Development Consultant)

PPM started looking for our first sales/business development employee back in October. We planned an extensive recruiting process that took 12 weeks to attract and assess over 75 candidates for the position. We knew we wanted someone with great sales experience, and more importantly with the right personality and values to fit in with PPM. The search finally ended in mid-January when we made an offer to Luke.

Luke's job is to help PPM connect with more businesses that need As-Built services. We want to work closely with our clients as strategic partners, delivering the information they need for their remodeling programs both in Southern California and across the United States. We think we have a great value proposition for the AEC industry, and Luke will be helping us to communicate it.

A little bit about Luke:

  • He hails from the green PNW of Oregon.
  • Attended University of Oregon where he ran track and cross country. - GO DUCKS!
  • Worked for large corporations last 8 years selling B2B, most recently with Cintas.
  • Has lived in SoCal for 2 years now. Loves the outdoors, hiking, camping, snowboarding, and beers on the beach!

"I believe the sky is the limit here at PPM! The core values and the team members here are amazing. We are known as the best in the industry in California and soon we will be known as the best As-Built company in the United States. We have lofty goals and I'm stoked to see us hit them in the coming years!"

I am thrilled to have these 2 new talented and energetic Bustas joining our team - I feel like we hit back-to-back homeruns with these hires (sorry but the other thing that happens in March is the start of baseball season!) If you want to talk As-Built survey tech with Greg, or business development with Luke, give us a call.

Now back to work before April sneaks up on me when I'm not looking...

An ICONic Small Business Road Trip

We recently completed a major milestone at PPM, something that has alluded us for 15 years since our founding. No, I'm not talking about a revenue goal, or a signature project, or a critical new hire... those things are all great indeed but only this particular milestone could be described as "Epic". On April 24-27, PPM had our first ever ROAD TRIP!!!

For the last 3 years I have been attending ICON, a small business conference in Phoenix that is put on by a company called Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft makes an excellent small business CRM software that PPM has been using for about 4 years now - but in addition to that they also run various programs to share their considerable knowledge in the area of small business culture, organizational structure, growth strategies, and more. I have made some great connections and learned so much at ICON every time I go, and I have always returned with some big new ideas to implement at PPM - most notably the importance of establishing and committing to a set of Core Values in your business, a practice we undertook in 2015 after I heard an excellent talk from a former Human Resources boss at Southwest Airlines. Talk about a good source to be hearing about the importance of culture and values!

But prior to this year I had always attended ICON alone, leaving my coworkers back in Long Beach while I made my annual pilgrimage to the desert. This year, I took advantage of some ticket deals and decided to give more PPM'ers a chance to experience this event which I have benefitted so much from. I purchased 5 tickets, and I immediately set my mind to this question: What's the most fun way to travel 400 miles with a group of 5 people that you enjoy being with? From somewhere deep inside, I heard the 20 year-old me answer loud and clear... Road Trip! (not gonna lie - the cost saving might have played a minor part as well). To choose the team that would accompany me, I asked everyone that was interested to submit an application where they would say why they want to go, which sessions they were interested in and why, etc... We ended up with an A+ team: Cesar Luna, Alyson Buyuklian, Taylor Ferry, and Ai Mong De Leon.

I rented a minivan (oddly, Hertz didn't have any Volkswagen buses) and we left Long Beach at 6PM on Monday. The music was playing and the bass was pumping as we hit the I-10 freeway with Chipotle burritos in hand. The only other stop we made was a bathroom and provisions break at the Circle K in Blythe. Did you know that there is a Tapatio flavored Doritos now? I learned that in Blythe, and they are delicious. After 6 hours on the road, we pulled up to our rented house in Phoenix just after midnight, with the gas tank reading way past the slash after the "E". Living dangerously...

ICON Road Trippers, riding dirty in the minivan

The 3 days of the ICON conference were awesome. We all spread out to attend the topics we were most interested in hearing, and then met up a few times a day for lunch and the keynote speeches. We got to hear from some amazing people including Jillian Michaels, Marcus Lemonis, and Clate Mask the CEO of Infusionsoft. I could see the whole team getting inspired and motivated to bring back some new ideas to implement in PPM and in their own lives. We also took the opportunity to meet with a few new clients in the Phoenix area including Circle K and American Installations.

The Main Stage at ICON 2017

But more importantly, it gave all 5 of us a chance to spend some time together. In addition to all that quality time in the minivan, we went to a Diamondbacks baseball game, a nice dinner, and just hung out at the house in the evenings playing Apples to Apples and watching 1970s game shows on TV (our favorite - old school Family Feud where the host Richard Dawson kisses all the ladies). It was a special treat for me to get to hang out with these great people that I see almost every day at work. We are a closer team because of it.

Cheering for something at the D-Backs game

We drove home on Thursday afternoon after 3 long days and nights. The ride back wasn't quite as lively, as there was a significant amount of snoozing, but fortunately Sirius XM has a 90's station so that kept the mood upbeat (except of course when "Everybody Hurts" by REM came on. I had to pull over and get something out of my eye).


Springtime: Sunlight, Flowers, Baseball, and As-Built Survey Programs

A week ago today, March 20th, was the 1st day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Here in Long Beach where I live, we don't pay much attention to that because all of the seasons are pretty much the same. But in most of the U.S., I have to assume that the start of spring is a big deal - heck, some people are so anxious for winter to end that they are even willing to give credence to the idea of a clairvoyant groundhog. While we may not notice the change in weather here in sunny Southern California, at Precision Property Measurements we definitely DO notice the start of the retail renovation season.

The first sign of this change is the proliferation of trade shows focused on retail design, construction, and real estate this time of year. Starting on Tuesday of this week, the Globalshop conference kicks off Las Vegas. So the Oakland Raiders aren't the only ones coming to Vegas - Tawny Correa and Luke Martindale of PPM will be there too for this retail industry event which combines design, merchandising, fixture manufacturing & installation, and a wide variety of shopper-facing technology & marketing. Other trade shows either just passed or coming up soon this time of year for the retail design & construction industry include the SPECS conference (mid-March), AIA Convention (late April), and ICSC RECon (mid/late May).

Globalshop Conference - Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

These industry events take place during the Spring in order to fit the renovation cycle of the industry. Based on what we have noticed here at PPM with our As-Built store surveying programs, and from conversations we have had with our clients, it seems like the general timeline for retail store remodels is something like this:

  1. September - December: Planning & Budgeting
  2. January - March: RFPs to line up vendors
  3. March - July: As-Built surveys (from PPM, of course!)
  4. April - August: Design and final pre-construction prep
  5. July - October: Construction

Which brings me to the 2nd sign that Spring has arrived: over the last 6 weeks we have seen a big increase in the number of inquiries and RFPs we are getting to provide As-Built surveying for these programs, with many of them talking about launching in the next month. These clients need accurate floor plan drawings of their locations so that their design team can spec out the proposed changed to the store, and the installers can then get in and out as fast as possible with minimal downtime for the store. We are actively working with atleast a half dozen retail brands on the scope, scheduling, and pricing of their upcoming As-Built survey programs.

As much as we pride ourselves in being able to respond quickly and professionally to these inquiries, we constantly find ourselves wishing that we could have started talking to the client several months earlier. A large nationwide As-Built survey program, potentially involving as many as 50+ store locations per week, requires a lot of planning to get right (and at the right price). So the sooner that we can get involved in the process, the better outcome we can deliver for our clients.

Are you planning a "rebranding" or remodel program for your stores? We would love to talk to you about how PPM can help you streamline the process from beginning to end. Contact us to schedule an appointment with an As-Built surveying specialist. But first go outside and enjoy the warm weather first.

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