Building survey solution for professionals

Testing of capabilities of OrthoGraph

OrthoGraph Case Study

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OrthoGraph is a handy tool for surveying, however, just all tools its use needs to be learnt. The purpose of this case study is to show the simple tricks and solutions that can overcome on some of the obstacles a survey project may have.


The selected floorplan was acquired from the internet and originally was used to test the capabilities of OrthoGraph. It’s free-standing arrangement of the wall structure and the floating function composition makes it a challenge to survey with any method. To simulate the proper conditions, instead of just simply tracing the plan, a 3D model was created where viewpoints were used to understand how much visual information is received on site.


In the following pages, a detailed description of each method will be presented and discussed. The purpose of this study is to show how OrthoGraph can be used in situations that may not seem to be possible to draw, or the method what we need to use may not be obvious.


1. Observing

Probably everybody who does surveys first takes a brief tour around the building they are about to map. It is a very important step as it gives an idea of the outline of the project that is about to be processed. However, it also sets the mind around the whole shape of the building that usually causes the first mistake people may commit. When drawing a room, people are likely to draw the load bearing walls first, or the ones that are more significant in the building. OrthoGraph, on the other hand, is a straightforward application. “What is seen is to be drawn“ and that means that we draw those surfaces first that we actually draw the visible surfaces that we actually see in the room.


2. Where to start

zenkepOrthoGraph’s sketch and tap feature is a very handy tool. It makes the drawing easier and more fluid, as the user just needs to draw rooms one after the other, merging them as they go. However, as all tools, it may malfunction if overburdened. Difficultly shaped rooms may not jump to the desired outline, and might cause distorted data. These rooms are usually the corridors or the core rooms of flats. Starting with these will not only make the drawing easier to construct but also makes the drawing more stable for the future rooms. Sometimes, however, these rooms may be very difficult to draw from one location, if such case may occur, try to draw the room from multiple locations. In this particular case, the inner corridor was drawn from 4 different locations.



This way instead of one difficult location shape four simple one is created that are easy to measure and reproduce. When dividing shapes always use edges and easily measurable objects in a way that the sufficient number of measurements can be measured. For example, in the first part, there is an edge that lands on the top of the stairs (indicated by the red circle) that doesn’t adjust to any easily measurable point. All other dimensions, however, can be measured comfortably that will set the floating corner to its right position.


In the second part, there is a non-perpendicular line that seems difficult because one of its corners is the same floating point that is presented at the first part. Since that corner is already fixed on the drawing with one of the dimensions, you only need two more to get the right shape. The way to achieve this is to measure the longitudinal length, then use the move corner tool to set the approximate position of the corner. Measure the oblique side followed by a diagonal pointing back to the starting position.


With this approach, the remaining locations can easily be drawn up and settled. The next step from here would be to start placing openings and the surrounding locations. In most cases that should be the workflow, but the design of the building dictates otherwise. The floating function arrangement makes it easier to just draw and measure each function group of rooms and join them at the end. This makes the corridor/hall part a void-ish space that even comes back during the survey. For this reason, it is advisable to set the drawing into the reference line only option, or set the difficult parts later to this setting with the property tool.


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As probably mostly done this last step was used in a mixed way.

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3. Pockets, stand-alone walls and location structures

Usually, the Location structure should be the first topic to bring up, as it should be the first thing to set up. Not so long ago, OrthoGarph introduced a preset location structure that makes it easier to handle complicated structures. When the first location is drawn, it is the first room of the first floor of the first building. The significance of this is the idea that locations are not just rooms but also grouping tools. There is a wider hierarchy structure than building->floor->room, but in most cases it’s enough, just like in this example. The reason why this is mentioned now is that pockets, shafts and stand-alone walls require a new location to be created.

For example, the smaller bathroom with only a shower has a stand alone wall to separate the shower area. this wall cannot be drawn into the room once it’s already created. To place it there properly requires a different approach. Consider the shower area a different location that is part of the main location, in other words, a zone. Before drawing anything, the first consideration should be that when and how to connect the room to the rest of the building. Avoid getting spaces closed from three sides, creating a location from them is difficult since the sketch and tap function requires two walls(three corners) to initiate. In this case, as it was mentioned before, the sets of rooms are drawn together and later joint to the corridor part.


First create the main location, then add a sublocation to it, by simply choosing the “add sublocation” option while the main location is selected.


Once the locations are set, it is advisable to think about the measuring as well some wall thickness changes may be invisible even though they are in open sight. OrthoGraph has an implanted measuring direction wich means that the adjustments  that will be made to the draw location are depending where, it is measured from. Therefore, it is prudent to measure from areas that are clearly visible.


Although it can be made with two separate locations, using a sub-location will give more easily understandable information. For example, if you have a sub-location added to the main location, in the report view the main location will contain all the data from the sub-location. In such case as this one draw the small location first, to make it easier for the measurements and connections to the other locations.


Add the main location and the measurements then use the property tool to hide the non-existing wall. Sometimes it’s better to hide it before measuring.


While measuring, keep the measuring direction in mind as it affects how the polygon is pulled or pushed. Smartly measured location may reveal irregularities or gaps that are otherwise invisible.


4. Along wall lengths

Sometimes the walls are only semi-absent yet do look stand alone, in such cases it’s easier to break up the wall into two or more pieces. The principle is the same as with the previous example, the only difference is the extra step dividing the wall. Wall division is a useful trick during the survey, such as changing the wall thickness, changing the wall height creating measurable points on the wall.

casestudy22The garage, in this case, is one with many parts where wall division proves invaluable. Since it has two smaller areas that are attached, the sketch and tap result may have some difficulties obtaining the right form.

In the case of misshaping try with different zoom or different drawing direction. Once the form is set, hide the non-existing walls. The bigger sublocation ( indicated in red) is connected with a wall that is partially there only. Use the add corner button to place an extra corner on this wall, adjust back if it moved out of the wall line. measure the opening ad its distance to the wall using the added corner as the anchor point.


When done, hide the non-existing part of the room with the property tool just the way we did it previously. Alternatively, use an empty opening with the same dimensions ( Keep the height in mind) to produce the same result. In case there is a wall thickness difference along the same wall use the add corner tool the very same way, the only difference being that instead of hiding the wall simply change the wall thickness in the same menu.





The rest of the plan uses the same technique all over the building. It may be a bit inconvenient to get one’s head around different drawing methods than using paper and pencil, but once this methodology is mastered it helps producing correct and accurate plans of each building that we survey. Such approach will decrease both the time spent on the field and time spent on the after work. Using a similar way of thinking will help you to find solutions to issues that seem to be too hard to give an exact precise solution.

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Mariann Bartucz

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