San Francisco recently signed into law an ordinance making retrofitting of thousands of seismically unsafe buildings mandatory. This ordinance applies to wood-frame buildings built before 1978, which are at least three stories tall and have at least five residential units. These apartments are unsafe because an earthquake shakes the bottom floor that supports the weight of […]
Do you do structural, electrical or mechanical systems inspections/surveys?
We specialize in layouts only, the preparation of accurate base plans. Our LTS Survey Software is designed for us to locate and record visible objects only, to the level of detail required. We do not crawl up into ceilings, or into crawlspaces, nor do any sort of inspection or certification of any electrical or mechanical equipment. We can locate data and telephone jacks, ceiling lighting, etc on our Floorplans, and we do provide extensive photo documentation, including close-ups of electrical panels, equipment, anything of interest, but beyond that you would require a certified engineer.
Do you do site surveys? We need to show the location of our buildings with respect to property lines.
We are not land surveyors, which is the profession you require to locate legal property lines. We measure building interiors only, and any attached structures such as loading docks, decking, balconies, etc. We can prepare plans of small parking lots as well, typically parking adjacent to the building being surveyed. Large extensive lots would require a surveyor, aerial photography, or laser scanning.
We have some existing CAD files on our building, but we’re not sure how accurate they are. What options do we have?
We will not work with existing CAD files, as we have found the time and effort to try to update them ends up costing our clients more than if we were to just survey from scratch with our custom LTS software! This way we can guarantee the accuracy of all measurements and elements in the drawings. To verify others drawings means they would still have to be measured, but the problem becomes when errors are found, then deciding what is good and what is bad can become a nightmare.
Do you find a building’s RSF generally increases or decreases after a resurvey, and by how much?
As a general rule of thumb, we find that if a building is resurveyed to BOMA 1996 or 2010 Standards for the first time, there is typically a 3-5% increase in gross rentable square footage.
Obviously, such an increase more than offsets the costs of the plan preparation. Studies by the US Federal Government (Public Buildings Service) have found similar results.
Moving from 1996 to 2010 Standards would not result in as much of a gain, perhaps less than 1%, unless there were exterior circulation, which would represent a significant increase.
With the new Office 2017 Standards, we have found typical increases in RSF from about 0.25% to over 5% in some cases, with the higher increases occuring where there are balconies or rooftop terraces now allowed as Rentable space.
What is the difference between Rentable and Usable area?
The easiest way to think of Usable, or Tenant area as it is now called, is it represents the area within a tenant’s four walls, the actual area available to him/her for business activities. It does not include any common areas such as restrooms, hallways, janitor rooms, nor does it include stairwells or elevators (unless a private stairwell/elevator), or void areas occupied by such things as ventilation shafts or ducts. Rentable area is always greater than Usable area, and includes a tenants pro-rated share of common areas such as washrooms, lobbies and hallways, janitor closets, and building mechanical rooms. Stairs and elevators are typically vertical penetrations, and not included in Rentable. Under BOMA, rents are based on Rentable area.
What is the difference between the “old” BOMA Standard and the “new” BOMA Standard?
The BOMA Standard was first adopted in 1915, and stood for over 35 years until 1952, at which time it was updated in accordance with more modern building practices. It has since been revisited about every 5 years, usually simply reprinted, but occasionally there are major updates. Since 1952, major updates have occurred in 1971, 1980, 1996, and 2010, with minor updates most recently in 1989. All of these versions were Office Standards. When people ask the difference between the “old” and the “new” Standard, they are in general referring to the 1996 (old) and 2010 (new) Office Standards. Please refer to our BOMA section on this site for a more detailed description of the differences.
Since 2010, BOMA has released other standards, for Retail, Industrial, Gross Area, Multi-Unit Residential, and Mixed Use.
Most recently, the 2010 Office Standard was updated, and is now referred to as the 2017 Office Standard. Again please refer to our BOMA section on this site for more details.
Does BOMA apply to Industrial Buildings and warehouses?
The BOMA Office Standards (1996, 2010) apply only to office buildings, with or without ground floor retail space.
However, in 2004 BOMA and SIOR released the BOMA/SIOR 2004 Standard which applies to industrial space, basically any building with more than 50% of its space non-office. It is now referred to as the 2012 Industrial Standard.
How long does it take to measure a building for a set of LASERTECH Floorplans?
It depends on the size of the building of course, and scope, but the short answer is “not very long!”. Field work generally proceeds at the rate of 15-20,00 sq.ft. per day with typical office space, for floorplans-only, depending on the complexity of the layout. Lots of interior partitioning, angles and curves will slow down the process. Additional complicating factors are tenants (empty buildings go faster), security issues and availability, lighting, and clutter. If we’re doing full detail (power/comm, RCP, elevations), a surveyor will do from 5-10,000 sf/day, depending on complexity. Finishing CAD work goes much faster, as with our LTS system the bulk of the CAD work is done directly in the field! This is the beauty of our system! For example, a basic survey completed today can be processed and delivered, complete in final AutoCAD format, within 3-5 days typically depending on our current workload, including BOMA calculations.
Do you need access to mechanical rooms? Basements?
Yes, in order to prepare accurate “as-built” drawings, as well as do a proper BOMA analysis (if required), we need access to EVERY room in the building, including all tenant spaces, all landlord storage, and all mechanical rooms. We can only document space that we can get into and measure!
Under BOMA Office Standards, floors containing mechanical rooms only (eg rooftop) are included in Rentable space, and therefore very important to have access too. Also all basement and sub basement levels are important to document, as in 2017 the allowance of the lowest level of vertical penetration areas (stairs and elevators typically) as part of Rentable was introduced.
In addition, rooftop terraces can also be included since 2017, and should have access as well.
What about high-security areas? Are you bonded or insured?
We will work closely with building site managers and/or tenant management, to ensure all such issues are addressed. High-security areas will typically require preset appointment times, or even an escort, and present no problem. Security clearance, if required, would pose no problem, as all of our surveyors have gone through strict background checks. In addition, all LASERTECH Floorplans field staff are fully insured, ensuring your protection against such risks.
Do you charge the same for large warehouses, and industrial buildings?
Our square foot rates vary depending on type of space, and type of data being collected. So we will have a sqft rate for basic floorplans on office space, retail space, residential, as well as industrial. For large open areas such as warehouses, we generally prefer to visit the site prior to preparing a quote, but you can be assured the sqft rate will be much less for a warehouse! There are other factors such as ease of access, clutter, lighting, and suitability of wall surfaces to the use of laser equipment which may affect the pricing.
If you have to make several return trips to my building, is that going to cost me more?
No, our price is based on square footage. If we have to return several times to a site, either because of the size and complexity, or because of errors or omissions on our part, and have to remeasure or check areas again, there is no extra charge to you for that. However, if we are requested to return for any additional work above and beyond what was originally contracted for, then there may be an additional small site-revisit charge.
As well, if our surveyor is on site but delayed or prevented from working due to lack of coordination or communication with tenants, there may be additional hourly stand-by charges, at our discretion. This RARELY happens.
How does your pricing work?
Pricing for most office and retail buildings is based on the gross square footage measured, and the type of service (eg floorplans, electrical layouts, RCP, elevations, furniture). (For industrial buildings, see Question 1 above). Pricing may vary slightly from office to office, and takes into account all factors such as building size, urgency, “clutter”, design, occupancy, as-built requirements, as well as travel requirements (if any). For a firm quotation, we ask you to fill our our Request A Quote form on our home page.
Do you require an up-front deposit?
For buildings under 100,000 sqft, our usual policy is no deposit required, balance in full due upon completion and delivery of final plans. For buildings over 100,000 sqft, we may require an up-front deposit, and progress-billing. Final terms are negotiated as part of the project contract.
I have a building to measure, but it is not near one of your current offices. Can you do it, and if so, how?
Yes. We have a network of fully qualified LTS surveyors throughout North America. If there is the potential of a large project in an area in which we do not currently have an office established, we may use that as an opportunity to open in that area. In this way, you would obtain plans at the local rate, without incurring additional travel costs.
For smaller, ‘one-of’ projects, or urgent large projects in which we do not have sufficient time to setup a local office, we almost certainly have a mobile field contractor nearby and available to fly in on short notice to handle the field requirements
Regardless, you will find our total package cost to be significantly lower than alternative methods. Combined with our quick turnaround times, guaranteed results, and superior end-product, this should not be a concern. Any travel costs will clearly be stated in any proposal provided.
We’re on the East Coast, will you have an office here soon?
We have a sales office in Philadelphia, managed by Mr Paul Romas. We are looking into opening several other offices, but the most important thing is our surveyor team is fully mobile, allowing us to service all parts of the country with the same pricing structure.
Here’s an interesting article outlining the challenges of creating a BIM model on an existing building, for renovations.
The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) recently released: Office Buildings: Standard Methods of Measurement and Calculating Rentable Area (2010) (“BOMA 2010”). This publication is the latest in a succession of BOMA Standards, which have been widely used for the measurement of the rentable area of office premises since 1915.
The new publication contains many revisions and additions to the previous BOMA standard of 1996: Standard Method for Measuring Floor Area in Office Buildings (“BOMA 1996”). We are about to give you a glimpse into what’s new