Skip to content

Landform Surveys are excited to be part of the Lucion Group

Find out more

Conserving the past, protecting the future

Conserving the Past, Protecting the Future

The importance of measured building surveys in heritage and listed properties.

The UK is rich in heritage and history, evidenced by Historic England’s charter of historic and listed buildings. Because some heritage buildings are so valuable to society, they merit a certain level of conservation and protection.

In this article, we’ll be looking at the importance of heritage conservation, why surveying is crucial to this process, and how measured building surveys are carried out on heritage and historic buildings.

What is a measured building survey?

As part of the conservation process, measured building surveys are carried out. They provide both an internal and external map of the building and can be useful for creating 3D models of the building using CAD.

A measured building survey is used to acquire accurate dimensions of a property and can be instrumental in the conservation industry for aiding restoration or reconfiguration of a building. It also saves time and money by making it easy to avoid expensive mistakes caused by inaccurate data.

Conducting measured building surveys on heritage buildings requires a level of specialism and understanding that few contractors have. Because these properties are often steeped in history, and full of intricate architectural features, it is important to carry out the work in a sympathetic manner.

Very often, measured building surveys are used in projects where historic sites are being renovated or converted into modern residential buildings. In these cases, a measured building survey not only provides valuable dimensional data for the planners but also offers a comprehensive map of any characteristic architectural features that should be preserved.

During the measured building survey of a historic, heritage, or listed building, surveyors will liaise both with RICS accredited conservation specialists and conservation officers from organisations like Historic England. This ensures that the work being carried out is compliant and aimed at retaining the original character of the building.

Surveying methods for heritage measured building surveys

More often than not, a measured building survey on a historical, heritage or listed building will be carried out using 3D laser scanning. This method provides exceptionally accurate data, as well as a points cloud which can be used in REVIT and BIM applications.

However, there are a variety of alternative or additional methods that can be used to conduct a measured building survey on a historic building or site. These include:

  • Photogrammetry and structure from motion (SfM)
    Structure from motion (SfM) photogrammetry is the use of 2D images to estimate three-dimensional structures. For many historic and listed buildings, the surrounding area is also protected, meaning that installation of traditional surveying equipment like a total station may not be permitted. In instances where accessibility is limited, use of SfM for qualitative considerations taken from a distance is a preferable method.
  • Airborne Lidar
    More commonly used in archaeological surveying, Airborne (drone-assisted) Lidar can be used to map large areas, such as the grounds of historic buildings. This may be beneficial as an additional data set to further inform projects such as those concerned with renovating an entire historical site.
  • BIM
    Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a collaborative process involving the skillsets of many professionals. It can be used to assess design options, offer quantity and cost estimates, provides 4D construction simulations, aid in project, facilities and asset management, and much more. A measured building survey on a historic or heritage building can offer datasets to be used as part of the BIM Survey process.
  • CAD
    Similarly, data collected during a measured building survey can be used to create Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models, used for establishing a visual simulation of a building.

At Landform Surveys, we approach heritage, historic, and listed building projects with understanding and expertise. Every building is unique, and so is our method. We can tailor each survey to your requirements, whether you’re looking for a basic floor plan, or a full-scale CAD model complete with radiators, fixtures, and fittings. Get in touch today.