Introduction to converting PDF to CAD

Why can't scans be used in CAD?

Introduction to BIM for Contractors

BIM LOD (Level of Development) Definitions


Converting Drawings to CAD


For inputs we can accept all drawing formats and prints. These include PDF, TIFF, JPEG, JEDMICS C4, all scans and all common CAD formats.



3D CAD - Solidworks, IGES, STEP, STL, SketchUp, 3D DWG, 3D PDF

BIM - Revit RFA and RVT, Navisworks, SketchUp, Coordination and Shop Drawings in CAD and PDF

The CAD and BIM we produce is properly drafted by trained CAD operators with years of experience. We use normal architectural and engineering drafting conventions and layer accordingly. The files you receive from us will be immediately editable in your own CAD or BIM application without requiring additional work.
We typically work from PDFs or scans of existing drawings or plans. On occasion, we have also worked from photographs of original drawings. Send us the best copy of the drawing that you have. Clear copies are faster to convert and the price will be lower.

If you don't have your best copies to hand when you want a quote, send us poorer ones (or photos) and tell us that better quality copies will be available for the actual job. We will take this into account when preparing the quote.
We price every job individually. The primary variables we factor when we look at your original drawing are:
- How many lines and objects are in the drawing - this determines how many entities we have to draw.
- Clarity and Legibility - are lines distinct and is text easily read?
- Density of content - is the drawing very 'busy' with a lot on information squeezed in tight or overlapping?
- Extent to which there is replication - for example, can we reuse details or a wall layout that repeats across floors?
- Dimensional accuracy required - a construction or machining drawing needs perfect dimensioning but a P&ID does not.
2D conversions to CAD (DWG or DGN) typically take 1-2 days for one or a few sheets. Larger jobs do take longer. A set of house plans may take 3-4 days. An entire set of construction drawings may take a couple of weeks. There is a limit to how much faster a job can be completed by adding operators - we try to assign a small team to each job as this makes for higher quality.

If you do need a job completed very urgently please let us know when you request your quote and we will see what we can do for expedited delivery.

3D conversions (SolidWorks and derivative IGES, STEP or STL) are harder to predict. Quite often we have questions about interpreting the original drawings or specs. In these cases there is a back-and-forth between you and us and this adds time to our workflow. As a rule of thumb, one-off parts can be turned around in 3-4 days.

BIM projects (RVT) are usually more substantial. There is more set-up time required and revisions (when clashes are found) are a normal part of the process. For complete architectural projects, think in terms of weeks or months. Creating reusable Equipment Families (RFA) takes less time but, like 3D, often involves back and forth which adds to the time required.
In our 2D CAD business poor originals are normal. There are many buildings and plants designed 'on the board' and managed over the years by editing actual prints. When it's time to revamp facilities we can create modern CAD from scans of well-worn prints

Creating good line work in CAD is not normally any problem - our operators can usually interpret gaps and coffee stains. Illegible text can be more of a problem, particularly when it comes to dimensions. If there is any doubt at all we place the questionable text or entities into a README layer in the CAD file. This enables you to quickly see where you will have to do a cross-check.
This is a good question. In undertaking CAD work we are not acting as designers or engineers in any way. Our commitment is to replicate your original drawings in perfect CAD. So if a dimension is wrong or words misspelled in the original you send us we will replicate this in the CAD file. If we do notice an apparent mistake we will place the entity in the README layer that we create to flag issues. But this is a courtesy only - our services do not include correcting errors present in the originals.
We do scan prints when required. Our focus is on CAD and BIM - we are not a reprographics company. If you would like to send us prints for conversion please request shipping and delivery instructions. Send us a message.
Just send us your DWG or PDF title block template and we will include it to use your title block and layering.
We can either reproduce redline exactly as it is drawn or use redline instructions (markups) to update the content of the drawing.

If your redline reflects as-builts and you have copies of the original design or construction issue CAD files we can simply update these to produce as-built CAD files.

BIM Services

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling. Traditionally every discipline produces separate drawings and documention for a building. BIM efficiently centralizes all this information into one model. The idea has been around since the early 1980s but it's only recently that it has begun to move into main-stream design, construction and facilities management. In the United States, where adoption has been slower than in Europe, the benefits are being seen in new builds. There are several good BIM software applications. We use Revit and Navisworks.

BIM models are highly detailed. Components are objects, not just drawn lines, so IDs and specifications can be captured in the model. This makes it easy to export quantity schedules. And the integration across disciplines means clashes can be detected and resolved before construction begins.

Design and build is just one aspect of BIM - the model continues to be used for operating and managing the completed facility.

See also Introduction to BIM for Contractors.
In a typical project we provide three sequential services: 1) Creating the initial 3D BIM model from drawings; 2) Attending BIM Coordination meetings and resolving clashes with other trades by modifying the model; 3) Producing Shop Drawings once clashes have been adequately resolved.
There are many software applications available for BIM modeling. The common formats we work with are shown in italics below.

LOD stands for 'Level of Development'. The BIM forum defines it as "a reference that enables practitioners in the AEC Industry to specify and articulate with a high degree of clarity the content and reliability of Building Information Models (BIMs) at various stages in the design and construction process."

In practice it is a set of reference numbers: 100, 200, 300, 350, 400 and 500 that indicate the extent and precision of the BIM model as it progresses through its development. For contractors a BIM model to LOD 300 or 350 is usually required in order for them to build from the information in the model. A summary PDF sheet describing each level is available here.
Yes. We use the 2D drawings as the basis for a 3D Revit model. Think of building in 3D as analogous to actual construction. We start with the foundation level and build up one virtual floor at a time.
As we build up in 3D we attend or host coordination meetings. This is analogous to actual construction in that problems that have been discovered are reviewed and solved. The big difference being that fixes in virtual models cost almost nothing compared to a discovery during construction. We use video conferencing to show clashes on screen and discuss how to handle them. Meeting attendees just need a computer and an Internet connection.
Assuming a fairly typical commercial building, from receipt of construction drawings (ideally as DWGs) to architectural and structural BIM is typically 4-6 weeks. Then we add in the MEPF content over several more weeks. This is when we uncover issues and start holding regular web conferencing meetings to resolve them. It is possible to model and coordinate entire projects before you actually break ground. However, it's more realistic that just your lower level BIM modeling has been completed at that stage, with the final upper floor finish modeling overlapping the start of construction.
We quote a fixed price for your BIM project based on our review of your drawings and specifications. Our price includes clash detection, coordination and production of shop drawings, as required. Our team's many years of experience in BIM enables us to accurately predict and include the hours needed for clash detection and attending online coordination meetings, in addition to building the BIM model itself. This means we can offer an all-in fixed price so you know exactly what your cost will be.


We accept American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and ACH (direct debit). Credit accounts can be opened upon application. All our quotes are in US Dollars. If you are outside the US let us know when you request a quote and we will provide an indication of the equivalent in your local currency. We can only accept payments in US Dollars.