Get it right from the start: surveyors are first on scene

Published: 05 Oct 2023

Surveyors are a fundamental part of the construction process and will be involved in many stages of a project. However, they are always first on scene and integral to defining the scope and ambition of a construction development. This often means that a surveyor will be the first to actually access a site to establish the possibilities and parameters of a project’s potential. The varied disciplines of the profession are required at various key points in the construction process, depending on the scope of the project, the circumstances and the nature of the terrain.   

Development potential

Getting it right, from the start, will ensure that the rest of the project will progress smoothly and efficiently. For example, having an accurate topographical survey carried out at the beginning of a development will be useful, not simply as a guide for the architects and planners as it will be worthwhile later in the project too. Initially, the survey can be used to create a layout that will make best use of the site and the features of the landscape at hand. It will be essential to the design process and in defining what can be established on the site. The survey information can be used as 2D drawings or 3D modelled images, which can then become the basis of interactive and immersive design options that demonstrate how the finished project will look.  

Unforeseen obstacles for first on scene

An underground utilities survey can be helpful when deciding which areas of a site can be developed.

If a location is a brownfield site, there can often be a number of extinct and obsolete underground utilities that can be obstructive to development. On some occasions, there may be the requirement for the site to be made safe and for old utilities to be removed, or the site will need to be decontaminated of pollutants. That can be the case with a site that was once a petrol station, for example, or a chemical-related industrial facility, where underground tanks or chambers could be problematic for construction work to begin.

No developer wants unforeseen obstacles that can severely delay a project, causing budgets and stress to rise, so having an underground utilities survey to refer to is essential.

New beginnings

There are some surveying services – such as ‘as-built’ (aka ‘as-constructed’) surveys and digital twin projects – that are involved in the duration of the project from the start and beyond. ‘As-built’ surveys can record data at any given moment in a project’s development. Sometimes this can be at the beginning of the project, as a benchmark of how a building or site looks prior to a major renovation. Of course, when construction has been completed, this marks the beginning of another ‘start’ too. So, the lifespan of the building begins and people start to use it for its designed purpose – be it residential, industrial, commercial, recreational or public buildings, such as schools and hospitals.   

Engaging with a reliable professional surveyor – such as a TSA member – from the outset of a project is crucial. The commencement of a project is perhaps the most important phase of the process. Having accurate data – that can be relied upon to be precise and be shared and referred to across all platforms and partners during the construction process – contributes greatly to the development’s success.