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Bringing Cohesion to a Single-Family Residence 352 196 Alexxis Plata

Bringing Cohesion to a Single-Family Residence

Bringing Cohesion, Comfort, and Functionality to a Single-Family Residence

Establishing Order in a Home That Has Undergone Several Add-Ons

Bringing Cohesion, Comfort, and Functionality to a Single-Family Residence

Establishing Order in a Home That Has Undergone Several Add-Ons

Embarking on the quest to transform houses into homes that burst with uniqueness, TriVistaUSA Design + Build, based in Arlington, Virginia, lives by the slogan “building cool projects for cool people”. In an interview with Kieran Fannan, Project Architect at TriVista, we explore a captivating remodeling journey that not only aligns with the company’s ethos but also showcases the pivotal role of precise As-Built plans in their creative process.

TriVista architects revel in projects in which their clients’ special interests and unique features shape the blueprint of their homes into something new. For this project, TriVista immediately resonated with the client’s vision and teamed up with her to make it happen.

Where There’s a Vision There’s a Way

Partnering with PPM for their As-Built plans is now part of TriVista’s process, and our collaborative journey spans 58 remodel projects since 2021. This particular project was located in Vienna, Virginia and totaled approximately 4,000 square feet.

Kieran enjoyed how the homeowner compiled her ideas by creating collages in PowerPoint. Kieran would take her collages, put them against some of photos included in the As-Built drawings we delivered, and imagine the space as his client desired it to be. It was an unorthodox yet effective way for the homeowner to communicate her vision, a creative example of picking whatever tool works for you, as long as you get the message across.

Every Home Has a Story

The homeowner owned this house for a few years prior to initiating the remodel and had been renting it out while she waited to retire. At the beginning of her retirement, it became the starting point for her “forever home”. This house was interesting because it resembled a LEGO house that had a patchwork of additions built over several decades. By the time it reached TriVista, there were no cohesive plans or documentation for the house to begin remodeling. Kieran explained that the house appeared small from the street, but when someone would walk inside, it felt easy to get lost.

Plans for the Home

The homeowner wanted to utilize the space well by creating a primary suite upstairs in what was then a loft and bathroom that a previous owners had redone themselves. Kieran’s goal was to design the space to be more livable for the homeowner and to fix the lack of cohesion in the house. When redesigning a home, comfort and functionality are top of mind for him. Below you’ll find the scope of work for As-Built plans that was needed for Kieran to accomplish his goal.

As-Built Scope of Work

  • Floor Plan
  • Roof Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Still Photos

Discoveries Through As-Built Plans

Kieran requested full plans and elevations for the house. At the time, the architects at TriVista were using AutoCAD, and PPM’s drawings were easy to transfer into their AutoCAD templates. What was most important for Kieran was being able to see accurate wall thicknesses. There were several areas of the house where it was difficult to see what was going on. Viewing the plans stacked on top of each other enabled Kieran to see where specific plumbing chases and HVAC lines were, which prevented potential issues and delays in the construction phase.


Unpredictable Roof Lines

Because of the numerous additions, the home had differing roof lines that were easily visible in our As-Built roof plan. PPM’s As-Built surveyor mentioned the property had a complex roof that appeared to have been added onto several times and had vegetation all around it.

Expanding Underutilized Space

There was a portion of the second floor that had been underutilized. One part of TriVista’s plans was to add a dormer to the front of the house. Originally, the space seemed small looking at the plan view compared to walking through the attic. Once the space was opened up, they managed to gain a bedroom's worth of space, which became a reading nook when construction was done.

“Working with Justin at PPM is wonderful. At times, he'll give us a call and advise adjustments to our deliverable requests to best fit our scope. He helps us save money in the end. If we save money and the client saves money, everybody is happy.”

– Kieran Fannan, Architect at TriVistaUSA Design + Build

Interview With the As-Built Surveying and Modeling Experts

To get a deeper understanding of what went into creating the As-Built Plans for this house, we interviewed the surveyor and modeler for this project. Read more about their experiences from their perspectives.

As-Built Surveyor Interview

Which equipment did you use and why?
We chose the GeoSLAM ZEB Revo for this property because it’s the best scanner for working with small spaces.

Which specific strategies/techniques did you employ to make sure you captured all the data properly?
This was a fun, but challenging property to survey. It was early in the pandemic, so the owner was working from home. I had to time my scanning between the homeowner’s online meetings and school classes. It was important that I worked around the people in the home, so I ended up scanning one of the bedrooms separately.

What was most unique about surveying this property?
The original cottage design, plus the many additions over the years, created unique spaces throughout the home. The layout challenged me as a surveyor in almost every facet of the surveying process.

What challenges, if any, did you face while surveying this property?
The scanners don’t produce accurate data if they scan people moving, so I had be very careful to avoid running into anyone while moving through the spaces. I also had to use the upper deck to capture a large amount of roof data. So essentially, I had to plan a good path, be diligent to capture all the small and unique spaces, work around moving objects, and utilize some techniques for capturing data at angles, all while trying to not have a scan that was too large. Because I did have a few partial scans, I had to create some overlap, so that I could successfully merge in the spaces later.

As-Built Modeler Interview

Did you work on drafting or modeling this property, or both?
I modeled this project in Revit and exported it to AutoCAD.

Which specific strategies/techniques did you use to make sure you modeled all data properly?
As all projects do, it required me to thoroughly check the linework to ensure it matched the point cloud and the photos. I usually run through each room’s photos, both the 360 and still images, to make sure I catch everything. I usually end up going through photos two to three times with houses like this one.

What was most unique about modeling this property?
The most interesting exterior element was the circular entryway.

What did you most enjoy about modeling this property?
In the end, the details were a lot of fun to see come together. These kinds of details make a project feel more complete and finished, making it more satisfying.

The Final Result of the Remodel


Transforming Homes through As-Built Plans

This remodel project is a testament to the transformative power of precision and collaboration. PPM’s As-Built plans unraveled the layers of the property’s history and empowered Kieran to create a home that brings tranquility to the owner. The journey encapsulated not just the physical evolution of the house but also the emotional importance to its owner.

Reviving Baltimore’s Historic “Clifton House” 776 420 Alexxis Plata

Reviving Baltimore’s Historic “Clifton House”

Reviving Baltimore’s Historic Single-Family “Clifton House”

A Cultural Heritage Restoration Journey

Reviving Baltimore’s Historic Single-Family “Clifton House”

A Cultural Heritage Restoration Journey

Preserving cultural heritage goes beyond bricks and mortar; it intertwines with the narratives of families and communities, forming an integral part of our shared history. The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, an initiative of the National Trust of Historic Preservation, champions this cause annually through a grant program.

In this article, we delve into a poignant project funded by this program — the restoration of the Clifton House. This historic residence, once home to influential figures Lucille and Fred Clifton, embodies not only architectural significance but also a rich tapestry of activism, art, and community engagement.

This program provided a fellowship for a student to study, document, and preserve the historical structure. In addition to its historic significance, the Clifton House was selected because of its community and cultural significance with the original owners. Lucille Clifton (pictured left) was a poet and artist, and she and her husband were both activists in the community fighting for African American rights.

Choosing a Cultural Beacon

The personnel at the National Trust build relationships with sites and work that possess diverse histories. When the time came to pick a fellow and site to which to allocate funds, they passed the torch to Joel Randolph, a member of the Digital Documentation Fellowship, a program of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. At the time, Joel lived in Baltimore, was studying environmental design and architecture at Morgan State University, and participated as a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

A Vision with a History

The Cliftons' daughter, Sidney Clifton (pictured right), is an Emmy-nominated film producer passionate about bringing recognition to the impact her parents had on both the arts and activism in Baltimore, as well as encouraging other young people to be more active in their community.

When the house was purchased after the Cliftons first owned the property, it was transformed into a duplex for rental purposes. The bottom of the building was designed to be one unit, while the top was the second unit. To fulfill this concept, the new owners installed a second kitchen, so the house could be appropriately subdivided.

Sidney Clifton then repurchased the home in 2019 with a vision to restore the property back to a single-family home and align it with her and her siblings’ memories of the original house. The “Period of Significance”, or time period when Lucille and Fred Clifton’s family lived there, is what Sidney wanted to restore.

Architectural Symphony

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund contacted Quinn Evans, an architectural design collective, with the project, and they agreed to take it on. Sydney Clifton was particularly interested in working with an architect of color for this project. Senior Associate at Quinn Evans, Nakita Reed, was familiar with the fund and was a perfect fit to lead this project with her firm. She understood the family story and the significance of the project. It was a passion piece for Nakita, as well as a specialty of Quinn Evans, as they do historic preservation in sites around the US.

One of the main deliverables of this project was a Historic Structures Report. This is when Quinn Evans engaged Precision Property Measurements to perform an As-Built survey and produce 2D and 3D plans of the Clifton House in AutoCAD and Revit. The Quinn Evans team used the plans to provide recommendations for restoration purposes. The purpose of attaining the plans was not to create a new design for the building, but to create this special report.

“It’s easier to tell the story of the existing conditions using the As-Built plans as the backdrop. The As-Built plans allowed us to diagram areas of the building that have been altered historically.”

- Nakita Reed, Senior Associate at Quinn Evans

As-Built Scope of Work

  • Floor Plans
  • Roof Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Revit Model
  • Still Photos

The Art of Preservation with As-Built Plans

PPM’s part in the fellowship was to guide Joel and his team through the process of capturing As-Built data, while teaching the laser scanning, point cloud, and point-cloud-to-Revit processes. This enabled the fellows to use the point cloud and Revit model to highlight elements of the existing structure that were important for the Cliftons to preserve as they renovate with respect to the history of the building.

The fellowship didn’t already have existing drawings, so having As-Built plans created quickly provided base documentation from which they could design. Since the main purpose of their project was to create a Historic Structures Report, they didn’t progress the project to construction. The intent of the As-Built plans was to serve as a diagram on top of which to draw concept sketches and schematics.

“Blending new technology with historic buildings is something that people often overlook the importance of. Using laser scanning as another tool in the toolbelt of preservation architects and documentation of historic structures is something that is really viable.”

– Nakita Reed, Senior Associate at Quinn Evans

Using the information gathered, the Quinn Evans team advised the client to focus any changes on areas that had already been altered, so that areas that had not been altered could remain intact.

The rear of the building had been significantly altered throughout its transformation from a single-family residence to a rental property.

The As-Built plans were a visual advantage that enabled them to highlight which areas had been changed and make recommendations to revert areas back to their original form.

Preservation Zone Plans

Quinn Evans used the floor plans to highlight which zones were primary, secondary, tertiary, or non-rated from a historic significance standpoint to help communicate where preservation efforts needed to be focused throughout the building.

The front and the exterior of the building, as well as the porch, all needed to be maintained. The approximately 170-page report included the drawings from PPM as an appendix to provide clients access to the plans of the exterior and interior.

The Impact of As-Built Plans on the Students in the Fellowship

Joel and a few students visited the site with the Historic American Building Survey, where they hand measured a few elements of the structure, learned about the history of the site, and used the As-Built plans to create some drawings of what the home looked like when Sydney lived there.

Because the students weren’t able to document measurements of the entire home, the As-Built drawings and 3D model gave the students a deeper understanding of the structure. During the site visit, they compared what they saw in person to what they saw in the plans.

Leicester B. Holland Prize is an annual competition that recognizes the best single-sheet measured drawing of a historic building, structure, or site. Joel and his classmates submitted the sheet they created to officially document the site, have it listed in the Library of Congress, and increase the number of places celebrating African American heritage. Though not the primary goal, winning the competition became a perk of their hard work! The submission board for the Holland Prize included data and select drawings they were able to create from the 3D Revit model. The fellowship sliced the model and summarized their findings for an academic setting, and those records are now held in the Library of Congress.

To view the records, you can visit the Library of Congress at www.loc.gov.

Behind the Scenes: Perspectives from the Surveyor and Drafter/Modeler

After learning about the intricacies of this project, we interviewed the surveyor and drafter for this project. Indulge in the Q&A of their experiences with this historical structure. The historical home was surveyed by our Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, Justin Yotter.

“I enjoyed surveying this site because it was challenging and unique, and most critically, it has a tie to a unique cultural and political family that made a huge impact on their community.”

- Justin Yotter, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director at PPM

Q&A: Perspectives from the Surveyor

Which strategies/techniques did you employ to make sure all data was captured?
We covered the mirrors with paper to avoid reflections of cloud data, propped open the doors, set up ladders to the detached garage and the porch roof, and made sure we could access all the doors. Because the back stairs were closed off, we had to close the loop with the scanner by getting as close as possible to the exterior and the stairwell that was blocked off. We had to be extra diligent in our path for scanning, as we had to go up and down two ladders to two different roof surfaces and up an exterior staircase to the prior roof area.

Which equipment did you use to capture the measurement data?
We scanned the site with the GeoSLAM ZEB Revo because it provided the best blend between volume of data and range for a house of this size. We also utilized the Leica Distometer and a Stanley 25-foot tape measure. We used both of those to capture some hand detail measurements and follow our standard quality assurance process that addresses overall perimeter and window and door measurements. We took still photos and then 360 photos for our production team with a Ricoh Theta camera.

What was most unique about surveying this property?
It is a historic house that has a wraparound porch and tons of nice woodwork and hardwood floors. In addition, it has a lot of various architectural features that we made sure to capture.

What challenges, if any, did you face while surveying this property?
The challenges were many, but by setting everything up in a way that was conducive to the scanner’s ability to best capture the data, we were able to get high-quality data of the home. We scanned two structures, the house and the detached garage, and there was a staircase to the roof, with some flat areas, plus another roof to access. In addition, the basement had very low clearance with very little light.

Q&A: Perspective from the Drafter/Modeler

What was the most unique aspect of drafting/modeling this property?
The emergency escape feature stood out as exceptionally distinctive for this property, as it’s an uncommon element in single-family homes. This one was especially unique because it involves navigating multiple roofs and staircases from an upper-story window. Capturing these details without point cloud data would pose a significant challenge.

What challenges, if any, did you face while drafting/modeling this property?
Drafting and modeling the top story presented difficulties due to the variety of sloped ceilings. These complexities required precise attention to detail to get the items modeled accurately.

History Lies Within the Buildings That Surround Us

Historic preservation paves the way for a sense of place and community for our past. It can serve as inspiration in our lives when we tie the historical, architectural, and aesthetic character of buildings to our families and legacies the way the Cliftons did. We’re grateful to have played a role in such a historically significant project orchestrated by the National Trust of Historic Preservation and Nakita Reed from Quinn Evans.