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What is construction surveying?

Though we like to stand and gripe about builders never doing anything but drinking tea, there's a lot that goes into completing a construction project. The most important part of any development actually occurs before the foundations are dug and filled.

In this article, we take you through what exactly construction surveying (also known as engineering surveying) entails, and why it’s so crucial to get it right.

What is construction surveying?

We’ll use the terms ‘construction surveying’ and ‘engineering surveying’ interchangeably in this article, as they both mean the same thing.

Essentially, this particular branch of surveying is concerned with the ‘setting out‘ or ‘staking’ out of a project. This involves staking out markers and reference points on the construction site that tells the contractors where to start building the new structure in question.

This usually relies on a coordinate system selected specifically for the project.

How long has construction surveying been around for?

As one of the oldest disciplines on earth, evidence of construction surveying is visible throughout history.

Take the Great Pyramid of Giza, for example – built in c.2700 BC, its elegantly sloping sides and perfect alignment with the horizon affirm the Egyptians’ extraordinary command of surveying.

And closer to home, the Stonehenge monument stands at an angle that researchers suggest could only have been achieved with the use of prehistoric surveying techniques.

As such disciplines evolve and modernise, you’d expect the technology to change drastically. However, we’re still using essentially the same geometric measuring methods used by our predecessors.

Although we are now able to use lasers and satellite communications like GPS to authenticate the accuracy of our measurements, we still rely on basic technology like spirit levels and marking areas out with pegs and string to complete construction surveys.

  • What is the construction survey process?
    There are a number of different processes involved in completing a successful building survey.
  • Survey existing conditions of the work site
    This includes looking at topography, existing infrastructure and buildings, and any underground infrastructure (such as diameters of sewers at nearby manholes)
  • Stake out corners
    This involves physically staking out the corners of each plot, work area, services, and construction cabins location, as well as the markers and reference points that will be used to guide the build itself
  • Verification

This involves verifying the location of steelwork, blockwork etc , and implementing corrective instructions if necessary

  • Levelling

On each floor, horizontal control must be provided

  • ‘As-Built’ survey

Once the construction project is complete, the building surveyor will complete a survey in order to verify that specifications have been met as per the approved plans

What equipment is used in construction surveying?

Much like land surveying, a construction survey will involve looking at the natural habitat before any construction will begin. Because of this, an engineering surveyor will make use of equipment like laser levels, total stations, and GPS.

Get in touch!

Interested in learning more about how we conduct construction surveys here at Landform Surveys? We’d be more than happy to explain our processes and the types of surveying that we offer.

Get in touch today on 0191 265 0555 or at