Andrew S., a Senior Surveyor shared his experiences about using OrthoGraph, our professional building survey app.
What do you do?
I’m a Senior Surveyor within a team of 20 who value buildings for insurance purposes by applying a worked up Reinstatement Cost to a Gross Internal Area.
How “digital” are you – apart from the tablet that you use to run OrthoGraph, describe briefly what kind of equipment you use for your daily work?
I would class myself as a fairly digital person, as a member of generation Y I have a mixture of personal and work issued products but I am familiar with Apple, Windows and Android systems and process. From a work point of view I am currently using a Windows Lumia 650, iPad 2nd Generation (running the latest iOS) and a Leica Disto X310. For the purposes of the case study I borrowed a DISTO from our in-house measurement team. This DISTO was a D510.
What kind of buildings do you survey usually?
I survey a range of different buildings for a range of different clients. These include
large distribution warehouses, industrial units, trade counters, hospitals, residential units, commercial units, office buildings and public house buildings.
Where did you hear about our program initially?
I was doing some research into apps that would help with our sketching, when trying to create a digital plan we would normally sketch on site and try and recreate this back in the office somehow either by measuring in parts or sections of the building. Most apps in the market seem to be centred (rightly so) at measurement surveyors who may plot points and draw in incredible detail capturing windows, doors, columns and all manner of crevices. The time needed for these on site would range from 3 hours to a full day which for my role I do not have the luxury of having. In auditioning one app I researched, it involved me having to buy a full Laptop/ Tablet hybrid and pay for a dongle for £1,200 per user. Another option I had was the official Leica systems app which records measurements from a Bluetooth laser but doesn’t redraw your sketch based on the measurements, the output sketch therefore is not to scale and is little better than a hand drawn sketch. I therefore needed to find something that would not increase my on-site time too much and still have some use when I get back to the office.
In our office building in London we have an irregular room to access our goods lift which became ‘the test’. When downloading apps from either the Google Play or App Store and seeing if we could get an accurate app to measure/draw a sketch for us, this room became
the challenge. Orthograph was the first one to draw it correctly and to scale!
The room shape is below.
Case Study results:
What did you survey with the program?
The two buildings I tested OrthoGraph with were my flat (That I was really testing the program with making sure I knew how it worked), and an industrial building with about 80% warehouse and the rest office content.
Did you use external devices (lasers for your work)?
Yes I normally use a Leica X310 but borrowed a D510. I am looking at updating to the new D2 with Bluetooth capabilities.
How did using OrthoGraph change the method of how you survey?
I was able to capture details that I would never normally bother. It makes the end piece which you come away with a much more finished product that you can use straightaway. I don’t need to even measure my gross internal area, as I have a report from my OrthoGraph sketch, which shows me the area. It made me far more efficient.
Did using the app increase your speed of sketching?
It depends what you are comparing this to. It you compare OrthoGraph to a paper and pen and simply on data capture of say a simple shape then in my opinion it would be a close match in terms of speed. Where you have something more complex then OrthoGraph would win in terms of speed easily. Sometimes on site if you are measuring a complex shape you may even have to restart a hand drawn sketch if you are going around a room, indeed sometimes also the sketch doesn’t look anything like the actual building. With Orthograph you almost certainly get something you can actually use. Again if you look at the level of information that you can capture with OrthoGraph if you draw a sketch (with Bluetooth measurements) then it is much more detailed and crucially, more auditable.
Have you tried importing OrthoGraph survey files into other CAD programs?
I tried to open the DXF file in Trueview to check its accuracy. We normally measure in a program called CostX, which I have not tried to import the measurements yet.
Did you use any training material before you started using the program?
As typical with someone of my generation, I thought I would just work it all out, after coming unstuck and getting frustrated I watched some YouTube videos and everything soon became a lot more simpler.
What are the features that you used the most during your survey?
I utilised the sketching features mostly picking up windows and doors, which I wouldn’t normally do. The elements feature would be great if I was capturing that data but for what I wanted to do it wasn’t needed. It is useful to have the report function to clearly lay out, in a way you could use this if you were producing measurement reports which are client facing.
In your opinion, what is the most useful feature of the app?
Definitely the measurement features and the fact that when you put in your Bluetooth measurements it remembers the angles you have drawn to redraw the rest of the drawing.
Were there any features that you were missing?
I saw a few references to a Building Survey, this is confusing to me as it would be hard to use the app to capture all the information for a building survey. Where the app excels is the simple drawings capabilities – personally I wouldn’t need to capture the colours/ finishes/ types of construction that I saw I had the ability to do. I would be worried that as more and more features get added it would slow the app down. I tried to use the app on my phone thinking if there was an instance on site whereby your tablet died or for some reason you didn’t have access to your tablet, then it would be good to have a backup. Not surprisingly it didn’t look particularly good with words overlapping each other. (I have a 5.5inch phone). I also did have some trouble when trying to draw my flat room by room and i think this is because you are drawing room by room. I wonder whether you could have an option to not draw room by room and have a master outline option with infill partitioning.