Picture Perfect

Mountain States Construction

Photographic documentation provides high-res clarity to commercial projects

By Daniel T. DeCristoforo

Founded in 2003, Multivista is already a recognized leader in photographic construction documentation for projects ranging from high-rise office buildings to bridges to single-family homes.

Working from 37 offices throughout North America, Multivista has documented approximately 100 million sq ft on more than 20,000 projects. The company opened its first Colorado office in mid-2008.

High-resolution images taken onsite are indexed (identified and organized) according to their position on interactive blueprints and floor plans created by Multivista using proprietary software. This comprehensive photographic record of construction activity and systems installation is quickly and easily accessed by users. On larger projects, as many as 500,000 overlapping images are recorded using advanced digital cameras and lenses to achieve 100% coverage. Indexing is accomplished within 24 hours of each photo shoot. Photographers are OSHA certified for onsite work.

Multivista Exact-Built photographs of building sites before groundbreaking provide an accurate look at the condition of neighboring buildings, streetscaping, sidewalks, curbs, streets and parking that could be impacted by construction-zone activity. Zoom-in functionality provides an extraordinary level of detail.

In the Phoenix area, a general contractor was slapped with a $96,000 bill for damage allegedly done to surrounding streets and sidewalks, but after showing Exact-Built’s (image database) preconstruction site survey, the owner and general contractor exonerated themselves within 24 hours by demonstrating that the conditions identified were pre-existing.

Trammell Crow Co., project manager for the new Colorado Judicial Complex, used pre-demolition photographs of the old judicial building (on 13th Avenue, between Broadway and Lincoln) to capture a historic mural being dismantled, judges’ benches removed from courtrooms for reuse and of centuries-old law books. Multivista will be documenting the construction portion of the project for Mortensen Construction of Denver, the general contractor.

In another instance, an HOA had prepared a class-action lawsuit alleging that the contractor had failed to install blue board in the kitchens of 220 condo units. Fortunately, before destructive discovery could proceed, the contractor produced Exact-Built images showing blue-board installation in all but one unit.

On typical jobs, walls, ceilings, floors, roofs and MEP installations are photographed at regular intervals and the images numbered, date-stamped, indexed and stored on a secure password-protected website, with access set to meet user needs. The result is a virtual time-lapse photographic record of construction and installation accessible from anywhere that Internet connectivity exists.

“Multivista’s performance has at times pushed the contractor to remain on schedule and has definitely increased the overall quality of the work produced,” says Phil Ellsworth, senior project manager at Parsons’ Phoenix office.

Multivista recently documented Vail’s Solaris Residences—a new 520,000-sq-ft high-rise with 79 luxury condos plus two levels of retail and parking—for The Weitz Co. of Denver, construction manager. “The owners used ‘shooting progressions’ taken before wall-in as a sales tool, but images of every wall, ceiling and floor provide a complete installation history, including plumbing for radiant heating,” says Kevin Burk, Weitz superintendent for mechanical and engineering rough-in.

“Multivista photographers were onsite at least twice a week for more than a year. Exterior progressions were shot from over 100 vantage points. It’s a fantastic system. Condo owners want last-minute changes, electrical connections get done incorrectly, fixtures are inadvertently covered, etc.

“Three mouse clicks within Exact-Built provides precisely the information needed to quickly address such issues without having to resort to destructive discovery.”

Years after completion, Multivista’s virtual X-ray system, with its perfect memory of where, when and how work was performed, is able to clearly identify faulty installations and provide as-built images for maintenance and renovation.

“Thirty percent of top contractors in the U.S. already use Multivista’s Exact-Built services,” says Jon Cohen, Multivista’s president. “It’s a powerful resource for addressing issues regarding RFIs, quality, troubleshooting, maintenance, project planning, scheduling, litigation, warranty, change orders and schedule delays.

“The system holds your entire team, including trades, accountable and provides the ultimate in transparency to ensure that you are getting exactly what you have paid for.”

With the capability to provide virtual walk-throughs of projects for owners, architects, engineers, consultants and others in remote locations, Exact Built improves and accelerates communication and collaboration. It offers all the real-time advantages and travel-cost savings of video conferencing.

Pre-slab Exact-Built provides an indisputable record of installations such as post-tensioning, rebar reinforcing and plumbing for radiant heating before concrete is poured. MEP Exact-Built likewise records pre- and post-inspection as-built images of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems prior to dry wall installation.

Services are priced based upon square footage, duration of construction or project scope (how much detail does the client want captured?). A typical fee to document a $100-million project might be about 1/10 of 1%, or about $100,000 to $120,000.