An important tool in understanding and reporting on the history of a building is an accurate measured survey. Careful observation on site and the analysis of historic records are valuable too, but a detailed measured survey can contain vital clues and reveal information about the historic development of a building that is otherwise not apparent. A measured survey records the information that the primary source of information, the building itself, presents.
Accurate surveys are useful to interpret historic development in many ways, for example: understanding phases of construction through accurate measuring of wall thicknesses can help to reveal providence of certain portions of the building in relation to other sections; piers or undulations in walls have helped us to identify the extents of historic rooms previously; and, the comparison of floor levels throughout a building have helped to confirm the evolution of a house from one end to the other. Having access to digital plans allow us to overlay floor plans to compare lines of structure and identify anomalies in plan layouts, and using these plans we often construct a three-dimensional model that can provide an invaluable overview of the fabric and form of the property as a whole.
Not only are accurate survey drawings useful historical documents, they are also essential in developing accurate proposals. Having confidence in the dimensions and features of the existing fabric means that there can be confidence that the proposals developed from these plans will work. The later construction detail will also be derived from the original survey and a good survey can avoid discrepancies in construction or the measuring of costs, saving time and money later. Simply, an accurate and information-full survey is a solid basis on which to begin a project.
The survey drawings accompanying this post were all drawn by Paul Levett Surveyors. These drawings show an example of a building where accuracy is critical. It provides a record of the historic building but also reveals the irregular rooms shapes, structural layout, varying floor levels, as well as many other important architectural features. This information will be critical to anyone developing proposals for these buildings.