As-Built Services
1024 804 Andy McFarland

PPM’s As-Built Surveying Case Study #1: Seelbach Hotel, Louisville, KY

Welcome to the Seelbach!

The story of the Seelbach Hotel dates back to 1903. It began when the Seelbach brothers, who were recent immigrants from Bavaria, decided to open a luxury hotel in downtown Louisville that would capture all of the old-world elegance of the European hotels they had fallen in love with in their childhood. They decided on a Beaux-Arts Baroque style and imported materials from all over the world, including marble from Italy, bronze from France, table linens from Ireland, and exotic wood from the West Indies.

The hotel took a couple of years to construct but was an instant success, and as of today, remains one of Louisville’s greatest landmarks. Among the Seelbach’s famous guests were Al Capone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Robin Williams, and John F. Kennedy, along with at least 8 other U.S. presidents. Parts of the Paul Newman film The Hustler and the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby were filmed at the Seelbach, and the iconic wedding scene of Fitzgerald’s classic American novel that inspired the movie was set at a hotel conspicuously called the Mulbach.

Seelbach Hotel

Northeast entrance to the Seelbach Hotel. 4th Street and W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.

PPM’s Chapter in the Story of the Seelbach

Fast forward about 115 years, to late June of 2018 when Precision Property Measurements was contacted by John T. Campo & Associates, Inc., a full-service architecture and interior design firm based out of New Orleans, about helping them with a major renovation of the Seelbach. Campo Architects had recently been awarded the contract as lead consultant for the Seelbach renovation’s Concepting Phase and was looking to secure a reliable partner for an As-Built Survey of the hotel. They had previously worked with PPM through a Construction Manager on the Fairfield Inn & Suites Renovation in New Orleans, and found our services to be top-notch.

On smaller projects, Campo had sometimes done their own As-Builts or used a small local firm in New Orleans. But this project was different. The Seelbach hotel has 11 floors across 5 interconnected buildings, 321 guestrooms, 32,000 square feet of meeting space, and 2 subterranean levels. Campo wanted a pretty detailed scope of work including Floor Plans, Reflected Ceiling Plans, Electrical, and Exterior Elevations. For a project of this size, Campo needed an As-Built partner with a proven track record of success on large, highly-detailed projects.

In addition to PPM, Campo also contacted 2 other As-Built surveying companies for a proposal. The whole process took almost a month, and then in late July we got the call – PPM had landed the job! It was our expertise with hotel surveys, our detailed project timeline, and impressive reputation that encouraged Campo to hire us, and needless to say, we were beyond honored to help with the renovations of such an iconic Louisville building.

How we Completed the Seelbach As-Built Survey

For the Seelbach Hotel, we brought the same integrity and meticulousness that we bring to all of our projects – just to a larger scale. First, we made a detailed project plan and started communicating with the Hotel management immediately, to make sure everyone was on the same page. Campo wanted all of the As-Built drawings delivered by August 31st, so we laid out our project schedule to meet this deadline.

Our survey team took to the beautiful Seelbach Hotel in early August and began their work, using laser distance meters for all of our measurements to make sure we got the most precise results possible. We had 2 primary surveyors onsite for 4 weeks who oversaw the entire project and made sure our field crew was working up to the high standards we require. We also added 2 additional surveyors for a week near the end of the project, in order to make sure we were able to meet our promised delivery deadline.

90% of the AutoCAD drafting we did for the project was completed onsite using laptop computers, which allowed for instant verification of all measurements before moving on to the next area of the hotel. This attention to detail and patience with all of our drawings is so important to our customer’s peace of mind. By drawing on-site, we can double and triple check our plans with the room’s actual measurements. This means that the architect gets the most accurate drawing possible, and we don’t have to come back to the site to remeasure.

Finally, we captured over 7,000 photos of the Seelbach’s extensive layout, which was quite a lot of material but helped us deliver the high-quality product that Campo Architects was expecting. Before we sent the final As-Built drawings and photos on to our client, PPM’s quality assurance team reviewed all of the 7,000+ pictures and compared them to the drawings to make sure nothing was omitted or drawn incorrectly, and that all the CAD standards and scope details were included and represented accurately.

The Seelbach Lobby

The Seelbach Lobby

The Biggest Challenges We Faced

We’re no strangers to running into speed bumps during our As-Built surveying projects, and our work at the Seelbach was no different. One of the aspects of our business that we take the most pride in is our ability to troubleshoot the various challenges that arise during any given project, and all of our surveyors, project managers and drafters have been extensively trained in how to overcome these obstacles.

One of the major issues we experienced while surveying the Seelbach came from the highly unique layout of the hotel guestrooms.  Out of the 321 total guestrooms, there were over 100 different floor plans, which is the most, by far, that we’ve ever encountered. Most hotels only have a few different room types, and the floor plates stack from level to level. 100 different guestroom layouts meant that each room had to be thoroughly inspected and accurately measured to capture its unique layout. When you add in the highly ornate architectural details inherent to a historic building like the Seelbach, it all added up to a lot of custom work on the As-Builts.  To mitigate any potential delays, our team pulled 20 hour shifts and worked through the weekends to finish up as soon as possible.

Another challenge, common to any hotel or place of business, was the constant flow of guests and employees.  We take great pride in the abilities of our onsite team members to work with and around people who are living and working in the properties we measure. As you can imagine, the Seelbach is consistently busy, filled with hundreds or even thousands of guests and staff every single day. This required quite a lot of coordination between hotel management and our surveyors to make sure that we were completing our work in a way that was least intrusive to their guests and operations as possible. Developing a great working relationship with the Seelbach staff was the first step in accomplishing this, and our team really went out of their way to make sure that all of the hotel’s employees felt comfortable approaching them.  Not surprisingly for such a legendary hotel, the entire staff was incredibly friendly and helpful throughout the project.  Some of them even gave us a hug when we left for the last time.

Though we faced a few challenges in this project, I think that we handled them with a lot of professionalism, and above all, made sure that we were communicating any changes in plans with our client while finding the best way to work around these issues.

Exterior Seelbach Hotel

Exterior Elevation of the Seelbach Hotel along 4th St.

Getting Results for Our Clients

After over 650 hours of on-site surveying, drafting, quality assurance, and project management, we delivered the Seelbach As-Built survey project to Campo Architects.  Campo was extremely pleased with the professionalism, detail, and quality that PPM delivered.

Kerry Soniat, who is Campo’s Project Architect for the Seelbach, said, “Using PPM allowed Campo to manage our time efficiently and focus on more important design priorities for our client. We were impressed with the professionalism, timeliness and team efforts received from PPM. We look forward to working with PPM again in the future.”  It was extremely gratifying to receive this positive feedback after all of the hard work and dedication we put into the project.

Now, Campo is in the process of moving on to the next phase of the Seelbach project, which involves a detailed renovation plan for the guestrooms and common areas based off of PPM’s As-Built plans. These design and construction drawings will be much easier for Campo to generate with confidence because of our accurate and detailed As-Builts, and will be instrumental in helping write the Seelbach’s next historic chapter.

Epilogue: The Seelbach’s Chapter in PPM History

The life of an As-Built surveyor is a constant adventure!  OK maybe not always… but the interesting things we see and experience at a cool old building like the Seelbach is definitely one of the perks of the job.  Our time at the Seelbach Hotel left some indelible memories we will not soon forget.  Here’s a few of the most memorable highlights:

  • The Seelbach bar: The bourbon selection was pretty amazing and their signature “Lady in Blue” IPA, named after the ghost that haunts the 8th floor, was VERY tasty.
  • Larry, the concierge and hotel historian, was awesome.  He has tons of great stories about the hotel after 30 years working there. He has even written two books about the Seelbach – and we left with a signed copy of one of them.
  • One of our surveyors set off the fire alarm after one of the kitchen staff convinced him that the door was no longer armed.  That was fun.
  • The metal in the building interfered with the compass on our drone (which we use to take exterior photos), causing it to lose control and crash into the adjacent building.  Nothing better than having a crowd full of people watch you fly your drone as you discuss how “smart” it is with its sensors that won’t allow it to crash… #embarrassing

The Seelbach Hotel was one of the most extensive and unique projects we’ve completed, and it was such an honor to be part of a nation-wide team who were helping to restore one of the most historic hotels in the country.

And thanks, as always, for reading!

Seelbach Bar

The Seelbach Bar. A perfect place to relax after a long day of surveying.

900 600 Andy McFarland

PPM’s As-Built Surveying Case Study: Nationwide Quick Service Restaurant Chain

One Building or Five Hundred – PPM is Ready to Handle Your As-Built Surveying Needs

Our last case study took readers through the extensive process of Precision Property Measurements’ As-Built surveying work on the historic and iconic Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, KY. With this post, we thought we’d discuss another significant project that PPM was honored to be a part of recently —our year-long, almost 550 store, nationwide As-Built site surveying program for a well-known quick service restaurant chain.

The planning and resources required to complete a project of this magnitude are obviously different than when we work on a single store or location, but our attention to detail and desire to exceed our client’s expectations are still our #1 priority, no matter how many buildings we’re surveying.

So take a look and see what it’s like to go behind the scenes in PPM’s office and on our job site!

The Restaurant Searches for an As-Built Survey Partner and Finds PPM

We first heard from our new client in June of 2017. They were on the hunt for a reputable As-Built partner to capture all of the physical store information needed for some upcoming strategic initiatives.  A member of their vendor procurement team contacted our office to discuss their upcoming project and wanted to see if PPM would be a good fit for their site surveying needs. I personally spoke with several members of their internal architecture and construction teams over the next month and learned as much as I could about their most important requirements for this project.

The company needed accurate As-Built plans of all of their restaurants for 2 primary initiatives:

(1) They were looking to remodel their kitchens in order to expand capacity for preparing carryout and catering orders. As part of this initiative, an update to the area used for their digital ordering system was also required.

(2) The client wanted a comprehensive update of their physical store information for facilities management and other future store planning projects.

Upon learning how they intended to use the information collected on the site surveys, we worked with the client to develop a detailed Scope of Work for the As-Built surveying program. The architectural As-Builts included a detailed Floor Plan with Kitchen Layout, Reflected Ceiling Plan, Roof Plan, and Electrical Plan. They wanted us to provide them with an electrical line diagram as well, which included tracing and mapping of their panel schedule to show the connections between each individual outlet to the corresponding circuit on the panel. For photography, we agreed to provide both still photos as well as a 360-degree “Virtual Walkthrough” of each location using the Matterport platform.

About 6 weeks into these discussions, our client was gaining confidence in PPM’s capabilities and decided to test us with an initial batch of 33 locations in California, Colorado, and Texas. They wanted the surveys completed in 10 weeks, between August and October of 2017, so we developed a schedule to meet this deadline while also allowing for several rounds of feedback on the Deliverables to make sure the final product was exactly what our client needed.

The company was very impressed with our ability to deliver on schedule, as well as our service, communication, and incredibly precise As-Built drawings. After further internal planning through the end of the year, they awarded us 334 locations in January of 2018, and we were off to work.

PPM Continental Clients Map

PPM ended up surveying 542 locations for the client, all over the U.S.

Breaking Down Our Process for a High Volume, Nationwide As-Built Survey Program

Our first order of business was to create a program schedule. We were provided the list of 334 locations all over the country and a deadline of June 15th to deliver all of the surveys. With a few weeks of time to ramp up, this meant we would need to average about 20 completed surveys per week. To complicate the logistics a bit more, the client had different deadlines within these 4 months for each of the 6 geographic regions in which the stores were located.  The client allowed us to determine the specific order and schedule to meet the deadlines, which was extremely helpful as it enabled us to group the surveys together by location and proximity, allowing for more efficient travel and the flexibility to work with each surveyor on a schedule that best fit their availability.

Second, we had to get the resources in place to handle that kind of volume for a sustained period of time. This required additional field surveyors, drafters, QA staff, and dedicated project management. Our team quickly determined what would be needed, and then we started hiring and training new people right away.  Over the course of the program, there would be as many as 50 different people that worked on the surveys in one capacity or another.  In additional to human resources, we also had to make sure that we had the specialized equipment needed to perform the survey at every location, including surveying tools, Matterport cameras, and electrical testing gear.

Finally, we had to develop a scalable and repeatable process that would consistently deliver a high-quality As-Built product that met the client’s exact specifications for every location. We had already worked out most of the process in the pilot round of 33 locations, but now with a higher overall volume and weekly output, we had to tighten things up even more.

For faster and more detailed data collection, we used a 3D laser scanner on approximately half of the locations, and the resulting “point cloud” data that we captured was converted into highly accurate As-Built plans by our CAD teams.  For the other half of the restaurants, our professional survey crews used laser distance meters and laptop computers onsite to capture, record, and draw the As-Builts.

Prior to delivery to the client, every single plan was extensively reviewed by our QA team here in Long Beach by comparing each plan to the digital photography to make sure nothing was missing or drawn inaccurately. The final step was to place the drawings into the client’s CAD template and make sure we met all of their specific standards and preferences.

All of this planning and teamwork paid off, and we were able to deliver all 334 surveys before the required deadlines.  Our client rewarded our strong performance by giving us another batch of 175 locations in early July. This batch came with a September 28th deadline, which meant that we would once again need to maintain a delivery pace of about 17 locations per week. We streamlined a few more parts of the process including field scheduling and QA, and we once again delivered all of the surveys on-time and to the client’s exact standards.

Jan-Sep As Built Survey Graph

PPM reached a peak of over 100 surveys a month for this program

Challenges are an Opportunity to Provide Great Service

Even a single As-Built survey can run into unexpected challenges. When you’re surveying 500+ locations, you better be prepared for a few surprises, changes, and other potential obstacles. When these challenges arise, it’s a great opportunity to see if your partners are up to the task.  At PPM, we approach every challenge as an opportunity to show how committed we are to helping our clients achieve their goals.

The first challenge, which was not necessarily unexpected, was the program timeline.  We didn’t know how many locations we would receive and what the deadline would be until the day it arrived in my email. Then it was our job to make it happen!  The timeline was so important to our client that we wanted to be 100% certain we would be able to meet every single deadline.  This commitment to timeliness was so critical that it actually caused us to make the difficult decision to turn down an additional 30 locations in the final batch.  When we crunched the numbers we realized that we just couldn’t make it work within the deadline, so we stuck with 175.  Our client was very pleased that we were honest about our capabilities and didn’t over-promise.

This program required that we meet a consistently high pace, often approaching 20-25 deliveries per week, with a highly detailed, labor-intensive scope of work. Because we didn’t want the process to come down to the wire, we front-loaded the schedule with field surveys, which allowed more time for our quality assurance team to inspect everything and make any necessary revisions before it was too late.

The additional staffing that the program required, both employees and vendors, was also a major challenge. The more people that you have working on a project, the more coordination is required to make sure that everyone is on track and working together efficiently. Because of this, we created custom project management tools to make sure the status of every location was tracked, work segments were clearly assigned, and that the client was always updated with the survey status of each location.

Another challenge was working in the restaurant environment. Our client’s stores got really busy around 11:30 AM and stayed busy for most of the day. Because of this, we had to complete the surveys before business hours, meaning we would typically start around 3 or 4 AM so that we wouldn’t interfere with their customer service and could finish up with most of the interior work before the doors opened.

No matter if it’s a single location or several hundred, we always make sure that communication with our partners, as well as our client, is a major priority. This, along with working around our customer’s schedule, were opportunities for us to provide top-notch service, and this program was a definite success in that regard.

PPM Team

The PPM team reviews an As-Built survey prior to delivery to the client.

Results for Our Client are Our #1 Priority

PPM is incredibly proud to have been a part of this strategic initiative for our client.  By delivering all As-Built surveys on-time and with the exact information required, we were able to help them keep their kitchen remodel program right on track.

We did such a good job, in fact, that the Director of Architecture of the company shared these words about PPM’s performance: “Thank you for your continued commitment to excellence in delivering accurate and complete data. I appreciate your honesty and your desire to not compromise your company’s integrity. We are thankful for you and your team’s continued diligence as we complete this very important project.”

That’s excellent feedback for all of our hard work and dedication on this project!

Planning a Remodel or Expansion?  PPM Can Help You Too

I hope you enjoyed another one of our case studies where we give readers a behind the scenes peek at what we do here at Precision Property Measurements. Our As-Built surveying job for this nationwide quick service restaurant chain was quite an intensive program, but our team met every challenge with the professionalism and high-quality service that we expect here at PPM. If you think your company can benefit from this kind of service, I’d love to speak with you about your needs.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

PPM's Top 5 Cutting-Edge Home Design Trends for 2019
600 400 Andy McFarland

PPM’s Top 5 Cutting-Edge Home Design Trends for 2019

What Does an As-Built Surveying Company Know about Home Design?

For most of Precision Property Measurement’s history, we’ve been working hard to help our clients design and build the home of their dreams. My team and I have worked with countless architects and homeowners to deliver them accurate and reliable As-Built surveying information they can rely on for their remodel. Because many of us at PPM got our start in architecture or design fields, we like to keep ourselves acquainted with the latest home design and remodeling trends. We want to be sure that whenever you hire us to be a part of your team, we’re up-to-date on how our expertise can best aid your project.

So, for this week’s blog post, we looked at the most current and intriguing home design styles we could find and compiled a list of 5 trends for 2019. Whether you’re looking to spruce up your home with a few high-impact updates, or are finally ready to tear it all out and start creating your forever home, take a look at these innovative design ideas that are sure to stay fashionable and inviting for decades to come.

1. Steel-Framed Windows

Probably the most iconic example of steel-framed windows is Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Fallingwater (pictured below) in Mill Run, PA, which was designed in 1935. And it’s no surprise that this style is coming back into vogue. Wright’s concept of organic architecture seems perfectly tailored for the 21st century, a time when so many people are interested in a getting-back-to-nature approach to their home designs and lifestyles.

Steel windows are slim-lined, incredibly sturdy, low maintenance, and they work with a number of styles. For instance, you could have outward-swinging, inward-swinging, casement, awning, and many other variations to fit your needs. If you have a drab, solid partition that is making your home seem closed off, consider a steel-framed wall with glass door to free up some space. Large panes with thin frameworks are a classic look that will brighten up any home.

Also, your remodel doesn’t have to be nearly as hard as it was for Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1934, when he decided to remodel the Kauffman’s summer house over a waterfall on Bear Run (what would later become Fallingwater), he had to hire a survey team who probably took about ten times as long as it would today to get him the pertinent As-Built information. In 2018, PPM can complete your survey in an hour or 2 and have your deliverable back to you in around a week.

Not to say we’re better than Frank Lloyd Wright or his team. That, of course, would be blasphemous for architect lovers like us.  He just didn’t have access to 3D laser scanners and CAD software like we do today.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

Photo credit: wallyg on VisualHunt.com

2.  Darker Cabinet Colors

Don’t be afraid of adding some darker colors to your kitchen cabinet palette. You might be thinking that dark = drab or way-too-serious, but the truth is that darker cabinets can add a lot of depth and calmness to your kitchen. If light colors are meant to invigorate, darker colors are meant to provide you with a serene peace-of-mind that you just can’t get from bright blues or yellows.

Black and gray are generally the go-to if you’re looking for traditional dark colors, and they do add a modern, sophisticated look to most kitchens, but consider dark greens, reds, or browns if you want something a little less conventional.

Just remember, when using darker colors, make sure you have some accents that add some contrasting color to your kitchen. Monochromatic dark colors can be extremely disinviting and gothic-looking, so find a brighter color that will compliment your cabinets and use it sparingly.

Trust us, there’s no more important room in your house to have the most precise As-Built measurements than your kitchen. If you’re looking for stylish, custom cabinets, you want to be absolutely sure they fit perfectly into your space. Our laser scanners measure down to 1/8” or even smaller, so you can be 100% confident in what you are working with.

Modern kitchen with dark cabinet colors

Photo credit: designmilk on VisualHunt.com

3.  Stylish Convertible Accommodations

Convertible and multipurpose pieces are very trendy right now and it’s no wonder. Everyone is looking for ways to make their house feel more open and comfortable and many of us don’t have a ton of space to work with. Consider investing in a stylish Murphy bed, collapsible furniture that can be stowed away, or walls and partitions that can be reconfigured to dramatically change your house’s shape.

This trend is all about practicality and ingenious design that’ll make your house into more than just a staid and rigid environment. With these functional accouterments, you can be active and engaged with your surroundings like never before.

We’re a born and bred Southern California company, so we understand how important (and expensive!) every square inch of your house is.  There’s a reason hundreds of architects choose PPM as their As-Built partner.  No matter how much square-footage you have, we can get you the information you need to maximize your space.

Check out the video below from faircompanies.com to get some ideas about convertible furniture!

Video of convertible furniture to give readers some interesting ideas.

YouTube video with some amazing convertible furniture.

4. Terrazzo Floors & Walls

Maybe one of the more controversial design trends of 2019 is terrazzo floors and walls. Some experts say they’ve run their course, others say they’re just getting going. We think they still look pretty amazing, so we decided to include them on this list. Terrazzo is a pattern, popular in the 1950s, that is created by pressing stone chips into concrete. This gives the floor or wall a lively, textured look that can be created in any number of colors.

These days, terrazzo is everywhere. You can buy terrazzo handbags, dishes, pillows, rugs. The design has become so popular that it’s transcended its original use. Regardless, its popularity has always relied on the fact that terrazzo can either compliment an organic, natural look, which would be perfect for both the steel-framed windows and darker cabinets we mentioned before, or you can seek out brighter colors that have a more playful vibe perfect for a kid’s room or a light-filled bathroom.

If you’re looking to remodel your walls or floors, our precision As-Built surveys will help you and your architect figure out exactly how your design ideas will best fit your layout. If you have a large or non-traditional floor plan, don’t worry. We can complete your As-Built plans without you ever having to lift a finger.

Nicely constructed and polished terrazzo floor.

Photo credit: Phillip Pessar on VisualHunt.com

5. Rustic Brass Fixtures

Back in the day, around the mid-90s, to be precise, brass was a popular material for faucets, knobs, frames, etc. And it’s come back into style over the last couple of years, but not in exactly the same way. 90’s brass was much shinier than the variety used today. Just like the steel windows and more organic-looking terrazzo floors, the brass that’s all the rage these days is warmer and antique-looking. It’s not made to stand-out, but to have an old-world charm that compliments pretty much any décor. Also, if you’re thinking of going with darker cabinets, just imagine what a great contrast brass would make against a black or dark green color palette.

Remember, our As-Built surveys include the locations of all your plumbing fixtures so your architect or interior designer can get an incredibly accurate idea of what they’ll need for your remodel. Our technology along with our meticulously detailed drafting will save you tons of time and headaches!

Hip, rustic brass faucet.

willstone on Visualhunt.com

Best of Luck on Your Project – We’d Love to Help!

As we get closer to another New Year, PPM is super excited to work with you on any home remodeling projects that you are ready to start. And remember, our #1 priority is working with your architect or designer to fulfill their and your vision as best we can. This means that we’re consistently keeping our ears to the ground to discover the newest and most unique design trends in the business. It’s this commitment to our customers’ satisfaction that inspires us to be the best As-Built surveying company we can be.  Our purpose is to help you achieve a “Worry Free Renovation”.

So, thanks for keeping us on our toes and thank you, as always, for reading!

710 408 Andy McFarland

4 Ways 3D Laser Scanning Is Changing Your As-Built Customer Experience

3D Laser As-Built Surveying in the Information Age

At Precision Property Measurements, we get it. You’re busy, you’re under a deadline, you need the most accurate As-Built survey possible, and you want it to be completely Worry Free. Believe us. We’ve been in the business for over 16 years now and we understand what you need from us, whether you’re starting a home remodel, moving your business to a new location, or renovating the guest rooms at a large hotel.

It’s this understanding of our customers’ needs that has been one of the primary catalysts for the adoption of 3D laser scanning into our As-Built surveying process. As mentioned in my post last week, for the first 14 years of PPM, we did everything manually with tape measures, laser distance meters, sketching boards, and good old-fashioned problem solving. But within the last couple of years, as this technology has developed, we decided that laser scanning is the best way to enhance your As-Built surveying customer experience. In our last post, we discussed how laser scanning has changed the financials of our company, so this week we decided to discuss how these impressive little gadgets are helping us help you.

1. Do You Really Want Us in Your House All Day?

3D laser scanners have dramatically reduced the amount of time that our surveyors need at the job site to capture all the necessary As-Built information. Take the example of a typical 2,500 square foot single family home – the type of project we survey just about every day at PPM. It used to take one of our surveyors around 5-7 hours to gather all the measurements and information we needed for this type of project. That’s an entire day of us at you or your client’s place, measuring every inch of the building. If you’ve ever had workers inside your house for an entire day, you know that this can be somewhat obtrusive and often requires you to plan your entire day around the worker’s schedule.

Now, with 3D laser scanning, we’ve cut our time in the field dramatically. A project that used to take us about 7 hours in the field only a couple of years ago, today takes maybe 1 to 2 hours using a laser scanner. This means that we can get in, get what we need, and get out before you or your client even figures out what they are having for lunch. You can get on with your busy schedule, or just relax in your house without a stranger hanging out all day.

Although, I do think we make pretty decent house guests.

 

3d-scanning-technician-at-work

On location with one of our 3D scanning specialists. Our laser scanners work well in both small and large spaces.

2. Millions of Data Points = We Can Accommodate Any Request

Another big advantage of using a 3D laser scanner for As-Built surveying is the amount of information that is gathered. Before laser scanners, we had to pick and choose the measurements we would take and the information we could capture based on the scope of work requested by our client. If our client wanted an As-Built floor plan and reflected ceiling plan (RCP), we would only gather enough data to complete these 2 plan types. Now with the laser scanner we can digitally capture everything visible in your house or building with incredible precision. This means we know where every wall, window, door, ceiling beam, light fixture, cabinet, and piece of furniture is located in the building.

This information gathered from your property by the 3D laser scanner contains millions of data points that we use to create your finished As-Built deliverables. The big advantage for our customers in capturing all this data is the flexibility that it provides if more information is needed. For example, what if our customer decided after the field visit that in addition to the floor plan and RCP, they need some interior elevations and a section drawing? Previously we would have had to return to the building to take additional measurements – requiring additional time to schedule a second field visit, and an additional inconvenience to the property owner. With laser scanners, we already have all of the data we need to create these additional As-Built plans, so we are able to accommodate these change order requests quickly and keep the project moving.

It’s what we do best!

 

Roof Top View By 3D Scanner

Our 3D Laser Scanning team can produce As-Built surveys of a variety of different building types.

3. Complicated Structures are Now a Breeze

It’s hard to overstate how much more precise our AutoCAD and Revit deliverables are now that we use 3D laser scanners. We have always been extremely accurate, recording individual measurements to the fraction of an inch and employing multiple redundancies and other As-Built best practices to ensure a quality product. But, to be honest with you, there’s just no equating what can be done with tape measures and simple electronic measuring tools compared to what we can do with 3D laser scanners.

No matter how many measurements we took back in the good old days, we simply couldn’t have collected as much information about your building as a laser scanner can. For a simple building with basic geometry it might not make too much of a difference. But for larger structures and more complex architecture such as curved walls, vaulted or arched ceilings, and non-standard angles, laser scanners provide a whole new level of precision and detail. This increase in total accuracy becomes even more critical when we are creating a comprehensive 3D BIM model from the data captured in the field. This benefit to our customer is yet another reason why we’ve decided to adopt this technology with so much passion.

 

Happy-customer-shaking-hands-with-PPM-surveyor

At PPM, we take great pride in making sure that our customers are comfortable and satisfied with all phases of our service. With the faster location time afforded by 3D Laser scans, our customers are even happier.

4. You Tell Us What You Want and We’ll Deliver

If I haven’t made it abundantly clear already, 3D laser scanning allows us more flexibility to tailor our deliverable to your needs. Because we have so much data gathered for your As-Built survey and because this information is accurate, complete, digital, and portable – we have a wide variety of options for our clients when it comes to the As-Built information we provide.

The 3D “point clouds” generated by a laser scanner can be worked with either in 2D or 3D. Our 2D AutoCAD drawings and 3D Revit models can be created exactly to your specifications and are always designed with your project’s best interest in mind. This means that our customer service and project management outreach is more important than ever. We have a dedicated staff whose primary purpose is to find out exactly what you require, and then create a deliverable that will make your job infinitely easier. Another new option is to deliver the raw data (the point cloud) directly. For those that know how to work with it, the point cloud is an extremely detailed “digital twin” of the building, and can be delivered as soon as the day after the field work.

 

3D Laser Scanners – Good for Us and Great for You!

So, as you can see, 3D laser scanning had really improved the As-Built customer experience in many different ways here at PPM. We are beyond excited to see how this technology will continue to revolutionize our business and provide you with the best As-Built service possible.

Now that you know how 3D laser scanning can improve your customer experience for your remodel projects, I hope you’re as excited about these new developments as we are.

Thanks for reading!

Street Perspective Of Home 3D Laser As-Built Scanner
576 308 Andy McFarland

How I Finally Learned to Drop the Tape Measure and Embrace the 3D Laser Scanner

How 3D Laser Scanning is Changing The Financials Of As-Built Surveying

For the first 14 years of Precision Property Measurements, it was just a few trusty surveyors and me waking up at 5 AM, Monday through Friday, hopping on the freeway to beat the LA morning traffic, and breaking out our handy measuring tapes, pencils, and paper to collect our clients’ As-Built property measurements. Our “high-tech” equipment was a laser distance meter, but even that high-precision tool can only take 1 measurement at a time. In some ways, I remember those days fondly. It was much more of a physically demanding process back then, and there was something gratifying about coming home each day having put in a number of hours dangling from ladders or scraping through crawl spaces.

If I had the choice, would I go back to those early days?

Probably not, but there’s nothing wrong with reminiscing. Though we do hand measure our clients’ properties from time to time depending on size and scope, over the last 2 years 3D laser scanners have revolutionized the way we do business, both in the field, in the office, and financially.

With that being said, over a series of posts, I’d like to explain how different PPM is today now that we have made a big push into this amazing, revolutionary technology. This first post will be about how 3D laser scanners have transformed the financial dynamics of what we do best: delivering accurate, high-quality As-Built surveys to our clients.

So, if you’d like a behind-the-scenes peak into how one of the top As-Built surveying companies in the country is changing due to this innovation, then please read on.

3D Laser As-Built Survey Showing Hi Angle View

A 3D laser scan can present unique perspectives for architects.

First Things First—What the Heck is 3D Laser Scanning?

MacBooks are to parchment and quill as 3D laser scanners are to tape measures. What I mean is they’re almost not even in the same universe.

To keep it simple, 3D laser scanners shoot… well, lasers in all directions, and whatever the lasers hit gets recorded as a 3-dimensional point for us to decipher later. The laser scanners we use shoot tens of thousands of points per second! So even a small building will generate many millions of data points in very little time. The resulting file containing all of these 3D points is called a Point Cloud file. The next step for us then is to take that point cloud, and through a series of different processes and software applications, create a usable deliverable for our client: Typically, a 2D AutoCAD drawing or a 3D Revit model.

These days, working with point clouds is what we spend quite a bit of our time doing here at PPM. Whereas a couple of years ago, we were creating accurate As-Built plans based on our hand-draw sketches containing individual measurements, now we are working with this incredibly accurate digital point cloud data. The challenge for us is that the point cloud contains everything that the lasers hit – wall decorations, furniture, coffee cups, pets… just look around you right now and you’ll get an idea for everything that can be contained in a point cloud. Our job is to focus on providing only what’s important for our client.

As you can imagine, this dramatic change in our process has been quite an adjustment in how we deal with dollars and cents here at PPM, so, next, I’d like to tell you about the 2 major ways that 3D laser scanning has changed the financials of our company.

Roof Top View By 3D Scanner

3D As-Built scans can provide extremely useful views that previously were difficult to obtain.

“Looks like we’re going to need a bigger equipment budget.”

When I started with PPM back in 2002, it cost about $5,000 to outfit my workers or myself with all of the tools we needed to start on a client’s project. This provided us with the field equipment, which was pretty minimal back then, plus the computer and software we needed in the office to create the finished CAD product.

Now, since the 3D laser scanner came around, we’ve seen quite an uptick in how much overhead we need for our field and office operations.

First, the 3D laser scanners—there are many different units on the market so the price will vary, but the 3D laser scanners that we use cost about $50,000 a piece. That’s right, this single tool is 10x more expensive than our entire kit cost only a couple of years ago.

Second, we need a much more sophisticated and high-powered computer and networking system than what we used back in the good old days, in order to handle all that point cloud data. So, over the past couple of years, we’ve replaced all of our production computers with high-end models, bought new servers and networking equipment, dramatically increased our local and cloud data storage capacity, and we are about to significant upgrade our internet speeds so that we can quickly transfer data to and from our regional offices, field survey crews, and clients.

You might be wondering how we can afford to make these investments without any increases in the rates we charge our clients. Good question. Well, there are more than a few cost advantages of using 3D laser scanners for As-Built surveying, as you’ll see in the next section of this post.

3D-Laser-Scan-House-Roof-Exterior

Architects are enthusiastic about the exterior configurations of homes that are scanned and surveyed with the highest accuracy by 3D laser scanners.

Less Time on Site = Less Time in LA Traffic!

With the adoption and integration of 3D laser scanning into our processes, our productivity has increased dramatically. First off, we save a ton of time in the field. A couple of years ago, to survey a typical Single-Family house, we would have needed 5-7 hours at the site – a full day’s worth of work including travel. Our day in the field used to consist of sketching, measuring, maybe using a laptop to draw on site, and although we were great at it, the process was pretty tedious. Also, because we’re located here in Southern California, we would start at the crack of dawn so we could be done by early afternoon and not have to suffer through endless gridlock.

Now, using a 3D laser scanner, that same house would take maybe 1 to 2 hours in the field – making our time in the field about a quarter of what it used to be. For larger projects which used to take multiple days, this reduction in field time can also save a lot money in travel, as we now only need one trip to the project instead of 2 or 3. It also makes out-of-state projects more financially feasible, since we can save money on hotels, rental cars, and per diem due to our much quicker surveying process.

The other part of the As-Built process, the office work, has not yet seen any significant gains in efficiency, but things are trending in that direction. Currently, it still takes us about the same amount of time as it used to, to take the field data and draft it into AutoCAD or Revit. But we think that over time, as we get better and better at working with point clouds, and new software comes along that help automate different parts of the process, we will see similar gains in our productivity on the backend.

Because of this shift in the process, PPM is working to revamp our labor force. Everyone is learning new skills, and our hiring plan has changed dramatically. Whereas previously the general ratio was one office worker for each field surveyor, now the field work is so efficient that we need 4 to 5 drafters for every surveyor. Just another change like so many others that is brought about by the transformation of our business with 3D laser scanners.

Now, you may be asking yourself…

Point Cloud 3D Laser Scan

The beauty of the point cloud scan rendering is in the details, as well as the colors.

Why Do We Love 3D Laser Scanners So Much?

The answer is simple: We want to deliver the best and most accurate products as we can to our clients, and 3D laser scanners are the perfect way to accomplish this for the foreseeable future. Though overhead costs have increased, and we have to remake our labor force, there have been just as many positive aspects of switching to 3D laser scanning.

For instance, in order to accommodate all of the additional drafters we need to work with point clouds, we’re opening a new office in Salt Lake City, which we are calling our “CAD Command Center”. This move has upped our profile on a national level and will set us up to achieve our Mission of opening at least 8 new Regional Offices by 2025. It will also increase my opportunities to go skiing once winter rolls around.

But beyond all of the financial ups and downs that this new technology has caused us, it’s our commitment to our craft and our clients that informed our decision to adopt such a business-exploding piece of equipment.

At PPM, we’re looking forward to the future and all of the technological developments that will bring our business into the forefront of the 21st century. To us, there’s no improvement without innovation, and we’re glad that we’re placed firmly on the cutting edge of what is sure to be a revolution in the As-Built survey business.

Thanks for reading!

The PPM staff at the company picnic.
576 384 Andy McFarland

PPM Loves Super Hero Company Picnics

4 Tips For Making Your Company Picnic A Memorable, Team-Building Experience

On Saturday, July 21, the team here at Precision Property Measurements took to Whaley Park in our hometown of Long Beach, CA to have our fourth annual memorable, team-building company picnic experience. We were lucky enough to get a beautiful Southern California day and our employees, along with their families, were ready to have an afternoon full of teamwork-inspired activities and delicious eats.

At four years strong, our company picnic is one of the highlights of our year and planning it is no small feat. We start months in advance, taking volunteers from the staff, who are given various duties, and we have meetings throughout the spring and summer to see how the event is progressing. The picnic always takes place on the day after our quarterly company staff meeting in July, which is a nice way to celebrate all of the success we’ve had over the year so far, and also makes it easier to invite the staff from PPM’s Bay Area and Salt Lake City offices to come down and attend both events.

Why do we work so hard for a single day? The answer is simple.

Though our company picnics are a blast, they’re so much more than just an excuse to get out of the office. This is a time for our employees and management to get to know each other outside of the workplace and come together as a team in an enjoyable and low-stakes environment. (See our Core Values page for more.) For us, events like this are so important to creating the kind of engaged, professional and fun atmosphere we want at PPM.

So, with almost half a decade of company picnic experience under our belts, we thought we’d share our most successful tips for planning your own company picnic.

 

Our kickball game at Whaley Park.

Alyson squares up a kick for the Scanvengers at PPM’s kickball game at Whaley Park, Long Beach.

1. Kick Things off with a Competitive Event

Our picnic was superhero themed this year, which we think is a great way to make things more fun for everyone. This meant that some of the employees’ children dressed up as their favorite superheroes, and our kickball teams were named the Bustas League and the Scanvengers – PPM’s twists on the Justice League and the Avengers.

We tried to make the teams as evenly matched as possible based on our employees’ athletic abilities. It seemed like we did a good job because the game was pretty tight until the bottom of the fourth and the final inning when the Scanvengers came from behind with three clutch runs, clinching the title (and the championship medals!) until next year.

If you’re not a kickball fan, try capture the flag, tug of war, whiffle ball, badminton, or whatever you think will help encourage teamwork and a competitive spirit.

 

Great tacos at the PPM Company Picnic

Delicious tacos with all the fixin’s from Borracho’s Tacos. Yum!

2. Make Sure You Have Some Seriously Delicious Food

At PPM we love to eat, and yes, it is amazing that we’re able to keep our stunning physiques with such insatiable appetites. Our advice is to find a local restaurant or food truck that people in your office love and get them to cater your event. We chose Borracho’s Tacos, a taco truck in the area that pretty much everyone in the office knows and craves on a weekly basis.

The biggest tip we can give you for planning the food is to make sure you find out your guest’s allergies and other food restrictions ahead of time and have a variety of options available. For instance, we had delicious steak and shrimp tacos, but also vegetarian and gluten-free options for members of our team who had dietary restrictions.

Remember, this day is all about teamwork, so you want everyone to feel welcome at your company picnic. Catering to your employees’ gustatory needs is an important part of making everyone feel like they belong.

 

Wheel barrow race at PPM company picnic

Taylor (in costume) and Colin surge ahead during the wheelbarrow portion of the relay race.

3. Plan Fun Activities Throughout the Day

Kickball wasn’t the end to our fun and games at Whaley Park. After more than a few tacos and refreshments, we organized a relay obstacle course and a trivia game. One interesting idea we had this time around was to make the trivia game centered around the company’s history and office anecdotes. This not only reminds employees about the company’s progress over the years but also lets them know that they’re a part of a culture that has its own particular stories and characters.

The relay obstacle course was maybe the highlight of the whole day and this was because we planned a number of activities that were fun but would also test our employees’ teamwork abilities. They faced a gauntlet of obstacles, including a potato sack, three-legged, and wheelbarrow race, along with a watermelon eating contest for the final station.

Whoever was brave enough to take on the watermelon portion of the relay had to eat a whole one-quarter of a watermelon with no hands. A bit of a scandal broke out this year when the “winning” team was caught using their hands to finish off their hunk of melon, but it was all in good fun and actually brought even more excitement to an already electrifying event.

 

A little superhero having fun with water balloons.

The Super Hero kids had a great time with the water balloons.

4. Cultivate a Family Atmosphere

Probably the most gratifying aspect of our company picnic is meeting our employees’ families in a relaxed and non-businesslike atmosphere. For our newer employees, we finally get to meet the son or daughter they’ve been talking about all year, and for our long-time personnel, we have the pleasure of seeing how fast their kids have grown since the last time we saw them.

We care so much about making our company picnic a family affair that, this year, we got a piñata, ball pit, and organized a bunch of kids’ games to keep the little ones engaged. We even encouraged a big water balloon fight, which ended, of course, with the parents joining forces against the kids.

In case you were wondering, the parents were sorely beaten.

The Wrap Up

So those are our 4 tips for organizing your company picnic. Remember, this event is one of the best places for you to get to know your employees, and remind them how much their hard work means to you. Believe us, everyone will return to the office on Monday with a new-found sense of teamwork and appreciation for their colleagues.

Get planning!

 

576 313 Andy McFarland

Accurate As-Built Plans Make A Big Difference

Accurate As-Built Plans Make A Huge Difference In Your Renovation Project

“I Found These Existing As-Built Drawings. They Look Pretty Accurate… I think.”

 

Here at Precision Property Measurements, most of our clients are architects, designers and facility managers that are in charge of planning and executing building remodel projects. For every new project, whether it is for one building or hundreds of locations, one of the first decisions they need to make is what to do about As-Built drawings. Accurate As-Built Plans are essential for any renovation project. Often there are no existing plans to start with, and so it is an easy decision to create new accurate As-Built drawings either by measuring the building themselves, or by hiring a professional As-Built surveying company like PPM.

“What happens if I am using existing As-Built plans that are not accurate?”

Other times, our clients are able to find some existing plans – typically either the original design drawings from the architect, or a more recent set created by a contractor or other consultant who did some work on the building at some point. When this situation occurs, a choice needs to be made: Take a chance on using the existing drawings? Or re-survey and make sure the As-Builts are 100% accurate?

“Can You Just Check These As-Built Plans And Fix Any Errors?”

When a new client contacts PPM for an As-Built survey, we often get asked if we can use all or a portion of the existing drawings that they have to start with. Naturally, the assumption is that these existing drawings will save us time, and therefore save the client money. Unfortunately, the reality is that more often than not, existing As-Built drawings will cause more problems than they solve. In the last 16 years, we have field-checked hundreds of existing As-Built plans to verify accuracy, with a wide variety of results. Sometimes, the plans are structurally sound, with only minor dimensional errors to adjust and missing elements to add. More commonly, the existing drawings are so problematic that they are worthless as the basis for quality As-Built surveys, and so we need to scrap them and start from scratch. The challenge is that even significant errors of several inches usually can’t be identified until you actually take the measurement in the field. One error leads to another, the mistakes on the existing plan start to snowball, and before you know it you’re doing just as much work as you would have done if you had just started from scratch – only with significantly more of a hassle. Whenever we run across one of these, I can only wonder how often existing plans are assumed to be “good enough” and used without being verified, and what kind of problems this creates. All of this just to save on As-Builts that are usually less than 2% of the cost of the project. I have rarely seen this gamble pay off.

Do it right the first time with a fresh, accurate As-Built survey.

Trying to save a nickel will end up costing you much more in the long run. Get it done right and you will avoid a lot of headaches. Any questions? Send me an email at [email protected]

Thanks for reading.

PPM-at-SPAR-3D-Expo
584 270 Andy McFarland

Staying Ahead Of The Laser Scanning Curve At The SPAR Conference

3D Laser Scanning, As-Built Surveys, and Insights From The SPAR 3D Expo

Over the last 18 months, 3D laser scanning has radically changed the way we capture As-Built survey data at PPM. A process that used to take several days in the field using a handheld laser measuring device can now be completed in a matter of hours with a mobile laser scanner – and with far more data to show for it. The equipment and software are changing so fast, it has been a fun challenge catch up and keep up. We’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort to take advantage of the advancements in 3D laser scanners and AEC documentation, to the point we have even created a full-time Director of Survey Technology position at PPM to help us stay on the leading edge of this ever-evolving technology.

We are always on the hunt for new opportunities to learn about new developments in laser scanning, BIM, and CAD construction documentation. One of the events that we look forward to is the annual SPAR3D expo & conference. This event draws the leading companies and innovators across a broad range of 3D technology industries including laser scanning, BIM software, gaming, visualization, and more. In June, the SPAR3D conference came to Anaheim, and PPM was there. Greg (Director of Survey Technology), Colin (Field Service Director), and Mike (BIM Manager) joined Andy for the three-day event. We attended workshops, demoed new technology, and met with the leading companies in the 3D industry. Along the way, we identified a few prominent trends that stuck with us.

3D Laser Scanners Keep Getting Better and Cheaper, But PPM’s Favorite is Still the Zeb-Revo by GeoSLAM

PPM-As-Built-Surveyor-Measure-Home-Kitchen

PPM As-Built Surveyor using the Zeb-Revo for mobile 3D data capture.

If you have an interest in 3D laser scanning, there was no shortage of toys to play with at the SPAR3D conference. All the key players in the industry had a presence in the exposition hall, including Faro, Leica, Trimble, GeoSLAM, and more. One of the more interesting new scanners we saw was another mobile laser scanner from Paracosm that boasts full color in their point cloud data but took five times longer to process than other mobile solutions. After spending 3 days getting a first-hand look at all the new and existing equipment out there, it was clear to us that GeoSLAM’s Zeb-Revo is still the best tool for residential and commercial As-Built survey data capture. The Zeb-Revo is four times faster than traditional terrestrial laser scanner, provides extremely accurate 3D data, and comes at a relatively low price point – under $50K. It seems that PPM isn’t the only customer that has realized this, as GeoSLAM as a company has grown from 7 to 70 employees in just the last 18 months.

Scan-to-BIM Automation – Coming Your Way, Slowly but Surely

As much as 3D laser scanners have changed the way that PPM captures data in the field, there is still a very manual and time-consuming process that takes place after each scan. Our clients don’t want point cloud files – they want AutoCAD drawings or Revit models. One of our primary goals at the SPAR conference was to learn about any new software, “tech stacks,” that help to automate any step in the process of turning point clouds into architectural As-Builts. We saw demos from at least half a dozen middleware vendors including PointCab, PointSense by Faro, Pointfuse, 3DReshaper, and more. While there is still no, “magic bullet,” that will turn our point clouds into Revit models at the click of a button, we are beginning to look into some promising developments happening with point cloud rendering, surface recognition, and object meshes that can potentially save hours of time on each project.

Point Clouds are Awesome – But What Do I Do With All This Data?

PPM-Point-Cloud-3D-Survey

PPM’s As-Built drafters turn point cloud data into a Revit model

As we made the transition to 3D laser scanning at PPM, one challenge that we didn’t properly appreciate in the beginning was the radical change in data storage needs. Prior to laser scans, a typical PPM As-Built project contained a total of about 200–500 MB of data, and most of that was the photos that we take on every job. With all of the data that we get from our scanners, project sizes can get up to as high as 50 GB while they’re in production. Even after using more compressed file formats and other archiving techniques, with 3 laser scanners practically running around the clock, we are adding approximately 500 GB a month to our server. Clearly we aren’t the only ones experiencing this challenge, as there were several data storage services with a presence at the SPAR conference. The trend in the industry is to move this data to the cloud, which allows for more flexibility, scalability, and collaboration across teams in different physical locations. At PPM, we have just started implementing a cloud storage and collaboration tool called Egnyte, which will allow for scalable data storage that can be accessed from all of our locations (currently Long Beach, Oakland, and Salt Lake City).

In summary, the SPAR 3D Conference this year was jam-packed with new high-tech gear, software, processes, and a dizzying array of ideas to explore. Even with 4 people attending the event, we couldn’t cover everything in 3 days. But it definitely sparked a number of new initiatives that we plan to pursue in the months ahead… that is until SPAR 2019 comes around and we start all over again!

Interested in PPM’s 3D Laser Scanning systems and services? Send me an email at [email protected]

Thanks for reading.

An architect and a contractor review As-Built plans
576 384 Andy McFarland

It’s Summertime! The Busy Season For Beaches, Ballparks, Home Renovations and Of Course, As-Built Surveys

Your Summer Home Renovation Starts With An As-Built Survey

As The Temperature Rises, So Does The Volume of Construction Projects

As the calendar turns to July throughout the United States, home renovation and remodel projects are in full swing. Whether it’s the cranes that are taking over the downtown skylines, or the fenced-off construction projects you see driving through your neighborhood, the signs are everywhere. We take it for granted here in Southern California that in many parts of the country, there is a short season for getting renovation projects done – and we are right in the middle of it. The warm and dry summer periods are usually the friendliest time of the year for homeowners to plan and carry out home remodels, starting with an As-Built Survey. The data confirms it: Surveys have shown that over half of homeowners in the U.S. believe that summertime is the perfect time to renovate or improve their homes.

A PPM Surveyor Uses A Laser Scanner To Measure A Home

Well-Planned Remodels Start With Accurate As-Built Surveys

The nationwide data corresponds with what we have seen here in Southern California and the Bay Area at PPM. We work with hundreds of local architects, and since As-Built Surveys are the first step in a home renovation, we get a good pulse on what is happening out there in terms of new projects. As usual in 2018, our volume for new As-Built Survey requests in May and June increased by 20-30% compared to what we saw from February through April. Another trend we start to notice around this time is that our clients are in a rush to get started (even more than usual). It’s not uncommon for them to ask if we can get a surveyor out to their project within the next day or two after they call us. While we are always striving to be as quick as we can with our As-Built projects, unfortunately we usually aren’t able to get started that fast!   I remember when I was a kid I associated summer with fun, relaxation, and taking a break from school. Now, with the higher volume and quicker deadlines, summer is the busiest season at PPM – but that’s OK with me!

Planning a Remodel? 4 Tips To Help Make it a Little More “Worry Free”

It’s not just the summer season that is contributing to the high volume of construction projects right now – it’s also the strong real estate market (especially here in California), and a surging economy in general. So with all this demand out there for quality, professional architecture and construction services, the effect is that costs are going up, and it’s getting harder and harder to even find a professional that is available on short notice. To avoid getting caught in an expensive headache with your home remodel, here are some timely tips to planning your project.

  1. Be Mentally Prepared: Remodels are projects that task both the mental and physical faculties of those involved in them, regardless of the scope of the intended project as well as the individual or company involved. In the case of individual homeowners, tasks such as budget allocation, hiring the right architectural firm and handling some DIY projects can lead to major stress and even strained relationships. So the first priority is to prepare yourself both physically and financially for the long process of expansion or remodeling.
  2. Get Clear on What You Want: A good architect can certainly help you with creative ideas for your home renovations – that is exactly what you are paying them for. But you should have a pretty clear idea of what you want before you get serious about starting your project. Nothing will slow down a home remodel like indecision from the homeowners. The onus falls on you to do your research using home improvement journals, architectural magazines, home design websites like houzz.com, and more to get clear about exactly what it is you want to do with your home.
  3. Set a Realistic Budget. I talk to architects all the time, and they tell me that one of the biggest frustrations they have is when a homeowner contacts them with a completely unrealistic idea of what they can get for their money (like for example – add a 1,500 SF 2nd story to the house for $200,000). Your architect should know enough about construction costs to help guide down the right path, but they will need to know what your overall budget is for the project. Construction costs have risen in the last few years, so your budget might not go as far as you think. As a guideline, recently I have heard some numbers from contractors here in Southern California in the range of $250-350 per SF for home additions.
  4. Educate Yourself on the Process: In particular, there are 2 things that will be essential for your home remodel that your architect can help you with, but can be beneficial to do on your own if you want to be more involved with the process. First is learning about the permits that will be required from your city or county building department. Based on your project, they should be able to tell you right over the phone what the cost and process/timing should be for permitting. Second is obtaining accurate As-Built plans of your existing home. As-Built plans are obtained by taking real measurements of the existing structure, and then re-creating the plans (floor plans, exterior elevations, electrical components, etc…) either on paper or preferably in a digital format that is “architect-friendly” such as AutoCAD or Revit. All of the design and construction plans will be based on the As-Built plans, so it is critical that they be accurate (preferably within fractions of an inch) and include all the details needed for your particular project. The As-Builts can also be used by YOU, the homeowner, to help plan and draw your own remodel ideas before you start spending money on a professional.

Are You Ready to Start a Home Renovation? PPM Can Help With A Top-Notch As-Built Survey

For most people, their home is the biggest single financial investment they will make in their lifetime. Taking on a home renovation project can be stressful, but when it’s complete you get to enjoy the results for as long as you stay in the home – maybe even the rest of your life. Even if you move, the value that you have added to the home will likely pay off in the form of a higher sale price. At PPM, we take tremendous pride in the part that we get to play helping homeowners create their dream homes. It’s why our purpose is to help enable “Worry Free-Renovations”. Please Contact Us if you’d like to get a conversation started about your home remodel project and the essential first step – an As-Built Survey by Precision Property Measurements.

Thanks for Reading.

900 333 Andy McFarland

As-Built Surveys For Restoration Of Architectural Masterpieces

Long Beach Architecture Tour Featuring Mid-Century Pioneer Edward Killingsworth

 

Killingsworth commercial building used for Architectural Office Space

Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture, Inc.’s new office space in Long Beach, CA built by Architect Edward Killingsworth. Photo by Julius Shulman and Juergen Nogai © JUERGEN NOGAI

It All Started with an As-Built Survey…

Over the course of 16+ years and 17,000 (give or take) As-Built surveys, there are certain projects that stand out.  Sometimes it’s for not-so-great reasons (like in 2005 when I left all my tools on a client’s front porch and had to drive back to Yorba Linda in the middle of Friday afternoon traffic), but much more often it’s because the project is really cool and we are proud to be a part of them. Like working on a restoration of an architectural masterpiece.  A few months ago we were contacted by one of our regular clients, Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture Inc. with just such a project.  KSMA is an award-winning firm right here in Long Beach, specializing in residential, light commercial, cultural and urban planning projects.  They asked us to provide an updated survey of their headquarters in the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach.

When Passion and Work Combine, Everybody Wins

As we began the process of scheduling the project, one of our surveyors, Daniel Noble, quickly volunteered for the assignment.  What Daniel knew is that the building was designed by the late Edward A. Killingsworth FAIA, a well-remembered prominent local architect who has been recognized as one of Southern California’s most celebrated architects, primarily known for his Mid-century Modern masterpieces.  Daniel grew up in Long Beach, admiring Killingsworth’s work, with an ever growing passion for all types of architecture, interior design and restoration on historical structures.  Daniel did a full interior and exterior survey of the 5,000 SF building on April 27th using one of PPM’s laser scanners. Over the next week, he developed a complete set of As-Built Floor Plans, RCP, Roof Plan, Exterior Elevations, and a Section drawing in AutoCAD.

 

Surveyor Daniel sitting at desk for drafing work at Precision Property Measurements

Daniel Noble shown at his drafting work station at Precision Property Measurement’s headquarters in Long Beach, CA.

 

PDF drawing of east view of exterior elevations for KSW Architecture office

Daniel’s sketch of the east Exterior Elevations view of the KSM Architecture Office.

 

The As-Builts are done – but the story is just beginning.

If this was any other project, PPM’s involvement would have ended at this point.  We hand off the As-Built survey to our client, wish them luck in their restoration project, and then move on to the next one.  But as luck would have it, right after measuring the KSM Office, Kelly shared an invitation with Daniel to experience an upcoming tour of several local buildings that Killingsworth designed. The event was hosted by the Historical Society of Long Beach, and each structure was generously opened to the public by its current owner.  Daniel very excitedly attended the tour on May 19th along with about 100 other attendees.

The first stop on the tour was the Killingsworth family home. This house was a “family project,” and was built by Ed, his wife Laura (who still lives there today), and their two sons. The home was built with Killingsworth’s iconic post and beam construction style, and is still cherished by the family today as the primary place to gather each Christmas.

 

 

The next stop on the tour was the Brady Home, which has been recently purchased by the artist Lewy Kallas. With a deep love for Killingsworth’s work and architectural style, Lewy intends to restore the home back to it’s original design, after previous owners have changed the style of the home through a variety of renovations.

 

 

The final stop on the tour was a commercial office building located at that is widely viewed as one of Killingsworth’s most impactful works of architecture. This building was originally built to be a law office for Clock, Waestman, Clock, and is now owned by Oren and Lauren Tanzer. Most of the building is occupied by their company, Summerjax, while one unit is rented out to realtor Nate Cole, who operated his business Unique California Property which specializes in the sale and purchase of custom unique homes. Several of his clients have been owners or buyers of Killingsworth-designed homes.  As you can see from the photos, Killingsworth wanted guests to really feel like they had arrived at the structure by creating this special feature at the building entry.

 

 

Architects Make Great Partners

The Killingsworth Architecture tour was a great way to connect with the iconic designs of a Long Beach legend.  More broadly, it really put into perspective the amazing work that our architect clients like Kelly Sutherlin McLeod, FAIA are doing every day to create beautiful and functional living and work spaces.  We are honored to be able to partner with these leading-edge firms as they transform our built environment.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading!