After years of retrofits, expansions, and renovations, it’s not uncommon for building measurements to stray from initial blueprints. These changes may not always seem to be significant, but when it comes to calculating building value, assigning lease areas, and planning new construction, accurate numbers count.
“Construction plans are developed from a design-forward perspective, but they don’t reflect the actual building as it exists in the moment,” explains Adam Fingret. “That’s where ‘as-built plans’ come in. They represent the building as it is at the time of measurement, which provides a very tangible benefit in terms of space planning, negotiating a sale, or determining fair lease and rental rates.”
Whether it’s a hundred square feet used up on one floor or a thousand square feet freed up from another, those deviations make a difference. The accuracy provided by as-built plans can help owners extract maximum value from their space while minimizing liabilities down the road.
“There have been a few times where we’ve been called into court to support litigation against or by the landlord, and the best way to avoid these situations is to provide good info in the first place.” Fingret offers. For example, he adds, “An owner might lease a space at 75,000 square feet only to have their tenant conduct their own space calculations 10 years later to discover it’s actually 72,000 square feet. Based on that 3,000 square foot difference, the tenant would be well within their rights to re-negotiate their rates and seek restitution for over a decade of overcharging. Alternatively, the tenant might discover the area is more than initially thought. Clearly, it would be advantageous for the landlord to know this in advance.”
As-built plans can also help property owners / managers avoid costly surprises during a new construction. Be it a tenant planning to fit out their space or an owner installing new mechanical equipment, giving architects and contractors inaccurate measurements can result in costly delays, change orders, and extra work.
By and large, Fingret says, it pays to work with the most up-to-date drawings: “When there’s good due diligence and everything is squared away in advance, these problems can be avoided and everything can go ahead as planned.”
Creating high accuracy as-built plans takes more than a tape measure and a pencil. Specialists like Extreme Measures rely on a mix of handheld laser devices, 3D scanning technology, and onsite mapping software.
“Most as-built services use this tech to capture measurements and then bring the data back to the office to draft their plans,” says Fingret. “What we’ve found more effective though, is developing as-built drawings out in the field. We actually have our technicians develop full CAD drawings on site. This way, we make sure we aren’t missing or misinterpreting anything. If we come across something that doesn’t seem to add up we can address the issue right then and there.”
Not to say that modern tech is unreliable, he adds, but after years of innovation and technological advancement, nothing replaces having a skilled person on the job: “It’s not just about lasers and scanners, it’s about the person. They’re the most sophisticated sensor you have on the job. When all else fails or the data is unclear, a professionally trained technician knows what to look for and how to solve the issue.”
Buildings, much like the people who occupy them, change over time. Part of managing that change is ensuring decisions are made with the most up-to-date and accurate information possible. And, in the case of determining proper rents, building costs, and project plans, as-built drawings are one of the most important assets a landlord can employ.
Adam Fingret is CEO and co-owner of Extreme Measures Inc, a leader in building measurement and BOMA Floor Measurement Standards. For more, visit www.xmeasures.com.