The Growing Use Cases for PlanStudio

Updated: Mar 11

How creating a digital site plan can save you money.

Helen Hall - Executive Manager Marketing Strategy

During my career I have had the experience of being part of project teams that managed mergers and acquisitions for ASX listed property trusts. These transactions involved negotiating purchase of everything from sky scrapers, shopping centres to commercial buildings all worth hundreds and millions of dollars.

Many of the larger acquisitions required entire project and legal teams working solely on due diligence for the acquisitions, reviewing boxes and boxes of documentation for prime CBD real estate.

In more recent years, I moved into the Aged Care and Not For Profit sector as a Project Manager performing similar tasks but there was stark difference in execution. Gone were the teams of Lawyers and Corporate Advisors which were replaced with well intended and sometimes inexperienced project teams with minimal budget and impossible timelines working to save operational nursing homes from closure.

Much has been written about the problems in the Aged Care Sector, in fact we have just concluded a very expensive and controversial Royal Commission. Spare a thought for the thousands of aged care professionals trying their best to manage and continue to operate these facilities while carrying out the capital works programs required to get care facilities up to standard.

When I look back now at all the buildings that I helped on the teams assigned to assess, purchase and restore I think of how wonderful a few up to date as-built plans would have been. Especially for some of those older buildings where only after the purchase you would find huge issues of non-compliance including fire orders, engineering and structural failures, infrastructure difficulties and operational challenges.

One example in South West Sydney, a nursing home with seven different titles and seven different buildings and shared driveway that had been poured directly over a hydrant main. The hydrant design did not allow for compliant servicing to the buildings it needed to, which in turn, resulted in a lot of head scratching by building certifiers, fire engineers, hydraulic engineers, architects and town planners. Big money in consultants alone! That same site had two complete kitchens in different buildings because it was logistically impossible to transfer food without spillage from one building to another as the gradient of the shared driveway was too steep. It sounds like a trivial problem but the cost of running two kitchens was a huge for the operational budget and coming to a solution for this and the other engineering challenges, required an entire masterplan to be created for the site. Did I mention that we needed to fix these problems while keeping the facility operational? The solution required more money, more planning and more approvals. I remember my boss at the time saying "You can fix anything with cash and concrete”.

Now working here at Locatrix and witnessing the incredible speed at which PlanStudio is being improved, I can see that if I was back in my old roles (any of them) again, I would use PlanStudio to mark-up each site and gain a more informed view of the buildings we were to acquire, assess the risk of and recommend that we offer a significantly lower price for them, or even to provide the board of directors with a business case and risk assessment to demonstrate where a capital budget would achieve a better long term operational budget. With PlanStudio not only do you create a digital floor plan but you have a visual tool that enables you to see the building layout in relation to the site plan. With PlanStudio you are able to see not just where fire equipment is but you can also visualise networking infrastructure, lifts, air-conditioning assets, hydraulic information or any other site based assets.

Understand how your building lives and breathes and how to make it perform better. We refer to this method as creating an "as-built digital twin".

PlanStudio has been developed to automate the drafting process and has a complete set of drafting tools to enable the user to easily mark up a building. By using geotagging technology and visualising the mark-up process, the application produces as -built site plans within 99% accuracy before you leave site. These files then can be saved into AutoCAD. For me, PlanStudio would have provided a better understanding and risk assessment for the old buildings that I was preparing a business case for purchase.

Originally created to assist the fire industry in producing evacuation diagrams, PlanStudio is now a tool that can be used by property owners or prospective buyers in order to gain a better understanding of the assets they are managing or intend to buy.

So, whether you are a property portfolio manager, a facility manager, a responsible building owner or a prospective buyer, do your homework and make sure you know your building. Creating your own digital floor plan and site plan will take minimal time with PlanStudio. Understand what you are managing or inheriting before you work out your remediation budgets and maintenance programs.