What Advantages of 3D Modelling Surveys?

Today, 3D modelling surveys have become a pivotal tool for understanding and interacting with our physical environments. These surveys, leveraging advanced techniques like photogrammetry and 3D laser scanning, produce detailed three-dimensional representations of structures, landscapes, and objects. The resultant models offer an immersive perspective beyond what is possible with traditional two-dimensional plans and images.


The relevance of 3D modelling in today’s world cannot be overstated. From architecture to archaeology, urban planning to industrial design, these surveys transform how professionals across industries visualise, plan, and execute their projects. They facilitate a more accurate and holistic understanding of spatial contexts, allowing for improved decision-making, enhanced communication, and, ultimately, superior outcomes.


As we delve deeper into this topic, we’ll explore the numerous advantages these 3D modelling surveys present in various applications and scenarios.


Understanding 3D Modelling Surveys

3D modelling surveys are a form of surveying process that involves the creation of three-dimensional models of physical environments. These models can represent anything from a small object to an expansive landscape, and they provide a detailed, comprehensive view that traditional two-dimensional maps or images can’t match.


The technology behind these surveys varies but most commonly includes methods such as photogrammetry and 3D laser scanning. Photogrammetry involves capturing numerous photographs from different angles and using software to stitch these images together into a 3D model. On the other hand, 3D laser scanning uses the time it takes for emitted laser beams to bounce back to the scanner to calculate distances and generate a dense ‘point cloud’, which is then converted into a 3D model.


There are various types of 3D models produced from these surveys, each serving a distinct purpose. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is used extensively in architecture and construction. It creates a 3D representation of a building and includes additional information like material specifications and cost estimates. On the other hand, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models are typically used in product design and manufacturing, enabling designers to visualise a product from every angle and even simulate its functionality.


The versatility of 3D modelling surveys makes them an invaluable tool across various industries, from urban planning to archaeology and industrial design to heritage preservation. A deeper understanding of what these surveys entail makes it clear why they have become an industry standard in many fields.


Advantages of 3D Modelling Surveys

The benefits of 3D modelling surveys are extensive and transformative, revolutionising how we approach spatial data and design. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Increased Accuracy:

Traditional survey methods often fail to capture the complexity and detail of physical spaces. In contrast, 3D modelling surveys provide high-resolution, comprehensive data that accurately represent the surveyed area. Every nuance, from the slope of a landscape to the curve of a structure, is captured accurately, enabling an unparalleled level of detail.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness:

While the technology behind 3D modelling may seem expensive, it is a cost-effective solution in the long run. It saves time by capturing extensive data in a single survey, thereby reducing the need for multiple site visits. Additionally, accurate data minimises the risk of costly errors during the construction or renovation process.

  1. Enhanced Visualisation:

3D models offer an immersive, interactive view of the surveyed area. Users can navigate the model, zoom in on specific areas, and view the space from different angles. This enhanced visualisation aids communication and understanding, making it an invaluable tool for stakeholders to visualise the project.

  1. Facilitates Planning and Design:

For architects, engineers, and developers, 3D modelling surveys provide significant benefits. The detailed data allows them to plan and design with accuracy. They can assess how a proposed structure will fit into the existing environment, simulate potential changes, and make informed design decisions.

  1. Risk Reduction:

One of the most significant advantages of 3D modelling surveys is their ability to identify potential issues early in planning. Be it a structural anomaly, a design conflict, or a potential violation of regulations – these can be flagged at the outset, reducing risks and preventing costly alterations down the line.

In essence, 3D modelling surveys are not just a modern preference but a strategic choice that brings accuracy, efficiency, and foresight into surveying and planning.


Michael Gallie’s Approach to 3D Modelling Surveys

At Michael Gallie & Partners, we hold the conviction that anything measurable is modellable. This philosophy has steered our approach towards 3D modelling surveys, a service our clients increasingly favour over traditional 2D deliverables.


Methodology and Technology

With a legacy spanning over half a century in documenting the built environment, we bring a wealth of experience to the table in providing 3D modelling services. Our proficiency covers a spectrum of high-profile projects, catering to a diverse clientele with various output requirements, whether CAD or the progressively popular BIM formats.

Our 3D modelling services are categorised into three primary levels of detail:

  1. Low Level of Detail – 3D Mass Models: Simplistic block representations that capture the fundamental heights of buildings without architectural intricacies.
  2. Low to Medium Level of Detail – 3D Rights of Light Style Models: Models that showcase the building mass with basic outlines of openings, roof structures, major roof plant housings, cornices, and sills.
  3. Medium to High Level of Detail – 3D Detailed Architectural & MEP Models: These models are crafted to client specifications, capturing internal and external details with varying levels of intricacy in different areas as required.


Unique Capabilities and Expertise

Our strategy is tailored to individual needs. We engage with our clients from the costing stage to tailor solutions that align with their project scope and budgetary constraints. We offer a bespoke BIM specification document during the costing stage to aid our clients in making informed decisions regarding their 3D model specifications and the requisite level of detail.

In capturing site data for our 3D models, we employ the latest laser scanning technology, ensuring all models can be related to the OS grid and datum. Furthermore, the 3D models are generated from processed 3D point clouds, and we can also furnish the point cloud in any industry-standard format in addition to the 3D model.

Our practice is regulated by the RICS and is backed by industry-leading £10 million Professional Indemnity insurance cover, reinforcing our commitment to delivering services of the highest professional standard.

For those seeking guidance on commissioning a 3D model, we invite you to contact us. We are equipped and eager to assist you in navigating your 3D modelling survey needs, ensuring solutions that are accurate and perfectly aligned with your project’s unique demands.



1. What distinguishes 3D modelling surveys from traditional 2D surveys?

3D modelling surveys offer a multidimensional representation of the surveyed area, providing the features’ layout, height, depth, and volume, leading to more accurate and detailed visualisations. In contrast, traditional 2D surveys offer only a flat representation with height and breadth, lacking the depth and volume aspects.

2. How accurate are 3D modelling surveys?

The accuracy of 3D modelling surveys is significantly high, contingent upon the technology and methodology employed. At Michael Gallie & Partners, we utilise the latest laser scanning technology, which captures accurate measurements, ensuring that our 3D models are highly accurate and reliable.

  1. Are 3D modelling surveys more expensive than traditional survey methods?

While 3D modelling surveys entail a higher initial cost compared to traditional methods, they often prove to be more cost-effective in the long run. The detailed and accurate data they provide can help identify potential issues early on, reducing the need for costly corrections during the construction or design phase.