There is a new technology that is starting to make it's way into the architectural marketplace. 3D Laser Scanning has the potential to become a staple in the diet of the renovation process for architects & owners. Scanned data provides an EXACT 3D model of the existing building in less time and potentially less cost than by traditional measuring ways.
As an architect, I have had the experience of field measuring dozens of buildings. I have yet to meet someone who actually likes the traditional way of creating as-built drawings. The process typically involves gathering paper, pencil, flashlight, building key, permission to enter property, tape measure, another person (to hold the other end of the tape measure), etc. It would not be such a bad experience if you only had to do this once, but it inevitably turns in to somewhere between 3 to 6 trips. As one that has been doing this for over a decade now, nothing would make me happier than not having to go through this process multiple times per project in order to get those 2 or 3 dimensions I missed last time out or trying to figure out which wall is not orthogonal because my drawing doesn't match up with my dimensions.
It seems as if 3D Laser Scanning might be the solution to this waste of time and money. The scan is created quickly (1 day) and then translated into a format that is familiar to me (CAD and/or REVIT) over the next week. Because it is perfectly accurate, I can finally trust the as-built drawings/model that I have to work with. Not only do I get to visit the site empty-handed (except for the camera phone in my pocket), it also allows me to visit the site whenever I want to. The technology has progressed so much in the last few years, that this is finally a cheaper solution in many existing building applications.
Because of the quality and bottom line, I expect this technology to become a staple among existing building renovations over the next decade. As the cost continues to come down, people will be more likely to introduce their practice to a new technology. I suggest everyone look in to it now, as it will save you dozens of wasted hours (in the field and at your desk) and could potentially save you thousands of dollars per project.