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Realserve has a surveying team in Sydney that uses the latest 3D scanning tools to capture high resolution data to then create 2D drawings for industrial warehouse buildings, either modern or heritage listed.

Case Study: Surveying a heritage listed industrial warehouse in Sydney

Surveying a heritage listed site using 3D scanning

Realserve has a surveying team in Sydney that uses the latest 3D scanning tools to capture high resolution data to then create 2D drawings for industrial warehouse buildings, either modern or heritage listed. The 2D drawings can include floor plans, reflected ceiling plans, section & elevation plans for both internal and external spaces. We were engaged by the facilities manager from NSW Harbour Trust to document Building 11 Retort House in Sydney.

How does a surveyor in Sydney use 3D scanning to produce 2D drawings

A surveyor in Sydney can use 3D building scanning tools to capture every detail internally and externally for any type of structure. This surveying technique can be used on large high rise buildings, commercial offices, retail shops or in the case of this project, a heritage listed industrial warehouse.

The data captured from the 3D scan is extremely accurate, and this data can be used to create a Point Cloud which is then used to create any type of 2D detailed as built drawing documentation that is required.

Surveying heritage industrial warehouse buildings in Sydney Retort House 3D scanning

Can 3D building scanning be used to refurbish a heritage listed building?

If a heritage listed structure is being considered for refurbishment, renovation, remodelling or being modernised then it becomes very critical to have documentation of the existing conditions. For this site the heritage architecture team wanted to start their refurbishment planning but had a goal of maintaining as many of its original features as possible.

This heritage building was actually imported from England in the late 1800’s and assembled onsite in Sydney. So by 3D scanning this industrial warehouse we were able to capture much more detail than was required, but this would ensure it is easier for the drafting team to work with if more information was needed. This would avoid the need for repeated surveying visits or for new measurements to be taken as the 3D scanner picks up every visible detail.

To help facilitate the cost estimating for these types of changes 3D scanning can capture the information of a site with high-resolution images and detailed measurements. These advanced surveying technologies can scan in low-light and no-light conditions, inside or out, to ensure you get the information you need for a project whether it is an old building or a modern structure.

We use the latest cutting edge scanning tools that capture 360 degrees worth of information that measures the distances of objects and structural elements. Then our software stitches that information together to form a true-to-life 3D virtual space, known as a Point Cloud.

With millions of data points from various perspectives, you get a photorealistic representation of reality that can be used by interior designers, steel detailer, an architect or builder to help make decisions on how suitable the building might be for refurbishment.

Surveying heritage industrial warehouse buildings in Sydney Retort House interior Surveying heritage industrial warehouse buildings in Sydney Retort House point cloud

3D scanning an industrial warehouse to create an existing conditions Revit Model

Instead of using traditional surveying methods to produce 2D documentation, 3D scanning can be used to create a BIM (Building Information Model) Revit Model reflecting the existing conditions of a building internally and externally. This electronic representation can be viewed, shared and manipulated by multiple stakeholders and used as a Digital Twin so that potential scenarios and variations of a refurbishment can be tested. Any changes made to the BIM model by the various contractors and designers involved in a project are visible for all stakeholders to view, no matter where they are located. 

An architect, MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) Engineer and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) professional can utilize a 3D Revit model for design purposes. Using a Revit model allows for entire buildings or parts of buildings to be modelled and worked on electronically and simultaneously. This can be very useful for various AEC (Architecture Engineering and Construction) industry professionals collaborating on a project. Using the BIM process makes it easier to develop a design ensuring that clashes don’t occur with existing elements or other elements due to be installed. The Revit model also makes it easy to create and view 3D renders, 3D perspectives, detailed ‘birds eye’ view drawings and fly throughs.

Everything designed in a Revit BIM Model is visible to all stakeholders with access to the master model. This allows for adjustments to be made to suit the requirements of the existing site conditions, other professionals’ designs, and the client’s goals. This means that newly constructed elements will always fit into the space provided and avoid clashes with existing structures and services like lighting, power or water. 

How much detail can a 3D scan of a heritage building capture?

Surveying heritage industrial warehouse buildings in Sydney Retort House point cloud aerial view

The Retort House is a single-storey 310m2 building comprising classically-inspired cast iron columns, latticed girders and iron roof trusses. This means there are lots of intricate details both inside and outside the structure. The benefit of using 3D scanning for this type of building is that all these small details can be captured digitally. 

This becomes quite important when trying to reuse heritage listed buildings for other purposes. For this building the refurbishment ideas included;

  • Recladding the structure to reveal its iron structure.
  • Potentially opening the clad sides of the building to create indoor/outdoor space with views through the building to the park, harbour and cliff-face. 
  • Potentially adding a mezzanine level and deck area opening to the park and waterfront.
  • Adapting it to be re-used as a restaurant, exhibition or function space, or other visitor-oriented purpose.
  • Leasing it in an unrefurbished format to give a new tenant the opportunity to repair and upgrade the building to suit their requirements.


With the immense amount of data captured using 3D scanning, it can all be used at a later stage to secure approvals for any proposed changes. In the case of this site, any changes would need to suit the provisions of the Platypus Management Plan, get Harbour Trust Planning Approval and be compliant with the National Construction Code (formerly BCA).

3D scan data can be used to produce a Revit Model to any level of detail (level of detail) required. Variations in the LOD scopes might include things such as whether ceiling services are modelled or not. For additional fees, the scope of a Revit model can include things such as:

  • Floor shape to precise RL level to show deflection and deviation
  • Model column deflection to 10mm tolerance
  • Model roof deflection to +/-20mm tolerance
  • Model beam deflection to 10mm tolerance
  • Model purlins and cross bracing to +/- 10mm in size to best fit
  • Custom doors families or model in place
  • Additional site information (adjacent buildings, street lights, Footpaths, Kerbs + gutters, roadway, street furniture, etc)

3D scanning of existing conditions can save time and money

3D scanning existing conditions of a heritage listed site can revolutionise the speed and efficiency of making changes or preserving old buildings. You don’t need to conduct multiple site visits as the models can be viewed on a laptop, computer or mobile phone any time of day. 

Every small detail is captured including external ornate fittings, pilon shapes, facades or internal features like ceiling beams, columns or other period interior design elements. You avoid any inaccuracies derived from old drawings or blueprints that can lead to delays for a project, especially for old buildings.

Other documentation can be created as required, so for example;

  • A Reflected Ceiling Plan can be produced to help plan requirements for new lighting, fire safety, ventilation or electrical wiring.
  • A Car Parking Plan could be created to help work out the parking capacity for the location and if changes could be made to increase available spots.
  • If the floor plan will have changes made to it, a new Evacuation Diagram can be created to assist with delivering all the required safety measures for the site.

Utilising 3D scanning and modelling for old buildings that are heritage listed has so many extended uses that save time and money when managing or working with either tourist, industrial or commercial properties. All of these plans could also be supplied in PDF & 2D AutoCAD.dwg files. 

3D scanning of existing conditions can help secure a new tenant

Any prospective tenant can use the 2D documentation produced or request access to a Revit Model to be able to work out if the space might be suitable for their needs. Making it easy for a potential tenant to try their own refurbishment ideas could be the difference between leasing the property or have it remain vacant for months. 

By getting a new set of existing conditions surveyed and documented it means an architect, builder, interior designer, fit out team could be engaged to provide suggestions or advice on how the space might be used. This could convince a potential tenant to lease the property as it will document essential data in determining the suitability of a warehouse for your purposes, including the warehouse minimum and minimum clearance heights, heights and widths of roller shutter openings, changes in floor levels, column locations and sizes, etc.

What else can an existing conditions 3D building scan be used for?

The big advantage of contracting a surveyor to use the latest 3D scanning technology buildings is that the data captured can be used for multiple purposes if required.

A Matterport Virtual 3D Tour could have been created to enable someone to virtually ‘walk’ through the space being considered as a new location to rent. This can be useful if leasing managers are located interstate or overseas and want to inspect possible sites from a distance. This can also help save time for the real estate agent not needing to open the site for physical tours. This heritage site was also quite large, so its scale can be better presented using a virtual tour vs standard photography.

Point cloud, REVIT model samples from this heritage site

Get more information about our range of 3D Building Scanning Services


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Take a look at our 3D Laser Scanning services in Australia

Realserve has a team of surveyors who can provide 3D Laser Scanning services in each capital city of Australia. We use use the latest cutting-edge equipment to produce a wide array of survey plans, point cloud data, Revit or Digital Twin 3D models. 3D laser scanning allows surveyors to provide as-built, existing condition, surveys that are incredibly accurate for internal or external spaces. 

Our qualified surveyors can play a pivotal role in any project with the use of laser scanning technologies to improve the plan, design, construction, management, renovation or refurbishment processes for any building type.