Job site Measuring import into Sketchup

I’m like these guys. and I have a Lieca Disto, if I can find it again…
I measure everything in doing small building remodels. Every length of wall and opening, opening sill and height, overall room widths and ceilings (the Disto is great for high ceilings and eaves).
What I suspect (for now) in most scan technologies, it is overkill for the squarish simple plans I need. I want a clean rectilinear plan, not a point cloud. The plan is an approximation and I’ve come up with some pretty exact ones (everything lines up on the finished drawing). I just can’t waste time on slight out of square anomalies for the building itself, and if they are significant angles (I’ve done old stone buildings) I approximate those as well. (The minute dimensions are up to the cabinet maker.).

So I mean, I take it from the position of creating a simple clean plan or model with flat, mostly square faces instead of super surveyed realism. If you are conscientious in follow-through with your dimensions and drawings, with tolerances in mind, the existing conditions will be illustrated sufficiently.

On some jobs I’ve been able to use the computer on site, as in measuring rooms in a hotel, where they weren’t occupied, and the level of detail was high. But mostly I just run about the place with a note pad. Working with a partner is best. Go through sketch the space then one measures and the other writes.

And these days you must take a ton of photos for working with back at the office. You’ll regret not having certain shots when you are modeling.

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In my on-site work flow I take pics with a tablet and notate dimensions etc directly on to the images. It’s possible also when back in the office to zoom in to pick up detail. The original image is retained, and I import this into SU for a direct reference, colour match etc. I have done the lot - sketching, drawing direct into SU on site, scanning, but regard using the tablet / constructing the model in SU from scratch by far the quickest and most accurate. (Invariably of course, there will be one angle, part of a wall, whatever, that I miss, that will cause frustration.)

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Ha, so true. My workflow also begins with lots of photos, notes, a couple tape measures, and a laser disto. I generally make a rough plan view on paper pad ignoring scale and note actual dimensions on that, it’s fast, coupled with loads of photos. I sometimes stretch out one or several of the tape measures around some detail and take a photo with the tape in the shot so I can zoom later and see measurements. Then I compile it all into sketchup.

Then I make approximately 100 trips back to the site to measure some tiny thing I missed each other time. I think the number of return trips needed can be calculated mathematically as a function of the distance to the site and the difficulty in getting there. I’m working on a formula… trips (t) = distance x road quality x weather. If the site is 2 states away, up a mountain dirt road, in winter: guarantee I’m going back.


Some of my colleagues use a cheap 360 degree camera to shoot still images and videos of the spaces they survey. This helps somewhat, as I find that usually just the important feature of a space is missing from the photos I took on site.

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Ah, the 360 camera! Good idea - hadn’t thought of that one. I have one of those, so will test it out on the next job. Hopefully it will pick up that obscure molding profile that I was sure I got, but didn’t.

As @RTCool said, the price of a fancy scanner is hard to justify for occasional use.
I think documenting field measurements directly into SU is the way to go.
A laptop (with numeric keypad) and a video camera for photos and audio notation.

With all its expertise in the field, Trimble should/could have a scan service?
I used the Leica disto as well as some of its lasers.
Leica has a scanner for ~$17000
Trimble start with a triple of that

SaaS - Scan as a Service

I am wondering if there is an app or devise that I can use to go into a space and photo or scan that will have the measurements embedded into it. and then i can upload it into Sketchup to build the model.

I am trying to get away from manually measuring every wall, window, door, molding…

I suspect that if you are unable to read beyond the first part of the first reply then you’ll be needing one of those expensive solutions where for many thousands of dollars you get a device that does the work of one man with a tape and pencil, albeit less accurately.

Ok…well if you find anything like that please share…until then…I guess just grin and bear it.


Those fancy measuring devices are one of the things that Trimble do …

Like several others here, I use a Leica Disto laser measure (along with a tape, pad and pencil). Leica has two different Disto apps — Plan and Transfer — that directly utilize the captured measurements.

The ‘Sketch Plan’ and ‘Smart Room’ functions in the Plan app generate measured plans on-device, but I find it mostly unusable — due to my combination of old eyes and small device screen — though I think it could work well with an iPad. Until I acquire a tablet though, I currently sketch out room plans on paper and attach the relevant dimensions.

I use Plan primarily for it’s ‘Sketch on Photo’ function: where the measurements are overlaid on the site photos. I take a whack of detail photos with every conceivable unique measure, then refer back to them when I building my model.

The ‘Transfer’ app allows direct interactive drawing into AutoCad or BricsCad (or capture into an Excel spreadsheet). But it only works on PC, so I haven’t used it and can’t vouch for how it works.

More here:

I imagine an app that uses a Disto in combination with a laptop. Or even a scanner. But instead of just scanning points, a device set up in the middle of the room would identify wall surfaces, ceiling heights, doors and windows and (with some help from the user) record them in a rectilinear plan, even a simple model.

I have experimented with iPad apps but there’s usually something that makes them undependable and I just feel silly walking about with a tablet up in front of my face.

There’s some value in having the knowledge staff gains by going over every part of a building in order to measure and photograph it.


Depending on the job $$$ of course, there ARE incredible scan technologies, and they’ll be cheaper over time. SketchUp would die with just a tiny piece of the resulting model. I like where they send drones in that just keep searching the building until it’s all recorded.

I like your idea: that the scanner would operate to identify surface planes and build a simplified but accurate model from that — perhaps with the option to ‘idealize’ the model: i.e. making it plumb, level and square.

In fact it would be nice to have both versions modelled: the actual (imperfect) model could be compared with the idealized one and any issues identified that fall outside of a user-defined tolerance range.

I can see many advantages from the current 3D scanners, which essentially generate a massive point cloud — which then has to go through a series of transformations to become usable in a SketchUp context.

Checkout Undet:

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I posted pictures from the 3D Basecamp session on laser scanning here given by Stangl Associates using Undet. Essentially their method looked like tracing over the scan while building the model in SketchUp. It still takes a person with knowledge and experience making decisions while modeling.

That’s a good description of their demonstration.


That looks great!

Yeah, you lost a key, I lost my Stick of Knowledge at their preso.

This seems Sketchy: (3D scan for everyone)

You can hire a photographer…

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More recently, I’ve been using a combination of the Leica Disto X4 and Leica DST 360.

The Leica DST 360 mounts on a tripod and the X4 is attached to it. It does Point to Point measurements, and can measure an entire room from one spot.

It connects via Bluetooth to the Leica App, which I use in my iPhone. It does also work on the iPad, but the iPhone is more convenient.

The App can export DWGs too, which can then be imported into Sketchup. Full blown PDFs can also be exported, which give areas, volumes etc.

So far, I have found this to be really accurate for measuring the room.

For any detail areas, I take the X4 of the adapter and use it, along with a tape measure, to get the details I need.

Like everyone else, I take loads of photos.

Even with all this, I always seem to miss something though :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: