projects run on PlanGrid
Since its foundation in 1992, O’Mahony Pike Architects has been dedicated to creating the highest quality builds across both the residential and commercial sectors. With the introduction of the Building Control Amendment Regulations (BCAR) in 2014 across Ireland, the company was required to provide tracked inspection records to confirm compliance with the building regulations to the Building Control Authority, Assigned Certifiers, clients, purchasers and end users. The practice would take responsibility for coordinating the design, inspection and certification of building projects from commencement to completion, to ensure full compliance with building regulations.
Under the BCAR legislation, O’Mahony Pike was required to not only conduct inspections but track multiple processes throughout the build, creating a detailed digital record that could be easily referenced for the following twelve years. The business had previously relied on taking photos and manually creating reports with Excel but looked to find a digital tool to more easily meet their requirements.
O’Mahony Pike tried a stand-alone inspection software which offered a digital tool for the iPad. Inspection reports were created and then exported to be shared with the client through DropBox. Inspections would have to be conducted in teams or by one individual, to ensure that team members weren’t creating multiple versions of the same file or overwriting documents. This was not ideal for collaboration and, as the software was kept on the device itself, was creating inflexible methods of working, given the growing numbers of projects on site and inspections required.
Richard Burke, Architectural Technologist, recalls, “If an inspector visited the site the following day resulting in further revisions being required to any documents, the team would need to create and export a whole new file, and then upload the new one to DropBox. The whole process was really time-consuming.”
Critically, this system could create challenges in collaborating efficiently with clients. As Richard notes, “We faced a serious risk of communication errors, such as if the client used an outdated version of a file or couldn’t find what they were looking for. We did have occasions where contractors couldn’t get hold of the right report to close out issues, delaying the final completion.”
With the business continuing to grow, O’Mahony Pike decided to look for a solution that would not only support greater productivity within the inspection team and staff visiting sites, but also enable improved communication and collaboration with clients, design teams and contractors.
In 2016, O’Mahony Pike decided to implement PlanGrid to support their Ancillary, Design and Assigned Certifier services. Drawings can be uploaded to the platform and then accessed and annotated on any mobile device by users, with all changes synchronised back to the cloud, creating one source of truth.
PlanGrid stood out to the business because of its ease of use and stable platform. Richard notes, “PlanGrid has an incredibly intuitive user interface. Unlike lots of platforms, you don’t get bogged down following rigid protocols and that means it’s very easy to introduce it to a new user. I’ve been able to introduce colleagues to the basics of PlanGrid within 10 to 15 minutes, and they then head straight to the site to conduct inspections. But beyond the top-level functions, there are lots of nuanced tools in PlanGrid that have been very valuable for us.”
The inspection team uses the platform to log issues directly onto drawings, including notes and images tagged to locations on the drawing. It’s easy to create custom reports with low effort, including PDF checklists that can be shared with clients, general site reports or full inspections. As needed, the team can import tags from previous drawings and access past revisions, which are clearly labelled, for comparison. O’Mahony Pike has found the data analytics tools on PlanGrid to be particularly valuable for clients: “We can pool data on a multitude of factors, such as commonly recurring issues, the areas creating the most challenges and the number of inspections conducted. We can export and manipulate the data to present it in the most useful way for the client, and it allows them to get a deeper level of understanding about the project as a whole.”
Richard notes, “On the occasions when I’ve had to use other digital tools, it’s been a reminder of why PlanGrid is our preferred choice of inspection tool – and that’s a testament to just how accurate and easy it is to use.”
After two and a half years of using PlanGrid, O’Mahony Pike has seen the productivity of its inspection teams increase significantly. Richard notes, “Where previously we had to send inspection teams around together, or have one inspector completing every check, now two or three inspectors can visit a site at once and add notes to plans at the same time, with everything synched back to the cloud. It’s really helped to speed things up and improve collaboration in the business.”
PlanGrid has helped to engage the inspection team, removing some key frustrations from their working lives. The platform balances ease of use with powerful functions and appeals to everyone, from less digitally experienced colleagues right through to the Building Information Management manager.
O’Mahony Pike’s clients are also enjoying the benefits of more efficient inspections and, in many cases, are starting to adopt PlanGrid themselves, which significantly speeds up the inspection process. As soon as the team gets started on-site, clients have visibility of the issues they are tagging and can assign fixes to teams on the ground, without waiting for a full PDF report or needing to compare their own photos.
According to Richard, “The impact on closing out times has been impressive. By the time I’ve made the 30-minute journey back to the office from a site visit, clients have been able to start actioning and feeding back on the items. In fact, on one occasion the three items I listed had been actioned before I even left the site.”
Having benefited from PlanGrid internally, O’Mahony Pike has been recommending the platform to its clients for a number of months and has provided access to contractors to the software to make the close out of issues on site more efficient for all. The company hopes that as contractors see the advantages for themselves, they will adopt the technology too – making inspections even more collaborative and straightforward.
The team at O’Mahony Pike is extremely pleased with how PlanGrid has performed and is now looking to build on the success to date by standardising the way the platform is used by the overall office and integrating it with their ISO processes. Following PlanGrid’s acquisition by AutoDesk, O’Mahony Pike is also looking at how the platform can be used alongside AutoDesk’s BIM tools to deliver even more benefits for the practice as a whole, and to encourage further integration in the design and BIM processes.