September 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm #160644
As I have posted previously on this thread, I don’t wait for a finished survey to close the deal and start designing. I strike while the iron is hot, not after a client has had the opportunity to talk to a zillion LAs and design/build firms. I’ll spend an hour or so on-site to gather enough information to start working from concept through DD phases. This method allows me to spend even more time getting to know new potential clients and designing.
I have no problem investing $500-$1200 to buy technology that’s going to cut my time on site in half, but a $12,000 will not be spent by this one man outfit to buy surveying equipment. It would be something worse than bad business.
Of course you wouldn’t use shovels on a job when a trackhoe could do it more efficiently, but there are some jobs where a shovel would suffice. It just seems like for the type of work I do, using a $12,000 dollar set-up is like installing a 2” tree and 6 ‘Shamrock’ Hollies with a monster sized back-hoe and front-end loader.September 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm #160643
“…if I miss a subterranean pipe, I’m liable.”
I can see it now, contractor augers into a fiber optic line or better yet a natural gas transmission line that I missed while playing surveyor; just so he could build the stupid gazebo the client wanted. That could cause an LA to have a really bad day.
During the trial images from my own web-site showing me showing off my tricked-out surveying set-up are used against me.September 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm #160642John PhippsParticipant
Andrew – Are you able to measure flat surfaces using the laser? Put stakes at the corners or such? Guess curves walks could be a bit tricky tho’! This has been an interesting discussion. Thanks for starting it.September 15, 2011 at 7:26 pm #160641Jason T. RadiceParticipant
The pros miss them, too. I’ve had underground power with an easment, missed. And it just so happened the architect had the corner of the building right over it! Power line moved. I’ve had buildings severely mismeasured, by 20′!!!!! And grading off by up to 3′. Again, with really large or complicated projects, you cannot afford those kind of errors on your insurance if you are not a licensed surveyor. I’d love the stuff to do layouts myself because the contractors always have a hard time with my plans (not my fault, they aren’t used to the complexity of the designs…and yet, they never ask for e-files because they don’t use total stations).September 16, 2011 at 12:58 am #160640
You are correct Jason most of my work is Residental and relandscaping small commercial. I do not generally do any new construction sites. I can appreciate what you are saying about a larger project and there it makes sense to use a licensed surveyor. But at my level this works GREAT!
s.September 16, 2011 at 1:04 am #160639
When you own your own equipment Craig you don’t have to wait for a survey either because while you are on the job-stie with your Robot you are actually drawing your drawing. By the time you get back to the office you are ready to do your design. I am sure that LA’s use to say the same thing about computers back when a PC cost 5K or more and everything was done by hand.
s.September 16, 2011 at 3:22 am #160638Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
I’m glad we got a lot of different perspectives on this thread also.
I don’t layout jobs for contractors. I just measure details that I need for existing conditions base plans. If a curved walkway exists, it is not usually missed by a survey crew. The 24″ oak between it and the house often is missed. The oak and its 8 brothers are what I’m tpically picking up with my on-site measuring. I would not mind having more capability,but I’m right there with Craig – a grand or two for a lot more capability might be worth it, but twelve grand is simply not worth it at this point.September 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm #160637September 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm #160636
Not a fair comparison the PC has direct application to the daily functions of a Landscape Architect. I can’t say that for your Robot. I have to admit though, I would love to have something like that to tinker around with. But then again, I’ve always wanted to operate heavy equipment. Operating both would be extremely cool, but not smart for me to use professionally.September 16, 2011 at 3:45 pm #160635
No back in the day of the original PC LA’s were not using PC’s at all. (I know that may be before your time.) At that time PC’s were real expensive. Most LA’s at that time saw PC’s as a novelty and ignored them too. And so I think it is a very relavant comparison.
s.September 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm #160634
OK Steve you win.September 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm #160633Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
Looks like a Cat 980. I used to operate one ….. enought to bring it up to where I’d powerwash the bark out of the belly pans at the lumber mill that I worked at. Just another task for the “gardener”.September 16, 2011 at 4:58 pm #160632
You’re an RLA that knows how to operate heavy equipment? Andrew you are a rock star in my eyes. I have this “mantasy” about piling large quantities of bulk material.September 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm #160631Mark HarrisonParticipant
Range poles with an optical prism: Start with either a sheet of grid paper or an aerial photo with a card table on the site. Tape paper onto foam core board. Tape board onto card table. If using an aerial, get it from a professional aerial survey mapping company, not Google Earth. Call the city planner if you can’t find a source. Find two reference points that are distinctly visible on the aerial at approximately the same land elevation and create a base line between them, both on site and on the aerial/grid paper. Set up two range poles (or vertical poles of some sort) and lay out a tape measure(s) between them. Visually align the base line between the two poles by sighting it from either end. Have a buddy stand on the site feature to which you’re measuring with a third range pole. Using an optical prism, direct your buddy left and right while you site him/her with the prism. The optical prism allows you to site your buddy at exactly 90 degrees perpendicular to the base line. Note the base line station and then measure from that station to your buddy. This will give you your “x” and “y” values for the site feature. Scale and draw the site features on the grid and/or verify their “x” and “y” coordinates on the aerial. I would “note only” x and y coordinates on an aerial and verify locations back in the office. As for shooting grades, I believe there is no substitue for a level of some sort and a surveying rod. Shoot grades at cross-sections along sations on the base line and perpendicular to it. Measure feet left and feet right using a tape or the surveying rod. Be sure to measure to, and shoot grades of, grade breaks, high points, low points, etc. One great advantage of doing your own site measuring in this way is that YOU actually touch every site feature yourself, and “crap, I didn’t know that was there” will rarely happen. As with all of the other blog responders, I would recommend having a licensed surveyor prepare a survey and base map before going to CDs. Perhaps the above method will allow you to “zero in” on which areas need to be surveyed by the surveyor, depending on the extent of your utimate design. One note: Even if you obtain a sie survey from a professional aerial survey mapping company, don’t depend on contours. Always field verify (at least spot check) grades before going to CDs.October 12, 2015 at 10:56 pm #160630
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