Land Surveyor: Today and the Future

The profession of a land surveyor has constantly evolved. Basic principles of trigonometry are still at the foundation of land measurements, but the roles of a land surveyor, the tools that are employed and the governance surrounding land divisions have been a continuous story of change. Today’s successful land surveyor has found a way to survive the changes to his business that have come with the automation of machines. He’s not building muscles by pounding hundreds of stakes in the ground, but instead marking property lines and locating various infrastructures. Three-dimensional digital drawings are driving the machines that used to rely on operators being guided by wooden stakes that were placed there by a land surveyor. This recent evolution within land surveying requires the surveyor to embrace the changes that have come with our digital world.

Land Surveyor 2.0 must possess skills beyond land definition, planning and measurements. Weaving data from various sources into a cloud based resource is the new trend.

land surveyorThe idea of Surveyor 2.0 is not mine. I heard it at a recent conference where the concept was presented by Mr. CheeHai Teo, the director of FIG (Fédération Intenationale des Géomètres). FIG is the oldest continuously operating organization devoted to the affairs of land surveyors worldwide. His ideas caught my curiosity and I could easily relate his comments to the current state of affairs with surveyors I know myself. Mr. Teo stated that Land Surveyor 2.0 must Measure, Model and Manage.
What does this mean today on the modern construction site? For a land surveyor, it’s not about staking points and alignments anymore. The machines can cut the lines and trim the elevations to match the digital models without a lot of wood in the ground. It has become more about establishing control and setting property lines. According to Tim Smith of Professional Land Surveying Inc. in Southern California, the modern land surveyor has lost an intimacy with the land on many construction projects. He may see a project in the very early stages and then not again until it’s almost completely built. Now his decisions must be based on data and not experience. The data are not just his measurements, field notes and property descriptions; data cannot always be analyzed with maps and spreadsheets alone. Visualization of the data while applying a variety of filters is one method of bringing the data to life. This allows the data to be manipulated in new and useful ways.

land surveyorThe sources and the tools for analyzing data have been evolving alongside Land Surveyor 2.0. A familiar example of this is Google Earth. Virtually any place on the planet can be viewed from an aerial perspective and many places are even accompanied with ground based photographs that can be sewn together. Several surveyors I know today are using Google Earth to get an idea about the terrain surrounding their project site before they visit it in person. But Google Earth is not limited to imagery. There are various overlays that can be applied. Street names, public transportation corridors, bodies of waters, civil boundaries and other layers can be viewed on top of the satellite images.

For Land Surveyor 2.0, these additional data layers include all of the data and meta-data from his previous surveys, active and passive monument information surrounding his project areas, inventory of available tools, licensing requirements, employees availability, customer schedules, finances, change orders, etc. As you can see, some of these layers are related to geography while others are related to resources or administration. Land Surveyor 2.0 must manage and integrate these layers into an efficient machine that allows him to access all of the data he needs to make informed choices in real-time. What does this look like and how does a company get there? The road is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. Many surveying firms have found that the Esri suite of software products can help them achieve these goals.

In a perfect world, Land Surveyor 2.0 has all of his historical work digitized and organized. He is able to locate the field notes for any particular survey within seconds or minutes without the necessity of digging though old log books and paper maps. He can filter his search to look by date, location, customer name, type of survey, etc. He can graphically display his projects on a live interactive map. The projects can be displayed through various filters so that trends over time or topic can be revealed. For instance, Land Surveyor 2.0 is able to state what percentage of his business is devoted to construction surveys. He can dig down and identify key customers and regions within these construction surveys. The financial aspect of the construction surveys is another layer so that determinations based on profitability can be intelligently made. Land Surveyor 2.0 does not waste a lot of time reconnoitering job sites because he can easily and quickly recover all of his field notes and control points from previous surveys surrounding the current area of interest. He accesses public data from the cloud for proximal surveys done by others and integrates all of this information into a virtual project.

LAND SURVEYOR 2.0 IS CONNECTED TO THE WORLD IN REAL-TIME. HE IS SPATIALLY ENABLED. HIS DECISIONS ARE BASED ON INFORMATION THAT IS UP TO DATE.

Digital drawings are shared on the web so that change orders and other adjustments can be updated constantly. land Surveyor 2.0 is now charged with providing analysis and advice to his customers based on this live and ever changing world. While historical experience is advantageous in the decision making process, land Surveyor 2.0 must have access and be able to analyze many sources of data and then weave them into a digital realization so that the machines can go out and move dirt into the right places.

Land Surveyor 2.0 is a GIS professional….. This statement will probably cause angst among many licensed land surveyors. It shouldn’t. The task of maintaining and controlling these survey layers is very similar to what many GIS managers do with other data layers is very similar to what many GIS managers do with other data layers. Land Surveyor 2.0 is licensed to ensure the highest levels of precision and accuracy within the survey layers of data. Land Surveyor 2.0 has become a specialized GIS analyst that is authorized by his government to make decisions about land divisions and boundaries. The GIS and Surveying industries have been trying to “Bridge the Gap” for many years and land Surveyor 2.0 is closer to this bridge than ever before. Surveying firms that have adopted this model are doing so because this is what it takes to stay in business in their markets. They need the competitive edge that accompanies access to data. Their GIS, their way of managing their business is helping them make more money.

credits to: Mr. Joe Sass of Machine Control Online

Posted in land surveyor | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Land Surveyor: Today and the Future

How Important is Land Surveying in Today’s World?

land surveying

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Most of you have probably never thought about land surveying until you needed it at some point. Many of us hear about land surveying all the time but never really give it much thought. Since an investment in land and/or a home will likely be the largest investment you will ever make in your lifetime, knowing where your property lines are becomes very important indeed.

The art of land surveying was developed centuries ago. In fact, it’s one of the oldest professions in the world. The fact that it was used by man at such an early time and is still being used now shows how important surveying is to our survival.

Surveying land has many uses. Boundary surveying, for instance, allows you to know where your property corners or property lines are. This is especially helpful when disputes with a neighbour or with other people arise in terms of where your property ends.

If your family wants to divide a tract of land and transfer ownership to other family members, a boundary survey is the first step to do so. If you’re having a building constructed, it is very important that you have the land surveyed to make sure that you are not encroaching onto other peoples’ property. A mistaken building location is very expensive to fix so you might as well invest in a boundary survey to prevent this.

A topographic survey, or topo survey for short, is another important type of land surveying. A topo survey is done to locate natural and man-made features on a particular parcel of land. A topographic survey is different in that the elevation of the land is surveyed which means it can show man-made underground features, retaining walls, utility lines and etc.

Before you start any kind of construction activity, it’s important to have a topo survey done in the area so they’ll have an accurate record of the land’s existing conditions. Yes, that spot with the new mall in the neighbourhood had to have a topo survey done first.

Now, a flood survey or flood determination – this is very important too. It isn’t evident just looking at a property whether you are at risk of flooding or not. And, in some cases, even looking at the flood maps doesn’t give you an accurate answer. The flood survey determines the elevation of the home and compares that to the base flood elevation. This is the only way to be sure you’re not in a flood hazard zone. If you’ve just been told that you live in a flood-prone area, having that confirmed by a professional land surveyor would let you know how to best proceed.

When getting flood insurance, insurance companies would require an elevation certificate from you. A land surveyor would be able to assist you with this.

If a company wants to invest in another state, or if there is a national lender on a commercial project, they will likely need an ALTA Land Title Survey done before anything is constructed. An ALTA Land Title Survey is a lot like a regular boundary survey except that nationally accepted ALTA Standards are used to guide the surveying effort.

Land surveying standards vary widely from state to state and an ALTA Land Title Survey is used to cut down on this variation. Also, an ALTA Land Title Survey typically is more involved than the state standards variety. Because of this, an ALTA survey can be more anywhere from 50% to 200% more expensive than using the state standards only. If you need this type of survey, I suggest seeking an experienced land surveying company who is familiar with these additional requirements.

In summary, there are many uses for a land survey and for seeking the services of a land surveyor. If you’re unsure of your situation, consult Mobile Land Surveying at (251) 281-2081  today or go to the Contact page and send us an email.

 

Posted in blog, land surveying, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on How Important is Land Surveying in Today’s World?

Land Surveying: Estimating the Cost

land surveying

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Land surveying, simply speaking, is the science and art of establishing or re-establishing property corners, property lines and/or boundaries.

There may be different reasons why someone wants a chunk of property surveyed. Essentially the most common is to determine whether a piece of land is vulnerable to flooding, to subdivide real estate to sell or deed to members of the family or know if there are any encroachments. This might happen when a neighbour disputes that you are using a piece of his lot or vice versa (for more about this, go here).If you have to have a piece of land surveyed, first thing will come to mind is “how much does it cost?”

There are numerous factors determining just how much land surveying on your land would cost. The fact that this sort of service needs to be done by an expert contributes a lot to the total cost of the service, but choosing a non-professional to survey your land is dangerous, and probably illegal for the non-professional. That is why you need to take a good look around before settling with a surveying company. If you must work inside a particular budget, discuss this with the surveyor up-front. Very often he may manage to offer cost saving steps to get the work you need done within these cost limits.

The form of the land also needs to looked into. A square or even a rectangle piece of land is easier to survey than an odd shaped parcel, or one with lots of sides. With the latter, the surveyor will have to take more time in surveying the curves as well as the bends meaning the cost of the service would increase. The overall measurements the land is also an important factor here.

Understand that the cost of land surveying is normally proportionate to the time and effort that a land surveyor would spend on the project. If the land that you’re having surveyed is not accessible, or has thick vegetation, then the total price of the survey could go higher. This is true of the weather conditions which could affect the work. Surveying in warm weather is sort of slower to keep from putting the crew members in danger. Also, most surveying cannot be done in the rain.

When requesting for a quote, keep in mind that surveyors base the estimate on expected conditions at the site. These conditions could change, resulting in additional costs. Always inquire about these potential additional cost scenarios.

All that being said, competitive prices are also to be expected, this is why we recommend choosing a surveyor based on his experience and reputation rather than on the price he writes on a piece of paper. Usually it is far better to invest a good amount of money on a survey that’s well-done rather than pick a company with a very “affordable” price but have the survey repeated because the results were wrong.To conclude, always discuss the costs of the survey before you decide to ask the surveyor to start his work. You should also obtain a contract that lets you know what is expected of the land surveyor. This is one of the most important steps in having your land surveyed.

Posted in blog, land surveying, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Land Surveying: Estimating the Cost

Land Surveyors: Leaving Their Marks

Men and women who combine their sense of adventure, their love of technology, and also their talents in making things happen with their desire to leave a lasting impression are the people who joined the ever expanding realm of land surveying.

land surveyorsLand surveying is likely one of the world's most vital occupations. It's the only job qualified to form new property boundaries. Moreover, land surveyors also play a significant part in the construction of incredible architectural accomplishmentsfrom the historical achievements that are ages old to the impressive buildings today. As a matter of fact, three of the gents on Mount Rushmore are land surveyors themselves.

Geographic Information System or GIS experts and staff rely upon surveyors for mapping details. The task of your land surveyor has shaped the world as we know it; and it all starts off with small survey markers. It might be merely a small orange survey marker, but this mark is one of the millions that the surveyor uses to take detailed measurements that would become maps which will someday become amazing buildings, new roads, master planned communities, or entire cities – and in each step along the way is a surveyor.

Land surveyors specialize in many positions:

Photogrammetric surveying

In the Office, photogrammetric surveyors deal with cutting-edge software and state of the art machine.

Boundary Surveying

These are land surveyors who do in depth reference research studying maps and boundaries spanning centuries.

Construction Surveying

Within the area, construction surveyors are the power behind any growth; these people team up with engineers to ensure that the structures are constructed within its area and coincide with the type of land where it's built on.

Hydrographic surveying

Hydrographic surveyors take their work to the lake or sea, determining depths, borders, and a lot more. Geodesy involves surveying where you can acquire specific dimensions for satellite.

Land Surveyors may also find themselves inside the court room. They also perform a vital role in providing expert testimonies with regards to boundaries or even in assisting crime scene cases which involves land.

Qualifications of land surveyors

With merely a high school diploma, anyone can begin as a surveyor, an on the job training that would last for just six weeks, field training, and union apprenticeship. However, a lot of land surveyors are degree holders. Local community universities may offer programs or a two year comprehensive program in land surveying. Incomes tend to be greater than average career fields that need a 4 year college diploma or if these people acquire a degree or higher, they could begin management or one of the many specializations.

Posted in blog, land surveying, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Land Surveyors: Leaving Their Marks

What Is A Land Surveyor?

All Female Survey Crew 1918 - Land Surveyors | Mobile Land Surveying

In addition to the four ladies pictured above, some very famous people in history have practiced surveying. Three surveyors and another guy are depicted on Mt. Rushmore (Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were all three surveyors, Teddy Roosevelt was not.) Others were Daniel Boone, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (Lewis & Clark), Sir George Everest, Charles Mason & Jeremiah Dixon (of the Mason-Dixon Line fame) and author Henry David Thoreau practiced for a time in Concord, Massachusetts.

A land surveyor is a professional person with the academic qualifications and technical expertise to measure and plot the lengths and directions of boundary lines and the dimensions of any portion of the earth’s surface (including natural and other structures.) That definition is quite a mouthful, but in actuality the field of surveying (geomatics) includes many other facets.

For the home-owner the surveyor is the person who locates the boundary of your property and the location of your home within that boundary to determine if there are any encroachments by your neighbors onto you or vice versa. Common encroachments are fences, driveways, etc.

These days land surveyors in the United States are regulated and licensed by the various state governments. In Alabama, the Alabama State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors was established in 1935 to protect the public by helping “to safeguard life, health, and property, and to promote the public welfare by providing for the licensing and regulation of persons in the practices of engineering and land surveying. This purpose is achieved through the establishment of minimum qualifications for entry into the professions of engineering and land surveying, through the adoption of rules defining and delineating unlawful or unethical conduct, and through swift and effective discipline for those individuals or entities who violate the applicable laws or rules.”

As of 2007, newly licensed surveyors are required to have a four year degree in surveying or a closely related field and an additional four to eight years of on-the-job training under a licensed surveyor. Licensed Land Surveyors are also required to attend 15 hours of continuing education each year to maintain and update their professional knowledge and skills.

In preparation for a typical lot or mortgage survey of your house, a surveyor may review tax maps, aerial maps, deeds, subdivision plats, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations and possibly flood maps. For a typical lot survey the subdivision plat is the most important of these because it gives the exact dimensions of your lot and the relative location of your property corners. The surveyor uses this to locate and/or re-establish your property corners.

In the field the survey crew will search for your property corners along with some of your neighbors corners if yours can’t be found, measure the distances and angles between all of the points, locate the improvements on your property, including your house, pool, out-buildings, retaining walls, fences, driveways and sidewalks, etc. Other improvements like sanitary sewer mains, storm drainage ways, overhead power lines and the like are located because these might indicate an easement across the property. The plat should show these, but may not in all cases.

Once all of the field information is gathered, the crew chief takes the field notes and prepares a preliminary sketch of the work. This is passed along to a draftsperson who prepares the final drawing for your use. The draftsperson will check all of the maps mentioned earlier to make sure that all building setback lines and easements are shown on the drawing. The surveyed distances and directions are compared to the plat distances and directions also. Any discrepancies or encroachments are shown on the drawing. Your attorney uses the drawing to determine if any other legal work is needed during the closing. The mortgage company or bank uses the survey to insure they are loaning you money on the correct property.

So now, what do you have for your money. You have a drawing which shows your house on your lot. You should have stakes and/or flagging by all of your property corners. Make sure you know where they are located. The actual corner is marked by an iron pin or pipe of some sort. (The type of monument should be shown on your survey drawing.) You might also want to take a look for them at least once a year to make sure they’re still there. (Even animals mark their territory more often than that.)

For more specific information about what type survey you need, please call Mobile Land Surveying at (251) 281-2081 or better yet send us a contact form request.

Posted in blog, land surveying, land surveyor | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on What Is A Land Surveyor?