Building Documentation Industry Speaks Out

Buildings are multi-dimensional and so are the stakeholder groups that are involved in building documentation. Whether they are owner/operators, architects, engineers, contractors, surveyors, brokers, etc., these various stakeholders have long struggled to find a unified voice that could collectively support their interests and further their fledgling industry. That is until now.

In 2012 the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD) was founded to bring the various stakeholder groups together, provide them with support and resources, and to promote the building documentation industry. The USIBD is the first non-profit membership organization in the United States dedicated solely to advancing the building documentation profession.

One of the ways it is doing so is to provide a channel for service providers and consumers to provide feedback through an online survey. Results from this survey will be published in their Cornerstone Report, a quarterly review of select aspects of the building documentation industry to help professionals identify where the industry is positioned and where it is heading.

The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or replica, set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder and other significant individuals. The rite of laying a cornerstone is an important cultural component of eastern architecture and metaphorically in sacred architecture generally. Much like the way a building cornerstone serves as a reference for determining the position of the entire structure, the Cornerstone Report will serve as a reference for those in the building documentation industry to help identify where the industry is positioned and where it is heading.

This past week the USIBD released the first edition of its Cornerstone Report, a look at the current state of the 3D imaging industry. The results are based on a series of 21 questions posed to industry professionals. The following is a sample of what was presented in the report.

How often is 3D Imaging Used?

The majority of respondents (over 75%) confirm that our clients are only using 3d imaging on about 25% of their projects. That leaves a huge opportunity out there for us!

Where is the technology taking off?

The Northeast jumped ahead of the other regions when it comes to the 3d imaging business with over 10% more respondents working on projects there than anywhere else.

Who has the big projects?

The largest projects are tied to large client size (clients with over 100 employees) with 85% of projects valued over $100,000 belonging to that group.

Whats the most common contract award?

The largest share of projects is being done in the $25,000 area with a response rate of 80% confirming work in that range.

Ted Mort, the chairman of the USIBDs Technology Committee said the next Cornerstone Report is scheduled for release later this year in October, following an industry survey the month before. That report will focus on hardware products in the industry, including laser scanners. The reports are free to USIBD members and participants in the survey. Individuals who are interested in becoming a member of the USIBD can find member application forms on their website at

About the Author

John Russo

John Russo, AIA ... John M. Russo, AIA, is an experienced architect and entrepreneur. He founded Architectural Resource Consultants (ARC), a firm that has provided outsourced architectural services to the architectural, engineering, construction and facilities management (AEC+FM) communities since 1997. Under his leadership, ARC has grown into a preferred outsourcing partner and is widely used by many of the industry's leading organizations. With more than 26 years of professional experience, including tenure with Taylor and Ware Malcomb Architects, Mr. Russo has developed his passion for as-built documentation of buildings into a thriving award winning business. At ARC, Mr. Russo successfully led his team in a nationwide competition for a 5 year, $30 million IDIQ contract with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for Nationwide Laser Scanning Services. Mr. Russo is an active member of the Orange County Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), serves the AIA Orange County Chapter in the development and maintenance of the organization's website, and is one of the founding members of the Orange County IT/CAD Manager's Technology Roundtable. He also is a member of the BuildingSMART Alliance. Mr. Russo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton and an Associate of Arts degree in Architecture from Orange Coast College. He is a Registered Architect in the State of California.
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