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Falling Through the Ceiling

Vaughn J. Mantor | February 26, 2023

The Situation

An investor is interested in a century-old building of 13,720 square feet, the former St. John’s Masonic Lodge in DeLand, Florida, a small town South West of Daytona Beach and North East of Orlando.

The semi-secret history of the Masons, the peculiar construction, the building’s shady, fuzzy history, rumors of crimes committed, the presence of the Ku Klux Klan, and stories of ghosts and the paranormal have attracted all sorts of curious folk, investigators of the paranormal, and Dr. Peter Venkman wannabes.

As of 2020 From the ghost hunters' website

Built of brick in 1925-26, for $55,000, after only two years, the lodge was sold because the Masons went bankrupt. Very little is known about the building’s uses between 1928 and 2001, when it was sold to another investor who gave up part way through the renovations and sold it again. Through its history, the lodge sat empty more than once. To say the interior is dilapidated is a kindness.

The Problem

As you can imagine, original measured drawings don’t exist, and if they did exist, they would not be worth much; the building has suffered neglect and many changes in the past 98+ years. As a part of due diligence, the investor must estimate the cost of all the alterations needed to bring the building up to code, (See our article, Code Cost) and to make it suitable for occupancy and the investor’s intentions.

The investor engaged Latamec, LLC to assist in the due diligence. As a part of the research, Latamec called three different engineers whose task was to take some measurements in the attic and make measured drawings to determine if the structure could support modern HVAC equipment and such other equipment as needed.

All three engineers said, “No, thank you.” One said, “Nope, I’ve already fallen through the ceiling of that building.”

Scrambling around the attic to take a few dozen measurements was simply a risk the engineers would not take. Latamec was stymied.

The Solution

At a loss for what to do next, Latamec sought the advice of Johnson Nathan Strohe architects, and they recommended Verify3D. In a few hours, with minimal risk, Verify3D scanned the attic, and much of the rest of the building, and a few days later, Verify 3D delivered an accurately measured, virtual duplicate of the space and a CAD (Revit) model. From the scanning data, any 2-dimensional drawing can be derived with a few mouse clicks. Any 3-dimensional CAD model can also be built, but such requires the skill of a drafter or modeler.

Above: An image of laser scanning data that’s been formed into a virtual duplicate of the attic space.

Below: An image of laser scanning data of the ventilation fan in the attic.

Both images are in false color. Images derived from laser scanning can be color coded depending on several parameters; in these images, the color coding was dependent on reflectivity, i.e. how much of the laser beam was reflected back to the scanner. The color coding can reveal characteristics of the materials that are not visible to the naked eye.

Below are two images of the CAD (Revit) model built for Latamec.

One conclusion is inescapable: engineers crawling about the building would not have been able to collect enough accurate measurements to build such a CAD model in the time and cost available.

A second conclusion: only skilled technicians, using superior laser scanning equipment, could deliver such an accurate, detailed model.

Laser scanning completely changes the safety considerations as well as the time and cost of evaluation. (See our article, Hot, Cold, Far, Dangerous)

According to Latamec’s representative, the results were superb. The time and cost of getting the measurements was comparable to that of getting a just few measurements manually, and the data derived from scanning was so much more valuable. “It solved the mystery. The investor can make a solid decision.”

And we can add that the data will be useful for nearly everyone – owners, architects, engineers, constructors, et al. – who work on the project, even those who need measurements accurate to a few millimeters.

The Salient Points

1. Laser scanning reduces or eliminates risk, both physical and financial.

2. Laser scanning gives more accurate measurements and millions more measurements than any other method.

3. Laser scanning saves time and money.

4. Laser scanning produces data that are useful throughout the project.

5. Laser scanning produces data not otherwise available at all.

If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you or if you’d like to speak with one of our clients, see our contact information below.

Because our experience in this technology dates to 2002, Verify 3D knows the most appropriate equipment to use on each project and how to use it for the best benefit to our clients. For this project we used a Leica laser scanner, a P-30, and Leica Cyclone software for registration. Per contract, Verify 3D delivered ReCap point clouds, TruViews, and a Revit model.

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