Can Canvas scan a space that is still under construction or partially built?

The Short Answer

Yes! Canvas was not optimized for this purpose, but we do have customers that use Canvas to regularly scan spaces like this, even if it's just framed. Here is an example: 

The Long Answer

There are a handful of things to keep in mind when using Canvas to tackle this kind of space:

Sunlight Interference

If the walls are not fully built and exterior-facing, you may get a lot of very bright, direct sunlight coming into the space. This can interfere with the performance of most 3D sensors. You can read more about how to handle this here.

Errant Geometry

If the walls are just frames, Canvas will scan into the next room, which can create a messier looking scan because there's a lot of geometry beyond the room you're scanning.

Difficulty Tracking

If the wall is just frames, there is less actual geometry in the scene for Canvas to use for tracking - so you may find that the model being built as you're scanning can jitter or "slip." This can make the scan (and therefore the resulting CAD file) less accurate, so if you notice it happen, you'll want to re-scan.

Scan To CAD Oversimplification

Some "partially built" elements of the room might get oversimplified in CAD format vs. the scan. For example, a concrete wall that has many small depressions from damage over the years may appear as just a normal flat wall, piping, or heavy electrical wiring may not show up in your CAD file. Additionally, if frames are similar but not identical in thickness, you may find that they are oversimplified to be the same, or that the count of frames is not 100% exact.


As you move around an area creating your 3D model, Canvas needs to maintain a sense of where you are in the model being built. It does this in part by comparing each image frame (and its details) to the next as you move — known in computer vision as "tracking." When there are no discernible differences from frame to frame, tracking can suffer, and Canvas loses track of where you are in the scan you've created. This can happen when it's too dark (all image frames look black), or too bright and the camera becomes overexposed (you only see blank white on-screen). This is actually the same reason why you need to remember to keep features in view while scanning, and shouldn't scan a blank white wall up close — all frames will simply be plain white. In a partially built space, you may deal with these scenarios more often.


Any of these issues can cause accuracy to be slightly worse than our typical expected tolerances, which we outline here: What kind of accuracy can I expect from Canvas?

All that being said, generally, the customers that we have worked with that use Canvas for scanning partially-built or under-construction spaces have been happy with the results. More often than not, the biggest issue is keeping other people at the construction site out of the room when you're scanning!