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Thread: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

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    Certified AUGI Addict patricks's Avatar
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    Default Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    I'm working on a large existing building renovation. The entire existing building has been modeled using existing building drawings, with demo items already demolished in the model.

    This week I received a site survey, which shows the outline of the building. As usual, none of the building outline edges are parallel or at right angles, and the outline doesn't line up with my Revit model at all. For example, one exterior wall measures 81.5' according to the existing drawings and the Revit model, but that same wall measures 83 feet on the survey's building outline. I really don't think the actual building is off THAT much from the original construction drawings.

    What do most people do in this situation? Just kinda-sorta get the survey file in place based on the building outline and your existing building Revit model?

    If I tried to make the existing building's walls align to the survey's outline, it would be major hell trying to dimension stuff, and I mean dang near impossible. I know that buildings are never truly built square and plumb, but for dimensioning and other documentation purposes, you really have to draw it as if it were square and plumb.
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    I could stop if I wanted to mthurnauer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    Just having completed a project where we modeled the existing conditions from the original building drawings, I can understand your plight. I agree that having the building all out of square would be very difficult to work from and if it is close I would leave it square and make sure your dimensioning method accounts properly for what your intent is and does not put you at risk of precisely dimensioning existing conditions which you may no are not true. Fo example, we were sure to dimension new walls to be centered on grid lines as such and not to give hard dimensions. Other walls are then parallel to these and offset specific distances, but dimension strings are not closed and the break in the strings are located where we can afford for there to be a deviation from the design. If however, you were to find a bust of 1'-6" between the survey and existing conditions, I would have a surveyor or field rep verify it. It very well could be off by that much. I had two projects in recent years that had the floor elevations off by over 10 inches. A change like that is not necessarily an error, but may have been a change that was not reflected on your drawings.

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    Active Member andrewharle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    I too am trying to model and existing building where the survey drawings do not have parallel lines for walls.

    I have downloaded a window from a blog from Chris Senior which is stretchable, and have produced my own stretchable doors. Chris shows a useful trick to make heights and widths instances not types.

    However modelling irregular, non-parallel walls is the tricky bit. I am trying to do these as in-place families, but windows tend to jump around, and sometimes come up with errors.

    ArchiCAD has a polygonal wall tool, that allows you to draw more or less any polygon shape as a wall and then place windows and doors within it, and polygonal wall joins up with other walls and behaves as a regular wall. It makes modelling existing buildings easy - I once modelled a Victorian church from a survey.

    I would really like to see Revit come with a better set of tools for modelling existing buildings.

    Meanwhile if anyone has got more experience of how to do it please add you thoughts.
    Last edited by andrewharle; 2010-08-24 at 08:23 AM.
    Andy Harle
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    AUGI Addict ws's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    I'm not saying that it's particularly clever but I've done the attached in Revit and many similar buildings with varying wall thicknesses and tapers etc and been pleasantly surprised that Revit doesn't fall over

    Allplan, like Archicad mentioned, has a polygonal wall tool but you can also convert virtually any shape into a 'wall' and have windows and doors cut through automatically - and the windows and doors are stretchable...

    Revit lacks that flexibility but for me, makes up for it in the ease of displaying 3D in 2D 'drawings'.

    I take a sensible average for a really bendy wall and draw large variations as dotted lines and/or use the wonderful Cut Profile tool to amend the the apparent line of the wall in plan or section - as in the attached zoomed-in bit of 1:50 section drawing.

    Digital surveys by specialist surveyors can be a nuisance as noted above - I think you just have to take a view on the importance of certain angles. Usually I do my best to align to plan angles, much as I do when I measure up myself.
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    Active Member andrewharle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    William,

    Thanks for your response and your tip on the 'cut profile tool'.

    As an update on creating in-place wall components, the stretchable window with reveals that I referred to before does not work well in non-parallel walls. It can jump around all over the place, and when putting several in a wall, the wall fill pattern disappeared. It looks like a window or door in an irregular in-place family wall probably needs to have a single void forming it.

    I have therefore created a simple stretchable window from the standard 'Sgl Plain' window that seems to behave more reliably. The only issue I have is that windows seem to stretch or shrink around their mid-point no matter what reference planes are set to define origin.

    I have also aligned the tops of walls to the level lines in section and elevation, making their height adjust with the storey level.
    Andy Harle
    Revit 2016 windows 7

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    Default Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    Quote Originally Posted by patricks View Post
    I'm working on a large existing building renovation. The entire existing building has been modeled using existing building drawings, with demo items already demolished in the model.

    This week I received a site survey, which shows the outline of the building. As usual, none of the building outline edges are parallel or at right angles, and the outline doesn't line up with my Revit model at all. For example, one exterior wall measures 81.5' according to the existing drawings and the Revit model, but that same wall measures 83 feet on the survey's building outline. I really don't think the actual building is off THAT much from the original construction drawings.......(abridged)

    Hi Patricks,
    I have trusted my site measure over the survey if its out , however its usually been only one wall or a corner.
    Where I am relying upon the survey and only have that, I feel you have to trust the survey and run with it however, I have asked for confirmation where there is doubt as to accuracy.
    This gives pause for consideration, provides you with more surety and leaves a critical paper trail from raising your concerns. I agree, a wall that much off is likely an error on the part of the surveyor (not enough coffee that morning ?)
    regards
    trombe

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    Talking Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    Our office runs across this situation quite often as we do a lot of renovation and remodeling projects. In my experience the only thing that I trust 100% is my own tape measure. If there is a discrepancy between the drawn or modeled files then the best thing is probably to take the time to go field measure the building or area in question, or else you'll always be guessing which document is correct.

    By the same token, if you are doing renovations on only one side of the building and a wall on the other side where there isn't any new work going on is off by some dimension then it may not be worth the time or effort to verify.

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    All AUGI, all the time gwnelson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    I have yet to find a survey where the walls are at right angles. Is this a legacy of sloppy carpentry or surveying? I trust the builder first, always.

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    Active Member andrewharle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    Some thoughts on this...

    The age of the building is important in determining whether to trust the design intent or the survey.

    On older buildings like the one I am working on at present I am assuming that the survey is not accurate, but equally that walls in places vary in thickness and wall lines may not be parrallel.

    On a project I worked on once modelling an modern existing building (in ArchiCAD) we buit our model from the original architects drawings, but then modified our model to suit an as-built survey the client insisted was required. It turned out that the drawings were more accurate than the survey, and we had several setting out problems on site because we had followed the survey.

    As mthurnauer notes its best to check any major discrepancies.
    Andy Harle
    Revit 2016 windows 7

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    AUGI Addict ws's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best practice for existing building shown on site survey?

    There's only one land/building surveyor I trust locally, and it's interesting that everyone else seems to trust their own measurements as well... based on experience I expect

    Even on my own surveys I never entirely trust those laser measure devices (i.e. Distos and the like) despite using them since the early days and always take several check measurements and/or use the min/max function into corners etc.

    I still have tape measures in my bag, and pencil and paper are hard to beat when surveying old buildings.

    I've tried the Bluetooth devices for transmitting measurements to a handheld but found it very hard work and went back to pen, pencil and clipboard

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