What Is an As-Built Survey?

Exactly like the name sounds, an as-built survey is an accurate visual rendering showing a completed construction or engineering project. Today’s laser scanning makes the process fast, efficient, and affordable and will even save money in the long run. Cost reduction is so significant, in fact, the U.S. government General Services Administration (GSA) now requires building information models (BIM) to provide clash detection on every government construction project.

From the perspective of a contractor or engineer, as-builts provide evidence of your work and should be completed before signing off on any project.

An as-built survey also provides information that will be valuable in the future. Those conducting maintenance on the building will refer to them. Expansion, restoration, and renovation projects rely on accurate clash detection models. Fire fighters and other emergency crews can utilize the as built survey to accelerate rescue work. Ultimately, demolition crews can benefit from as-built drawings to conduct their work safely.

How Are As-Builts Created?

Modern laser scanning tools quickly and safely collect over one million points of data per second.  This data is used to create highly detailed 2D and 3D maps and BIMs of a project.

Elements of an As-Built

An as-built should provide clear construction verification. With specialized software, you should be able to overlay the original design with an as-built image and clearly see what was built to spec and what had to be changed.

An as-built survey should include a number of elements:

  • Any variation from the original design, including the dates and reasons
  • All changes in materials used
  • Dimensions
  • Building’s position
  • Utilities, including sewer lines, electric, and plumbing
  • Location of door, windows, elevators, etc.
  • Fabrications, such as columns and railings

Why Conduct Multiple As-Built Surveys During a Project?

Conducting an as-built survey should never be an afterthought. Putting off an as-built survey until after a project has been completed can backfire. In fact, there are several reasons to do multiple as-builts that record construction phase by phase.

  • Changes that are not documented as they occur can be forgotten or mis-represented, making an accurate final as-built harder to achieve.
  • Conducting a survey at the end of a phase lets you confirm that a project is progression–or not progressing-according to plan.
  • Documenting ongoing work makes it far more efficient for onboarding subcontractors.
  • Everyone on your construction and design teams can easily keep up with progress and make decisions.
  • Not having accurate as-builts can slow down an already glacial permit process, causing expensive delays.


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