A Full Suite of Services Founded in Survey Intelligence

| June 24, 2019

by Michael Feldman

Construction survey

In today’s digital world, surveying has developed into an all-encompassing discipline that includes processes for the entire real estate project lifecycle. As such, there’s a need in our profession for a full suite of geospatial services that supports a construction or restoration project throughout its entire lifespan, from due diligence and acquisition to as-built and long-term financing.

All of the services clients need are founded in what we call “survey intelligence” – top-quality research, data collection, and technology – as well as a high level of competence that goes into the survey process.

Mission Chapel interior scan

Owner clients and design professionals frequently engage the civil engineer on a team to perform the survey work on a project, since they believe it’s more convenient to employ two services from the same firm. However, we’re increasingly seeing that clients need a firm with both the capacity and capability to perform every survey service that’s required during the entire project lifecycle in order to maintain consistency and accuracy throughout. That’s why it is crucial to engage a firm that can offer smart surveying services that are designed to guide each client’s development vision until it becomes a built reality.

Worcester Courthouse

Before acquisition, a client will need a title survey for due diligence or a feasibility study within a very exact timeframe, before a deposit goes hard. Then, once the land or structure has been acquired, they will require all necessary survey data to begin the permitting process.

Next, in the design phase, the client may begin coordination and virtual design and construction process (VDC). At that point, using services such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D laser scanning to produce a 3D model from the 2D construction plans will be required. That 3D model can be used to “walk” contractors through the project to see where all the walls, utilities, elevators, and other elements will be located.


Project Life Cycle

Subsequently, the work is verified with laser scanning — plus, in a process often called “clash detection”, existing models can be checked to ensure there are no points of conflict before construction begins. Alternatively, the client may simply need a full existing conditions survey to show all the site’s improvements and topographic features with subsurface utilities for the permitting phase.

In the construction phase, it’s extremely important that the survey firm is able to reconcile the architectural and structural plans, as well as coordinate various construction documents to provide any RFIs to the design team to verify dimensions that may not be clear. Many firms believe this is risky, however, a full-service survey firm needs to function as a partner to support the lean construction process.

MEP Model

After working with the plans and existing models to identify any issues, it’s now time to go on site to lay column line control, as well as other structural and architectural elements as necessary.

The next phase of the project lifecycle is the as-built phase. Whether that involves as-builts of anchor bolts and foundation elements before the steel is placed or survey work to verify that the final structure is accurately recorded, this is a necessary step. And at the conclusion of the project, there may be a need for an ALTA/NSPS land title survey that delivers all the data a client needs when acquiring long-term financing for the project.

Full campus drone mapping

In short, there’s a need for survey firms that can create a database of everything that’s being built and what it should look like, and then lay the project out and consequently verify it again once the construction phase is completed.

All real estate and development projects are a significant investment of time and resources. That’s why clients need survey firms that are capable of providing all the necessary services from beginning to end that will be accountable throughout the entire project lifecycle.

There are so many moving parts to real estate acquisition, design and construction. By engaging the right survey firm, clients will be able to rest easy knowing they not only have a firm that can take a project from inception to construction, but also a trusted partner to help guide the entire process from beginning to end. So if you’re a potential client, the next time you think about choosing a survey firm out of convenience, make sure you’re choosing a firm that can be with you throughout the entire project life cycle. This decision will enable you to get it Right. From the Ground Up!

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