What is Construction Surveying?

Phil Shepley

No matter where you may go in the world, it seems like construction is in process. This is because construction is always necessary, whether it involves building new structures or additions to current ones. A vital role in any type of construction is that of construction surveying, which can include many different job details. These utilize many different skills and tools to determine a multitude of factors that will be involved prior to and during construction of many different structures.

A construction project.
A construction project.

When building roads, bridges, and highways, construction surveying initially requires the use of computers, calculators, and other tools to establish the major factors of the land’s surface that will be involved in the upcoming construction. On a road being built on previously untouched land, for instance, a construction surveyor will need to determine how the land will need to be displaced in order to build the road in the way that it has been planned. Any element in the construction zone and its surrounding areas must be taken into account relative to the future road, such as trees, water, hills, and more. The surveyor must also prepare the people building the road for work involving the addition of drainage systems, sidewalks and other minor parts of the entire project.

A surveyor uses a theodolite to survey property.
A surveyor uses a theodolite to survey property.

The calculations made when doing road construction surveying will determine the easiest way for a road construction crew to get their job done. Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment is one of the primary modern tools that can be used to do this, by calculating the topography of the land and where equipment will be positioned and used for the quickest and easiest work possible. Other tools of the trade in construction surveying are levels, maps, computers, and theodolites, the last of which are tools that measure all of the different slopes, angles, and deviations of the land that will be developed.

The surveyor must then be involved in the process of marking the actual physical land with a predetermined system of stakes and markers, which will usually accompany a land survey map. These will be used by the construction crew to build the structure as it has been planned by indicating the locations where specific work must be done. Once it has been built, the road, bridge, or other entity is sometimes revisited by the construction surveying team for several reasons, including evaluation of the job, determination of the integrity of the structure, examination of the possibility of future work, and more.

Building construction surveying involves many of the same aspects of work, except in relation to the construction of buildings, houses and other structures upon different types of land. The initial jobs for the building surveyor are similar to those of the road surveyor, and involve determining how the land must be manipulated by the construction crew to make way for the structure. Building surveying also encompasses all parts of the structure and their integrity including pipes, foundations, floors, columns, walls, and more, all of which must follow strict codes. Rather than a survey map, building surveyors must utilize a much more complex system of mapping the construction site for the workers that must be easily understood by everyone involved.

Maps are used in construction surveying.
Maps are used in construction surveying.

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