A comprehensive overview

Facility managers – contractors who maintain and oversee large, often multiple occupancy or use buildings, such as apartment blocks, schools, chemical or manufacturing plants or offices – can use the data provided in as-built surveys to ascertain areas of concern or to aid renovation or planned changes. Facilities managers rely on accurate, up-to-date documentation, to maintain and manage buildings effectively and efficiently. An as-built survey will provide comprehensive information about the structure’s components – such as utility locations, structural elements such as beams, and floor plans for fire escape layouts – that are present. Used in conjunction with existing data and plans, as-built surveys can be very useful in formulating a picture of a building’s current state.

As-built surveys are carried out by highly qualified professionals. They are a detailed record of the structure’s physical shape and size, providing dimensions and location, as well as material components and equipment installed. As-builts are often carried out when a building or site is complete, but they can be useful at any point in the structure’s lifespan. Data captured during an as-built survey can then be used to ascertain the current state of a structure against any original plans, or any amendments that may have been made to it in the intervening timeline.

Carrying out as-built surveys over a period of time will demonstrate any changes that have occurred to the building – these can be both intended (such as extensions) or unintended (such as subsidence or settlement). The nature of as-built surveys mean that they require a lot of data, which in turn can make such surveys seem expensive. High data capture and complex drawings take time to create and time costs money. However, the benefits to the end user far outweigh the initial cost.

Maintaining quality

When it comes to facilities management, there are obvious reasons for having an up-to-date and precise picture of a building or structure. If the building has recently been sold, for example, then the new owners may want to have an accurate plan of the current state of the building and its facilities. As-built surveys are carried out using state-of-the-art laser scanners, which are extremely exact in their recording and processing of data. In facilities management, this data can be used in a number of ways, including for the generation of plans, documents, reports or 3D models.

Managers are at the mercy of the accuracy of their data when they are creating maintenance programmes, which will be used to inform where challenges may arise. This can be particularly useful when it comes to remedial repair work. Regular maintenance will protect the owner’s investment and maintain the quality of the building and its services for the future.

As-built surveys will also define where services and utilities are present on-site, which can be useful for servicing and maintenance contracts. These surveys are also useful for calculating the Net Internal Areas (NIA). This works out the useable area of a building, which can then inform the building’s energy performance or Gross External Areas (GEA). From this, the maintenance fees, taxes and other expenses of a building can be calculated.

Changes over time

During the construction process, changes can occur to design specifications. These will be approved by all parties but may only be present in amended designs. Using as-built survey data can help facilities managers chart any changes that took place during construction, that may be different to what is outlined in the most recent, existing digital or paper plans. Having detailed up to date as-built records will allow facilities managers to decide on future renovations and upgrades to the building too. For example, over time, renovations may be needed, to bring a building up to current standards, regulations, or energy performance. Having a full picture of the building and site as it stands is essential for planning how and where improvements can be made.

Using as-built surveys in various different applications can help immensely with the condition of a building.  It can improve its lifespan – the sooner issues that could become problematic can be addressed, the less of an adverse impact they will have. They can also make a facilities manager’s job more straightforward and allow them to maintain, coordinate, develop and communicate their management plans accordingly. This way, priorities can be identified, and the right and timely decisions can be made.