Introduction: The historic Aug. W. Smith building in downtown Spartanburg, SC was originally built in 1905. When it was built it was a three-story 24,000 SF building with an included basement. Harper was selected as the general contractor to redevelop the historic building into 45 luxury apartments with two ground-level retail spaces. The task involved a full building renovation, as well as extending the building height by two additional floors.

Challenge/Problem: Historic buildings pose a specific challenge of unknown structural conditions. Lack of existing drawings, multiple older renovations, and greater construction tolerances make existing building conditions unknown. These existing conditions coupled with the task of installing plumbing systems to support a multi-family development create significant challenges.

Unable to penetrate the existing concrete joists, each plumbing drain fixture required careful routing and attention.

Solution: To capture the existing conditions, we leveraged a 3-D technology known as a laser scanning. This allows us to capture the exact as-built conditions and in-turn allowed Harper to coordinate and install plumbing systems without interfering with the existing concrete joists.

Harper combined the architectural and plumbing models with the 3-D laser scans to determine if the plumbing model was constructible. We determined that, in fact, the plumbing could not be installed as designed. This information provided Harper the necessary time to work with the engineers and redesign the plumbing system to divert around the concrete joists and beams. Ultimately, Harper helped resolve these conflicts and installed the plumbing systems correctly with no rework or schedule delay.


  • We found 21 instances where plumbing interfered with structural beams.
  • From that we were able to redesign the plumbing system applying offsets around the structure and coordinated the toilet and sinks in the rooms above.

By finding the 21 instances, prior to construction, we were able to save approximately $50,000. This number is a rough figure of the cost in additional plumbing and structural work that would have taken place during the installation of the plumbing systems.