Competitively priced BIM Modelling / Guaranteed quality / Fast turnaround

Competitively priced BIM Modelling / Guaranteed quality / Fast turnaround

3D Scanning's Integration with Building Information Modelling

Written by BIM Outsourcing
August 3, 2023

In today's blog, we explore the integration of 3D scanning with Building Information Modelling (BIM), revolutionizing construction operations and building information exchange. As construction professionals seek to meet information requirements, including employer's information requirements, the introduction of 3D scans proves invaluable. By incorporating 3D scans into the BIM process, construction teams can create comprehensive project information models, enhancing accessibility and supporting collaborative efforts. The combined BIM and 3D scan approach ensures precision and efficiency, bringing unparalleled benefits to construction projects

3D scanning for BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a method that utilizes 3D laser scanning technology to generate precise as-built models of buildings or structures. These models are then employed in construction, engineering, and architectural projects to improve decision-making, project management, and coordination across various disciplines.

Table of Contents:

What is 3D Scanning?

You've probably heard about Building Information Modelling (BIM), but have you ever wondered how 3D scanning fits into the picture? Let me break it down for you.

First off, what exactly is 3D scanning? In simple terms, it's a technology that captures physical objects' shape and precise measurements using laser light or structured light. This data can then be used to create digital three-dimensional models of these objects.

The beauty of this tech lies in its versatility; from architecture to engineering and construction industries - everyone seems to love it. It allows professionals like MEP contractors and design companies to digitally capture existing conditions of buildings accurately before starting any renovation or retrofit projects.

This means we're able not only to capture building elements such as walls, columns, pipes, etc., but also their spatial relationships with each other, which forms an integral part when creating comprehensive BIM models.

What challenges are encountered in a conventional process?

The conventional procedure entails taking measurements and creating designs manually, followed by constructing the project. Afterward, as-built data is captured manually, measurement sketches are made by hand, and finally, overlays and updates are done manually. Manual measurements can be prone to inaccuracies, illegibility or difficulty in reading. They may also be easily overlooked. These issues can result in safety risks, multiple site visits, and delays. Overlaying and tracing measurements on hard copies can be a laborious task that requires significant effort.

What is the Scan to BIM Process?

Scan to BIM involves using 3D laser scanning technology to create an exact digital representation of a physical space or site. This representation can be used for designing, tracking progress, or evaluating different options.

The Scan to BIM process usually consists of three main steps: scanning, processing, and modeling, which ultimately provide as-built results. To elaborate further, we can break down the process into the following stages: 

  • Determining the Desired Level of Detail 
  • Planning for Scanning 
  • Performing 3D Laser Scanning 
  • Utilizing the 3D Model within BIM

Determining the Desired Level of Detail

Before scanning, it is important to establish the desired level of detail for your 3D model. A higher level of accuracy will result in a more reliable representation of the actual structure. At this stage, you need to determine the building elements that should be included in the model, as well as the level of detail and any non-geometric attributes that are relevant. It's worth noting that creating a highly detailed model can be more expensive. Therefore, it is necessary to find a balance between data density and cost.

Planning for Scanning

In this step, we will address the task of determining and adjusting various parameters for our design. This can be a challenging process as existing design documentation may not be readily available. The parameters that need to be fixed include factors such as space resolution, angular resolution, accuracy, coverage, location, and other related aspects.

Performing 3D Laser Scanning

The 3D laser scanner is capable of capturing both the interior and exterior structure, as well as concealed MEP and fire protection installations. Using Revit software, the scanned data can be transformed into a detailed 3D model.

Utilizing the 3D Model within BIM

In this phase, the scan is transformed into a BIM model. This involves capturing the existing structure through as-built data. There are two main steps involved in this process: 

  1. Interpreting Point Cloud Data: The point cloud scan of the project is imported into scanning software like Autodesk Recap. 
  2. Creating a 3D Model: The scan is then visualized using as-built capture techniques. This model can be used for various purposes, such as renovating, redesigning, or remodeling different parts of a structure.

Benefits of Integrating 3D Scanning with BIM

The marriage of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and 3D scanning technology is a construction industry game-changer.

Better Accuracy:

Accuracy is paramount for success in the construction industry, and 3D scanning technology integrated into a BIM workflow can provide far more precise measurements than traditional methods. Integrating 3D scans into your BIM workflow provides measurements so detailed, traditional methods are left in the dust.

Scan to BIM enables the development of precise and comprehensive as-built models, which are invaluable in detecting clashes, conflicts, and interferences between different building systems like HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. This proactive approach helps avoid construction delays and the need for redoing work.

Point Cloud to BIM:

Point Cloud to BIM technology can also be utilized for the identification and mitigation of safety hazards, such as the detection of asbestos, mold, or other dangerous substances. By offering comprehensive details about a building's components and systems, it enables proactive measures to address these risks effectively.

Improve the overall Sustainability:

Scan to BIM has the potential to enhance the overall sustainability of a construction project by allowing designers and architects to maximize resource and material utilization, minimize waste and energy usage, and reduce the ecological footprint of the building.

Faster Project Completion:

No more guesswork or manual measuring, which means fewer errors and faster project completion times.

  • Another major benefit? Cost-effectiveness.
  • As they say, "time is money." By reducing on-site data collection time, you'll save big on labor costs. Plus, you'll avoid costly reworks caused by inaccuracies.

Challenges of Integrating 3D Scanning with BIM

The combination of 3D scanning and Building Information Modeling (BIM) comes with its fair share of challenges. For instance;

  • Adverse weather conditions like rain can prevent laser scanning from being conducted outdoors. 
  • Processing large data sets requires sufficient computing power and storage space, making it more difficult to scan larger areas. 
  • Finding vacant spaces for scanning can be a hassle in busy locations. 
  • Importing the point cloud and tracing off it still requires manual labor, although this can be partially mitigated with point cloud extraction technology. 
  • Autodesk's BIM software can be quite complex to navigate and may require significant expertise to use effectively.
  • Misinterpretations and inaccuracies are bound to happen. Blame it on human error or the limitations of scanning technology. Poorly calibrated equipment leads to wonky measurements, while inexperienced operators misread scan data, paving the way for future mistakes

How to Overcome Challenges in Integrating 3D Scanning with BIM

Solution #1:

To handle the data overload from BIM software, beef up your hardware or opt for cloud-based storage systems. No more drowning in a digital sea.

Solution #2:

If accuracy is a concern due to equipment limitations, turn to top-notch scanners. Say goodbye to wonky measurements.

Best Practices for Integrating 3D Scanning with BIM

To optimize the integration of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and 3D scanning, follow these best practices:

Plan Ahead:

First, plan like a boss.

Decide what data you need, how it fits into your model, and which areas need detailed scans.

Invest in high-quality scanners:

Get scanners that are so good, they make other scanners jealous.

Top-notch equipment captures more detail, reducing the chance of errors later on.

Ensure everyone knows their stuff:

Make sure everyone involved understands both technologies like the back of their hand.

If needed, provide training to avoid any "uh-oh" moments.

Keep your models updated:

Don't let your models get outdated like last year's fashion trends.

Update them as changes happen during construction or renovation projects.

This keeps everything accurate throughout the project lifecycle.

So, remember, integrating 3D scanning with BIM is like a dance - plan, invest, educate, and update. It's the secret to success.


  • Scan to BIM technology can be utilized to aid in the restoration and conservation of historical or heritage buildings, by offering precise and comprehensive data on the building's structure and elements.
  • Scan to BIM can be utilized to assist in the maintenance and repair of current buildings by offering data on the state and functionality of the building's systems and components.
  • Scan to BIM technology can also be utilized to bolster the advancement of intelligent cities and buildings. It accomplishes this by furnishing up-to-the-minute data on a building's performance and energy usage, as well as streamlining the integration of diverse building systems and technologies.

FAQs in Relation to How 3D Scanning Integrates With a Building Information Modelling (Bim)

How does 3D scanning help to reduce design and construction costs?

By providing accurate and detailed data early in the project, 3D scanning helps minimize costly rework and delays associated with unforeseen site conditions.

Is Building Information Modeling 3D?

Yes, Building Information Modeling (BIM) involves creating a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility in three dimensions.

How is 3D scanning used in construction?

In construction, 3D scanning is used for tasks such as capturing existing conditions before renovations or additions, verifying as-built conditions against plans, and aiding clash detection.

What are the advantages of adapting scan to BIM for as-built modeling?

Scan-to-BIM provides an accurate depiction of current structures, which aids architects and engineers by reducing guesswork when planning modifications or extensions.


3D scanning and BIM: the dynamic duo that's transforming construction.

Together, they bring accuracy, visualization, and efficiency to building projects.

The seamless integration of 3D scanning and BIM revolutionizes construction operations and enhances building information exchange. By leveraging advanced construction site investigation methods and effectively processing point cloud data, accurate information models, including the project information model, can be developed to meet employer's information requirements. This combined approach optimizes construction projects, streamlines processes, and improves accessibility, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions and drive project success. The introduction of 3D scanning and its integration with BIM create a powerful toolset, enabling efficient point cloud data processing and facilitating a comprehensive and accessible construction information environment.

By utilizing advanced construction site investigation methods, such as laser scanners, and processing the point cloud data obtained, accurate information models can be developed to meet the employer's information requirements. These models play a crucial role in project management, allowing architects, project managers, and other stakeholders to make informed decisions during the construction phase.

BIM Outsourcing, as one of the leading BIM coordination service providers offer a range of different services from BIM modelling to installation coordination as well as clash detection services. This ensures that our clients can concentrate on their core competencies while still getting a quality service.

Our office in the UK

Vinters Business Park, New Cut Road, Maidstone Kent, ME14 5NZ

Privacy Policy
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram