How accurate is 3D laser scanning? You may be surprised.

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Precision and accuracy matter when it comes to visual documentation on a construction site. After all, contractors and architects need to be able to source accurate data when viewing infrastructure, utilities, or interiors to make the right on-site decisions.

3D laser scanning is increasingly popular in construction because it produces dynamic, highly detailed renderings of as-built conditions for a number of use cases, including:

  • Documenting existing conditions prior to renovation
  • Quality assurance and problem detection
  • Progress monitoring
  • Creating marketing materials

But how does 3D laser scanning work, and how accurate is it really? Let’s dive in!

How does 3D laser scanning in construction work?

3D laser scanning technology captures data about real-world objects and environments by measuring distances with powerful lasers to fractions of an inch in three dimensions. That data forms a point cloud of millions of points of data that can be fed into advanced rendering software. From there, it can be used to produce interactive schematic diagrams of an interior or exterior with highly accurate measurements for any project.

Laser-scanned architectural 3D models allow project managers, architects, and property owners to view up-to-date conditions, zoom in and check the quality of key infrastructures like utilities and HVAC, and create detailed measurements. This technology is used to collect, measure, and document reality as it is — truly the next best thing to being there.

How accurate is 3D laser scanning?

A 3D rendering walkthrough from a powerful laser scanning camera may be visually impactful, but is it really that accurate?

The answer is an unequivocal yes! Leica Geosystems, a sister company to Multivista, has developed the professional-grade RTC360 3D laser scanner that consistently produces measurements with an accuracy of +/- 1 mm.

The precision is such that decisions on measurements and designs can be performed with a high level of accuracy that ensures you get the right measurements the first time. Meanwhile, high-resolution imagery allows you to stage a 3D architectural walkthrough of the job site – a time-saving feature and valuable safety measure during COVID-19 upticks. 

The goal is to create a digital twin of the existing structure, so you can access information related to the distance, area, and volume of the space when you need it, from anywhere in the world. 

What can you do with a 3D point cloud?

So, you performed a 3D laser scan of an in-progress build, complete with measurements of in-slab infrastructure. What now?

Whether you’re a contractor, architect, or property owner, there’s a lot that you can do with your new 3D point cloud rendering:

  • Scan to plan or scan to BIM
    Keep this valuable information where you can access it easily by scanning as-built measurements directly to plans or BIM using Revit or other software.


  • Streamline inspections
    Contractors can provide the measurements needed to speed up workflows, streamline permitting and QA, and fly through inspections.


  • Expedite remodels, retrofitting, and re-engineering
    Take the mystery out of renovations and retrofits by providing valuable information on in-slab utility placement and layout, original build condition of key infrastructure, and more.


  • Create marketing animations
    Provide prospective buyers or clients with a 3D architectural visualization walkthrough of individual units or in-progress updates on the job site.

Not only can you access and make decisions based on the cloud point data, but it’s also easy to share access securely with contractors, architects, facilities teams, inspectors, or other stakeholders, so they can see key information even if they’re offsite.

These accurate representations mean you can review and measure anything on demand, so you can document areas prior to cover up such as:

    • Pre-slab conditions
    • Behind walls
    • Underground utilities
    • Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems
    • Hydronic heating systems
    • Finished conditions


The ROI of 3D laser scanning

Your potential return on investment for 3D laser scanning depends on a number of factors, including how you perform the scans (i.e. purchasing equipment for in-house use or hiring a third party), the size and complexity of your projects, and more. However, it’s easy to see how 3D laser scanning can generate significant ROI in the following areas:

  • Your 3D scanned point cloud can help you avoid unnecessary trips to the job site for measurement and inspection.
  • Point clouds can also help contractors plan from anywhere, reducing administrative prep work for processes like scheduling and ordering materials.
  • For architects and project managers, scans can be invaluable for tracking progress and catching problems before they require costly rework. Multivista clients often save thousands of dollars by preventing rework.

For more on the cost of 3D laser scanning, check out our
Guide to 3D Laser Scanning Technology.


Inaccuracies are especially costly in the construction world. Poor measurements and missed QA can lead to rebuilds, retrofits, and lawsuits that turn a profitable project into a potential bankruptcy. Fortunately, getting accurate measurements and renderings is easy with 3D laser scanning technology, and can result in thousands of dollars in savings.

An experienced laser scanning provider like Multivista can guide you through the process. Multivista’s suite of technology allows you to mix and match services to meet your exact needs, so you can get the most accurate data for your deliverables.

See Multivista’s 3D laser scanning technology in action. Schedule a demo today.

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