Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Construction Surveys in NYC

Why Are Construction Surveys in NYC Needed for Commercial Projects

Empire State Layout NYC Construction Surveyors

What Are Construction Surveys?

Construction surveys in NYC are sometimes referred to as building surveys or taking surveys. They may also be called property or construction staking, a layout survey, or just called "setting out." These terms refer to the same type of survey, which is necessary for any commercial project in NYS, such as buildings or roads. 

Stakes are used in this kind of survey to establish reference points and act as markers to guide construction. Stakes are laid out at suitable coordinates by a surveyor based on the specifics of the project and take into consideration pre-existing structures and also the landscape. They are quite complicated, and it is important that they are completed by an experienced, knowledgeable professional.

The History of Construction Surveys

Construction surveying has a very long history that is believed to have begun with the building of the Great Pyramids in Egypt around 2700 BC. The bases of every pyramid is a nearly a perfect square with a north-south orientation. Egyptians obviously had an excellent understanding of surveying to accomplish this. There is no way that the massive structures could have been so expertly built without first surveying the land and planning their construction. 

Stonehenge is also believed to have been set out using peg and rope geometry, which is a common practice in modern surveying. Modern surveying today also incorporates a lot of modern equipment and makes use of the latest technology to accuracy such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which are used in conjunction with staking. NYC Construction surveyors also use radar and radio frequencies to assess things like land contours, elevation, and subterranean structures.

The profession of construction surveying as we know it today began fairly recently. It got its start in the 1970s in the United Kingdom. Interestingly, there are some countries around the world that do not yet recognize it as a profession, even countries that recognize other types of surveying. Construction surveying can be a separate profession from other types of land surveying, and the requirements for licensure are slightly different, but most surveyors in NY are licensed for construction surveying along with the other types of land surveying. Some general surveyors specialize in construction surveying, and this is their primary focus.

The Parts of a Construction Survey

Construction surveys are one of the more complex types of land surveys because they are required for any commercial project in the state of New York. Most commercial projects are quite large and more is involved than with a private project. NYC construction surveyors will begin by surveying the existing conditions of the property, such as topography, other buildings and even underground for things like sewer lines. They then stake out the corners of the property and references points to guide the new structures or buildings. 

During construction, the surveyor remains on the site to verify the locations of construction and provide horizontal control, especially for buildings that will have multiple floors. At the end of the project, they conduct another survey called an as-built survey that again verifies the construction based on the specifications established in the initial construction survey, making sure everything is as close to the original plans as possible.

Types of Staking

Two types of staking occur in construction surveys in NYC. One or both may be used, depending upon the project. Rough grade staking is used a lot for parking lots, roadways, and anything that has a slope or there is a lot of sloping on the parcel. This type of staking defines structure location based on the final elevation and does not consider structures below the ground. Site layout staking is used for buildings. 

Existing underground features like sewer, drain, water and electrical lines are surveyed and reviewed. Locations of new underground features are also included in the staking, so that they can be installed by sub-contractors. Building corners are also staked along with other onsite items like curbs, drains, ditches that are planned. Site layout staking is much more extensive because more work goes into the construction of buildings.

Why Surveying Is Important For Construction

To complete any large project a great deal of planning is involved if you want the project to turn out the best that it possibly can. You cannot construct a road or build a building anywhere, even if the land belongs to you. Complying with applicable codes and laws is even more important for commercial projects, which are often more large-scale. 

NYC construction surveyors interpret the proposed building plans created by an architect or engineer and ensure that they will work in reality on the proposed piece of land. The staking they do guides the entire construction process to complete the project on time and on a budget as well as correctly for legal and safety purposes. Without the help of a skilled construction surveyor, the sub-contractors would be working blindly when creating structures and would be unaware of anything under the ground that may impact their job. 


Empire State Layout is a leading construction surveyor serving the NYC and Long Island areas. Learn more about all of their services by visiting their website.

Additional References

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Different Types of Land Surveys

A New York City Land Surveyor on a Construction Job
A New York City Land Surveyor on a New Construction Job

NYC Land Surveying is a crucial tool used to identify features and boundaries of land to determine ownership. Many people will require a land survey at some point and time; therefore, it is beneficial to have a general idea of the various types of land surveys. Some of the most common types of land surveys include:

Mortgage Surveys

Mortgage surveys are primary surveys that are most commonly used to determine building locations and land boundaries. They are usually required by lending and title companies when they provide financing to show the conditions of the property in question. They are also used to show that there are no structures infringing on the property and that any structures located on the property satisfy current building codes and zoning.

A mortgage survey differs from a mortgage inspection in that it is performed by a licensed land surveyor. Also, it is a standard survey that complies with set standards and is governed and accepted as an official land survey. On the other hand, a mortgage inspection is simply a substandard survey that does not adhere to any set standards and is not accepted or regulated as an official land survey.

Boundary Surveys

A boundary survey, another common type of survey, is typically used to establish the true boundaries of a specific property. To determine the true boundaries of a property, the surveyor will use previously recorded markers in addition to new landmarks. Using this data, the surveyor will then mark lines of the plot and the corners using markers, such as nails set in asphalt or concrete, concrete monuments, pipes, or iron rods.

Topographic Surveys

Topographic surveys are land surveys that are used to identify man-made and natural features on a piece of property, such as trees, improvements, streams, buildings, fences, land contours, and elevations, etc. These land features are measured for their altitude on a particular parcel of land and displayed as contour lines on a plot. Topographic surveys are most commonly used by architects and engineers to assist in the design of developments and improvements on a site; however, sometimes the government will require topography surveys.

Construction Surveys

Construction surveys are one of the fastest growing types of land surveys. The majority of construction surveys fall under civil engineering, which may require additional certifications and degrees to carry out. All construction projects begin with a plan of survey, or Site Plan, which sets out the plan for the complete project including all current and suggested conditions on a particular site. In fact, surveys are used throughout the construction process from the planning to the actual construction of the project to the maintenance afterward. There are three main types of construction surveys: as-built surveys, foundation surveys, and deformation surveys.

  • As-Built Surveys are conducted numerous times throughout a building project to confirm to state and local boards that the authorized work is being finished in compliance with their specifications set on the plot. 
  • Foundation Surveys, a type of as-built survey, gathers the positional data on a foundation that has been poured and is now set. Foundation Surveys are used to ensure that the completed foundation has been assembled in the proper manner and location as stated in the plan.
  • Deformation Survey is conducted on existing structures to determine if the object or structure is moving or deviating in shape.
By recording the three-dimensional positions of specific points on an object, then allowing a set period of time to pass before remeasuring these points, NYC Land Surveyors can determine whether a structure is moving or shifting, as well as by how much.

ALTA Surveys

An ALTA survey, also known as an ATLA/ACSM survey, combines all elements of a boundary survey, mortgage survey, and topographic survey with a set standard established by the American Congress on Survey Mapping and American Land Title Association.

ALTA surveys are mostly used for commercial properties. By having a universal standard, companies can rely on the level of accuracy because the results are guaranteed by American Congress on Survey Mapping and American Land Title Association standards.

Right Away Easement Surveys

A right away or easement is a legal right of one person to access property owned by another person, such as a narrow walkway to arrive at a community park or other area that hinders the deed owner from improving the property in any way.

An easement survey is a method of gathering, reporting, or displaying the necessary data to reestablish or establish the location of adequate property lines of the favored parcel or strip of land to assure the correct location of the area of land being described for the benefits and use of others. Easement surveys are required to comply with the same standards as boundary surveys; however, markers do not need to be set. 

Additional Resources

NYS Association of Professional Land Surveyors