Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Laser Survey to Produce As-Built Plans

While all of our projects are special, a handful standout for one reason or another.

The Thomas Jefferson, a 20-story structure completed circa 1929, was once considered among the finest Southern hotels. After closing about 3 decades ago, this beautiful Florentine building sat empty. Through the efforts of many, we are now repurposing the space into 96 apartments, a cornerstone development for the west end of Birmingham’s CBD.

Scanner at TJReworking a historic building comes with a host of worthwhile challenges, not the least of which is the absence of as-built plans. We contracted with Schoel Consulting Engineers to perform a high definition laser survey for the decorative plaster ceilings, columns and walls on the first and second floors at the Thomas Jefferson. The results were stunning.

Schoel set up a laser scanner at more than 30 strategic points throughout the location, then scanned the walls and ceilings. The laser bounced back data, developing a “point cloud” of up to a million points per second. The intensity value or view is a reflection of the material and returns information back to a scanner. This rich data was then exported to CAD and merged to build a highly detailed reflected ceiling plan, which we will use to compile layouts for overhead lighting and fire sprinkler heads. Photometrics will be run on the real world locations so that we miss all of the historical plaster features that remain or need to be restored.

Using this system created a precise set of as-built plans, limiting the need for hand-measuring. It saved us time, money, and most importantly, it saved the intricate plaster work in this historic space. After using laser surveying, we are convinced that it is a good tool for recording as-builts of existing structures.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.