Enhancing the BIM process with 3D image capture

Prior to the digital age, engineers conveyed their work and collaborated through hand-drawn designs. Building inspections and site investigations were conducted using a tape measure, a pencil and graph paper. At that time, drawing by hand was the only way to accurately capture existing information and to develop new designs.

Advances in technology have since changed the way that engineers capture and convey information. Digital cameras replaced hand drawn sketches during site investigations, and computer-aided design programs, such as Sketch-up and Revit, replaced the practice of drawing by hand. These new tools lead to increased accuracy, efficiency during site investigations and design, and the ability to digitally store and reuse information.

As technology continues to develop, so too do the methods for which buildings are designed and their data is captured, stored and used. Revit has become the industry standard for accurately modeling new buildings and their systems in 3D – more commonly included as part of Building Information Modelling (BIM). Even with BIM tools, designers and engineers are confronted with days of laborious and time consuming BIM modeling due to hand-drawn measurements, notes and 2D photographs from the site which add to the length of the project schedule and budget. New technologies are emerging, including lasers and infrared beam scanners, which allow for data-rich information of existing spaces to be rapidly captured, stored and digitally explored.

HH Angus uses a Matterport 3D Scanner to capture existing spaces which is then converted into 3D models for our clients. We have used these models in a variety of situations and continue to push what can be accomplished by having an accurate, to-scale 3D model of existing buildings and their systems as well as the value it can help us deliver to our clients.

The value of 3D image capture and modeling for existing buildings projects:

1. Capture site information faster and accurately

An accurate 3D model of existing conditions (typically within a centimetre of hand measurements) through image scanning the space. This process can usually be done up to 60% faster than traditional hand measurements. Because the image scanning captures information in a point cloud, this information can be automatically imported into Revit, eliminating the need for manually entering hand measurements and reducing the time of creating the Revit model by nearly half. The BIM model can be provided to consultants, potential bidders and contractors allowing them 24/7 access. When the site information is available in a digital and 3D photorealistic format, the result is fewer questions during RFP periods and fewer site visits are required.

2. Capture spaces during construction

The ability to use image scanning to capture site information and create a 3D model at any time during construction can be very useful in a variety of situations. For example,  recording a snapshot of progress for contractor payment draws or to provide enhanced construction documentation to project stakeholders. Capturing the space when services are installed but before walls and ceiling are in place can be a great reference for reference for future maintenance and renovations.

3. Digital representation of spaces and assets

 While many newer buildings may have accurate construction data stored in a BIM model which is helpful for future renovations, expansions or retrofits, many older buildings were built before CAD and BIM was common. 3D image scanning can quickly create digital models of these existing buildings by vastly streamlining the time-consuming process of collecting building details by hand measurements and then subsequent manual entry to create a BIM model.

Information can also be associated to a building space or asset within a 3D model such as a piece of mechanical equipment or electrical panel. Information that can be mapped to an asset can include the O&M manual, last service date, information from a building condition assessment, and other types of information. This can be done for an existing facility without requiring a complete BIM model.

4. Remote access for facility managers

A 3D model can allow facility managers to ”walk” through building areas and read equipment information from a nameplate remotely with only an internet connection required. It could also be done from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. The ability to access this level of detail remotely can be extremely useful for troubleshooting and for organizations that have multiple sites spread out geographically. 

5. Future Developments in 3D Image Scanning 

Currently, point cloud data generated in 3D image scanning still needs to be converted into useable data to create a BIM model. This is typically an additional and fairly manual process. With advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence, research is underway where algorithms can be used to automatically identify structural elements and interior furnishings, elimintating the need for a person to manually identify these items in the process of converting a point cloud file to a BIM model. This could even further streamline the process allowing engineers and designers to focus on value-added tasks rather than losing time on determining the status of the existing building condition.

3D Model in Action

HH Angus has captured and converted over 165 of our clients’ spaces to 3D models. We were engaged by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Centre to redesign and renovate the Nuclear Medicine and MRI areas of their Digital Imaging Suite. During the first site visit, HHA scanned the area using the Matterport Scanner to create a 3D model of the space. This model has since been used throughout the design and tender process of the project, and will continue to be used in the construction phase.


Akira Jones

BIM Lead


Melissa Parry

BIM Specialist


Melissa joined HH Angus in 2016 and is currently in the role of BIM Coordinator in our Knowledge Management Group.

What’s your favourite thing about working at HH Angus?

I enjoy my role as a contributor to BIM standards and workflow development. A large part of my job role is to develop new BIM workflows and provide specialized training and support to our staff. It is rewarding to have the flexibility to work on many different BIM initiatives and have the support of management to implement these new workflows company-wide and ensure they are successful.

How do you contribute to design and construction here at the company?

I coach members of our BIM team and operations staff on many different aspects of Revit and BIM to help improve efficiencies to produce construction drawings using BIM software. This includes building parametric Revit family content, advice on how to handle scan-to-BIM projects, and working together to find the best solutions for challenges in Revit.

How has working at HH Angus helped you grow your career?

HH Angus supports professional development. I am encouraged to participate in industry conferences and training programs to grow and learn new skills, and achieve professional designations. Management on the BIM team recognizes our strengths and weaknesses as individuals, and we work together to grow as a team so we can provide the best service to our clients.

Why did you want to work at HH Angus?

When I applied for my job in 2016 I was looking for a company that could provide stability, flexibility, and professional growth. Since then, HH Angus has provided the resources and support to help me exceed my career goals. I have presented at industry conferences, become an expert with new technologies and achieved my professional designations as an Autodesk Certified Professional and CanBIM Professional Level 2.

“The sense of community here is really awesome. It really feels like the company cares about you, supports you and helps you grow professionally. ”

What are some of the projects that you are most proud to be involved in at HH Angus?

I am most proud of our scan-to-BIM services. We have completed several scan-to-BIM projects such as Toronto Western Hospital’s Powerhouse Redevelopment. For this project, we scanned the 17,000 sf powerhouse and created a Revit model from the point cloud data to be used for refurbishing and replacing mechanical and electrical systems to improve reliability. This includes the hospital’s central steam, chilled water and emergency power systems servicing the operating rooms and general campus.

Another project that stands out was providing our scan-to-BIM services to a confidential client where we scanned the existing infrastructure of their data centre using the Faro laser scanner. Using the point cloud data and BIM software, we provided a LOD300 Revit model of all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, architectural and structural infrastructure. The client used our deliverables for 3D coordination of their switchgear replacement project and, since then, they have relied on our services for multiple projects.

What attracted you to HH Angus, coming out of school?

I researched many other companies, and what stood out about HH Angus is that it has been in business for so long – over one hundred years – so it has to be doing a lot of things right.  And I did notice by researching and talking to people that the company is very innovative and forward thinking and this is something that I wanted to be associated with.  I wanted a stable and rewarding career so that I can be here for a long time, and that’s what I've found.

Is what you are doing at HH Angus what you expected to be doing when you graduated?

I didn’t know what to expect, but I expected to be working with Revit. My role today is not what I initially thought about because I graduated from an Interior Design-focused program where I learned Revit, and then I worked on a few MEP projects in school. I got my foot in the door with the foundational skills I learned in college, and then grew into my role as BIM Coordinator with the support of my BIM team.

What are some of the things that you like about HH Angus aside from the technical aspects of your work?

The sense of community here is really awesome. It really feels like the company cares about you, supports you and helps you grow professionally. Our BIM Team has staff across the country and we work to maintain a closeness with each other over video calls and having fun together with virtual team-building activities like 'Family Feud'. HH Angus respects my work/life balance and enables me to have flexible working hours, especially with half-day Fridays year-round. The remote working aspect of my relocation from the Toronto to Montreal went so smoothly that some folks didn’t even know I had moved provinces.

“Having a mentor helped me learn what everyone’s role was and who to talk to for different kinds of project work. ”

What has been your proudest moment here?

It was when I taught a conference class on Reality Capture. I worked very hard for many months to develop the presentation, a 14-page handout, and on the spotlight project for Toronto Western Hospital. A lot of hard work went into that, and it was really rewarding to present it to an international audience of industry professionals and to share my knowledge. This led to a customer success story with Matterport and another presentation at Autodesk University.

Did you benefit from HH Angus' mentorship program?

HH Angus’ mentorship program is very beneficial - having a mentor helped me learn what everyone’s role is and who to talk to for different kinds of project work. This helped me build relationships with a diverse group in the company and to learn from their advice so that, in my role now, I can help others looking for advice.

What inspires you?

It is very encouraging to see colleagues build their skills with Revit and BIM software. As someone who creates and delivers in-house training programs for BIM software, it’s inspiring to see our staff succeed after leaning something new and taking initiative to build upon those foundational skills.

What aspects of your work you enjoy the most / least?

I enjoy training people so much. Developing the training courses, trying to make it interesting for all types of people with different personalities and especially different learning styles – that’s a big challenge in developing a training course that many people will take part in. So, I try to make my training courses fun; we get a lot of good feedback and that’s what I love the most.

Do you have any secret talents?

I like riding my motorcycle in the countryside. That’s my favourite weekend hobby, and would be my everyday hobby but I have to work.

What skills or traits have helped you the most to advance in your career?

I would say it’s knowing when I don’t know something and asking questions, researching, being willing to learn. I did graduate from an Interior Design program in college, so engineering was new to me as I was starting out. It’s essential to ask questions and gain a good understanding of the task at hand to do a good job. Talking to people and learning from their experiences is invaluable, especially since technology is evolving very quickly and there is always a new workflow to master.

If someone were to ask you if they should apply to HH Angus, what would you tell them?

Absolutely yes! It’s a fabulous place to work. The management cares about you, your work is interesting and everyday there is something new happening.