Bay Area contractor hits goals with as-built capture technology

Ethan Choun knows how much time a jobsite walk can steal from a project.

A project manager at Novo Construction in Menlo Park, Calif., made a laundry list of every time-stealing step: getting to and through the job site itself; ; Finally, compare what you see to the original plan while keeping track of the ever-changing project in progress.

But in the five years since he started using reality capture to create as-built models of job sites, Choun has seen a significant reduction in the time it takes.

“It’s changing the game. It’s getting a lot simpler,” Choun said.

Novo isn’t the only company using the technology.For example, North Reading, MA-based contractor Columbia Construction recently used reality capture software to Alignment of 60,000 feet of pipeline on a short schedule.

At Novo Construction, Choun uses OpenSpace, a program that compares images captured from a jobsite with plans provided by contractors.

According to OpenSpace’s website, the information-gathering phase of a field trip is relatively straightforward. Contractors use cameras—usually 360-degree devices mounted on hard hats—to record the progress of the site during walks. Once the footage and pictures are uploaded to OpenSpace’s app, the software builds a virtual environment from the images and compares it to the contractor’s original plans.

“It saved us a lot of time,” Choun told Construction Dive. Before adopting the technology, the biggest time drain was during the upload process, when he had to separate the photos into different folders and check their quality. With OpenSpace, photos are automatically mapped to site plans, he said.

“You walk and come back, upload it from your phone, and that’s all,” Choun said.


Part of the technology’s appeal is its ability to be reused and redistributed for different tasks.

For example, Choun cites one specific project — a two-story renovation of just under 20,000 square feet in downtown Palo Alto, California — whose principals worked on the original 12 years ago. building. Choun said principals wished they had an as-built capture document from the first build to refer to for the retrofit.

That may indeed be the case in the future, Choun said. This is important to Novo because it specializes in interior renovations and tenant improvements.

“It’s not uncommon, after five or six years, to be remodeled or renovated,” Choun said. “If we did that, now we can look back at OpenSpace and see where everything is.”

Novo will also use the technology to double check, such as making sure certain parts of the build are installed correctly.

The process is so simple, in fact, that Novo Construction has its university summer interns run OpenSpace during their internships.

“It takes five minutes, we show them how to do it, and they do it for the rest of the time,” Choun said.

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