Measured Site Surveys, how do they benefit the Client?

Written by coreArchitect

Topics: Onsite adventures.

A new Client with a great new project!

Whilst meeting with your prospective new Client, who is eager to press on with a new redevelopment project, they show you some badly photocopied plans and explain a few ideas; they are keen to get you onboard straight away and you rush back to the office and produce a pitch letter stating your company’s fees for the project. Now at this point it can go a number of ways, your potential Client will either:

  • Be happy and sign you up straight away, or,
  • Thank you for your time and go with your competitor, or,
  • Tell you they are happy but ask how you can reduce your fees!

Reducing fees can be a very precarious way to do business, and is too big a subject to cover in this blog post, but suffice to say that the Client notes in your breakdown a sum for Survey of the existing building and is now asking for some clarification.

Why does the Client need a Measured Survey?

The Client has some quite detailed drawings and cannot understand why you can’t use them to work from.

Existing paper drawings are great for discussion or for sketching initial ideas over, but are not a valid or practical way to proceed with a project. The drawing board is a very rare sight in any modern architectural practice; I myself have been working with CAD since 1989! As with most office procedures drawing too is done electronically.

It would be great if every Client could make available some as-built drawings in CAD format, which could be emailed straight away so work could start immediately, however when paper copies are offered it needs to be pointed out that work can not start straight away.

It is not without note that any half-decent CAD operator could produce an excellent set of clear plans scaled and measured from a set of paper drawings, but how accurate and correct are these originals?

Buildings change during their history: walls get demolished or added, doorways move, windows become doors and doors become windows, services change and structures get extended. There are many unknowns when dealing with an existing building: constructional details, condition of the building fabric, existence of hazardous materials and extent of services to name a few. Sizes, heights and floor areas are also unknown and clarification of these helps with the knowledge of a building and effects the proposals.

It is important to tie all this information down and get some accuracy and clarity.

Balancing the Cost.

The relatively small expense related to an accurate measured survey can save the Client money.

The as-built CAD drawings mentioned above are a set of drawings completed at the end of a building contract, they take into account any changes to the original construction set of drawings that may have occurred during a project. They will be the most accurate drawings available, although still not guaranteed to be 100% correct as the building owner, or user, may have modified the property since the contract was completed.

It is therefore very important that the initial measured survey is correct and complete as it will become the backbone of the entire project drawing package. Consequently confusion or inconsistency will be limited as the project goes to site.

With obvious benefits of a consistent level of survey information already noted, below are two examples of where projects additionally benefitted from precise survey information:

  • Having received a Rateable Value assessment for Business Rates a Client on a recent office project decided to check the existing floor areas using a measured survey. The accurate survey highlighted errors in the square meter values used on past calculations; in the Clients favour!
  • Space requirements can be critical on some projects. Existing electronic information that has been issued still requires validating and checking. Having received CAD drawings for a recent commercial fit-out project it was found that the drawings were incorrect showing an inaccurate building size. Following checks of the overall dimensions the length of the building was shown to be out by nearly 1000mm [over 3 feet]; fortunately it was larger than shown and some oversized pieces of machinery could be planned to fit in the existing space; if the building had been smaller by the same amount those pieces of machinery may not have fitted!

Is it worth it?

In conclusion the measured survey is beneficial and essential, to any successful project. It records any anomalies, clarifies initial oversights and highlights potential problems. It makes the design team more aware of the project and allays any site concerns that they may have.

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