CWLs survey team is carrying out a laser scanned measured survey of St Peters church in Colchester today. What a beautiful hidden gem of a building. It is always a privilege to work on buildings of this quality.
Are you or your neighbour carrying out building works? There is a good chance that you or your neighbour will have responsibilities under the Party Wall etc Act 1996.
What is a party wall?
The main types of party walls are:
- a wall that stands on the lands of 2 (or more) owners and forms part of a building – this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners
- a wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall but not including timber fences
- a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by 2 (or more) owners to separate their buildings
The Act also uses the expression ‘party structure’. This could be a wall or floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings in different ownership, such as in flats.
What the Act covers
The Act covers:
- new building on or at the boundary of 2 properties
- work to an existing party wall or party structure
- excavation near to and below the foundation level of neighbouring buildings
This may include:
- building a new wall on or at the boundary of 2 properties
- cutting into a party wall
- making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
- removing chimney breasts from a party wall
- knocking down and rebuilding a party wall
- digging below the foundation level of a neighbour’s property
If you think any of the above applies to you, please drop us a message here.
If you would like to learn a little more about the Party Wall Act and how it applies to you, please find a link the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Explanatory Booklet here.
In our experience, many architects, surveyors and designers keep the tools of their trade locked tightly away out of sight, for fear that letting competitors know what to use could damage their business. The truth is, your skill in using the tools counts for a lot more than what you use and should be all you really need to succeed. So in this spirit, here is a quick look at some of the equipment we use here at clockworklime ltd.
Our S120 laser scanner from FARO allows for the capture of measured survey information rapidly and extremely accurately. Once ‘stitched’ together, the scanned data reveals any given site, buildings or objects construction in ways difficult to imagine before, let alone measure. We strive to use this equipment to provide supremely detailed measured data to architects, design professionals, engineers, and builders alike.
The main camera we use is the Samsung NX300 with a 18-55 lens. This allows for versatility in the types of shots and subjects.
The main specs are:
– 20.3MP APS-C sensor
– ISO 100 – 25600
– Full HD video capture at 50, 25 and 24p
– 768k-dot AMOLED touchscreen
If your interested in a full review:- SAMSUNG NX300
As for what we think, for the money this is a great little camera. It has the ability to produce some really dynamic and professional shots. The colour reproduction is great and the auto focus is exceptionally responsive. Also, the movable touch screen really lets you get some great angles. But if you are looking for something that can take super-fast or snappy low light shots, this is not for you. We find that it struggles in low light situations, particularly when the subject is moving. Luckily, buildings don’t tend to move about that much!
You may have noticed a little ‘modification/addition’ in the form of a mini tripod. This also folds up into a useful little handle, great if you haven’t brought along a full size tripod.
Now this little piece of kit is magic. It can take 360 degree photos & video in 1920x1280HD. When mounted to a tripod and placed at the center of a given space, it can provide a truly immersive experience. Great for condition surveys and as builts alike.
So far we’ve found that its simple to use, easy to set up, but the battery really could be better. We predict that you’ll be seeing 360 cameras more and more over the next few years.
No surveyor should every leave the office without one. The Leica X310 Disto is to us, the best value for money disto around. You get all the quality you’d expect from Leica, along with some extra features that the lower end distos lack, but without some of the super-high end features that most of us just don’t need.
One complaint we do have is, again as with most things electronic and portable, the battery usage is a little on the high side compared to some of the more simple distos Leica provides.
Something else we almost always bring along to any survey or even site meeting is our trusty little Leica LINO L2 laser level. Great for recording floor level differences and the like.
Mount these instruments to a tripod like the TRI70 or TRI100 (both of which are in our kit bag) and you have a powerful set of measuring tools, if you know what your doing.
*FYI – We’re not sponsored by Leica, but if a Leica rep is passing by. An S910 or D810 would be lovely.
The structure sensor is a great little gadget for quickly capturing objects in 3D. If you’d like to know more about how it works, structure.io has all you need to know.
We’ve used the word ‘gadget’ deliberately, as compared to professional 3D capture hardware like those manufactured by FARO, the Structure Sensor is light years behind. But if you need to grab a little piece of architectural detail to add in to a 3D model prior to rendering, it can be very handy to have this in your kit bag.
Another great little gizmo to have on you as a surveyor or designer is this little thing. The NIX colour sensor does exactly what you would expect, it can accurately detect the colour of almost any surface and record the data to your smart phone (It will even let you know where the closest place is that can mix paint for you!). Very handy for matching objects, materials and surfaces to RGB, CMYK or Hex colours.
Now here is a controversial but exceptionally useful piece of kit.
Our DJI Phantom 3 Professional allows for capture of up to 4K video footage at 30fps and 12 megapixel stills that provide an amazingly clean, crisp and dynamic images with over a 90 degree field of view, all shot from a 3 axis gimbal, ensuring perfect stability. Extra batteries are a must for this piece of equipment, even though each battery can supply up to 24mins of flight time, in our experience in the real world you’ll see 20, but will want to keep 5 of that in reserve just in case. This amazingly stable and advance piece of equipment also allows for topographical data acquisition using specialized software, which can be used to generate site maps or even 3D scale models.
But do think that anyone can go and buy one of these and start working the next day, because you can’t (sorry). At the moment (as of 20/05/16) it is illegal to conduct aerial works without a license from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
So there you have it, a quick run through of the tools we use day to day. Obviously this doesn’t include software etc, but we’ll leave that for another day.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article. If you found it useful, we’d really appreciate it if you’d ‘like’ and ‘follow’ clockworklime.com.
‘Laser Scanning’ & ‘3D Surveying’ read as though they’re from an Isaac Asimov novel, and tend to invoke images similar to those seen in the film Prometheus, of a floating ball firing lasers in all directions.
Although technology isn’t quite there yet, I think those who aren’t already familiar with the discipline might be surprised to know how close imagination is to reality.
In very simple terms, the majority of today’s laser scanning instruments work similarly to a total station or a high end disto, in that they use a laser and some clever maths to judge distance, direction and elevation to identify a point in 3D space.
Where the laser scanner really takes the lead is in the sheer amount of points it can record in a relatively short time frame. This mass points allows for the creation of point clouds, where several individual scans are stitched together to create an accurate model of the scan target and it’s surroundings. These point clouds can (amongst other things) then be used to take measurements, generate renderings and create very high accuracy drawings.
So why would you want to use one?
The reasons (in my perhaps bias opinion) are extensive, but two key selling points are; if used correctly, these instruments capture the world in 3D accurately and effectively. It’s almost like bringing the site back to the office with you, almost.
Here are just a few things I use ours for:
- Floor plans
- Topographical surveys
- Heritage Surveys
So…. sold on 3D Scanning yet? Wait a moment. As with anything, these instruments do have their drawbacks. The top four for me being; weather resistance, mirrors, range and cost.
Firstly, weather resistance, or lack thereof dependent on the model. Although it is definitely possible to conduct a laser survey in the rain, I would recommend waiting for the weather to clear up. As amongst other things, point data can become degraded, as the wet reflective surfaces can interfere with the laser.
Which brings us neatly on to mirrors. Laser scanners hate mirrors. As the measurement of each point is reliant on the accurate calculation of a laser beams flight, mirrors pose a bit of a challenge. As when the laser is reflected off a mirror, the instrument can return some very ‘interesting’ results. For example, I’ve seen large areas replicated ‘through’ a mirror and positioned several meters down the road, just because it wasn’t covered correctly.
Next, range. It’s a little ‘apples say hi to oranges’ and is completely dependent on the instrument. But as a rule of thumb, a scanner’s effective range will not match that of a total station’s. Particularly one in the same price bracket. For example, the X330 scanner from Faro boasts an extra-long range of 330m, but a FlexLine TS06plus total station from Leica at less than a quarter of the price can survey in excess of 1000m.
Finally, cost. Yes, I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now, these instruments aren’t cheap. For example, at the time of writing this article the previously mentioned X330 laser scanner from Faro would set you back over £41,000 (inc. VAT) and this doesn’t include all of the ancillary kit/software required to start scanning.
So, in conclusion. Laser scanning may not be a replacement for the more traditional measuring techniques and instruments in all situations, but it is an extremely effective way to measure at very accurate levels.
If you have any questions regarding this article, or have a project in mind that you think the Laser Scanning team at CLOCKWORKLIME.com could help you with. Please feel free to get in touch.
Thank you for taking the time to read this piece, but please note, this article has been written form experience and is in no way infallible. I would be happy to hear and learn from others experience if offered.