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Teesside R10

An Expert Guide to Setting Out

Setting out, also referred to as staking out or laying out, involves transferring the building design to the land itself and occurs once architect’s plans have been finalised and data from a topographic survey has been gathered. In this guide we share our expertise on setting out.

What is setting out?

Setting out is the process of taking points from a design and marking them out on the physical space. Construction workers use these key points and guide markers to aid projects and produce accurate building work.

Typically, larger scale projects such as high rise buildings or developments will require multiple setting out surveys throughout the project, ensuring continuity and accuracy as the project is progressing.


Why are setting out surveys important?

Setting out surveys are used for a variety of construction projects, including building extensions, buildings of all sizes, roads, bridges, and tunnels.

As well as guiding workers through the beginning stages of construction, setting out is important to ensure the construction remains within the legal boundary. If building works fail to meet legal requirements, then they could face lengthy legal disputes regarding these issues further down the line.

It is common for setting out surveys to be overlooked, especially for smaller scale projects. However, failing to set out can result in costly mistakes being made which will need to be fixed. In addition to setting out being overlooked, inaccurate setting out surveys are also highly problematic for projects, causing expensive mistakes and project delays. It is important for setting out to be completed by professional and experienced surveyors to avoid these issues occurring.


What equipment is used in setting out?

A total station is the main piece of equipment that is used for a setting out survey. A total station is a tripod that is mounted with a modern theodolite and features an EDM (electric distance meter), which measures vertical and horizontal planes. The measured distances are used in conjunction with mapping software in order to provide a database of reference points.

The points are then marked out on the ground using wooden pegs or steel pins. String lines can then be used between the pins as a further aid in marking the points on the ground.


Who conducts a setting out survey?

Whilst some setting out engineers are qualified surveyors; others may simply work alongside a surveyor consultant to perform a setting out survey. A setting out engineer is responsible for setting out the site, levelling and surveying the site (if they are qualified to do so), maintaining a site journal, overseeing quality control, regularly holding update meetings, resolving technical issues, planning, and organising work and being the point of liaison between multiple teams.


Setting Out with Landform Surveys

At Landform Surveys, we have specialist setting out engineers that are experienced in conducting accurate and reliable setting out surveys on any size development. Contact our team today to find out more about our setting out services.