What is the difference between urban planning and urban design?

Urban PlanningHere at McNeil Engineering, we are proud of all of our projects that focus on urban planning and design. We often work with state municipalities on projects and developers working on designs that must be approved by cities or counties. We create concepts involving pedestrian, car, and public transportation needs. These mockups and designs are created to help get things approved quickly by a city. That’s what we’re good at.

A Closer Look at the Differences Between Urban Planning and Design

Still, there are big differences between urban planning and urban design. It is important for companies like us to understand these differences. This is how we deliver excellent service to our engineering clients. Let’s first examine the basic definitions.

  • Urban Design: The design and creation of certain city features, from green spaces to infrastructure, public transportation, landscape architecture, and community-use facilities.
  • Urban Planning: The planning of a city or municipality and the use of its structures, as well as policies, procedures, zoning, neighborhood planning, infrastructure, and overall standards and building codes.

Urban design is used to focus solely on designing individual city features. This could be a transportation system, city park, or wastewater treatment facility. Urban design is for those who want to do creative work. People who want to work on quality of life, population resilience, and sustainability will find a rewarding career as urban designers. Today’s urban planners often work within neighborhoods to create designs that benefit and inspire the community

Urban planners are more strategists. They need to evaluate factors that may not necessarily be in their control. From the technical endpoint to political considerations, urban planners need to have a real “big picture” view of what a neighborhood needs. One area where both urban designers and urban planners overlap is in the area of sustainability, long term resilience, and individual quality of life for residential and commercial land tenants

Core Skills Required for Urban Designers and Planners in Salt Lake City

Core skills necessary to work as an urban planner or designer are similar but also have distinct differences. Both designers and planners work on projects with similar outcomes, but their roles are quite different. Urban planners require great communication and negotiation skills. Urban designers need to have strong technical skills, but they also must be good communicators so that they can fully understand the end user’s experience.

Urban planners are generally passionate about the cities they live in. In general, planners will have a high degree of passion for what works and what doesn’t in their city. Urban planners have a good idea of what needs to be improved and what doesn’t. This could pertain to everything from green spaces to bike paths or affordable housing. But the passion displayed by urban planers goes beyond the urban landscape they reside in. Just like other residents of their town or city, they want to share in the growth and well-being of their neighborhood and enjoy utilizing their skills to meet that end.

Urban planners also generally have a strong sense of connectedness. They share a strong sense of collective values with those they live and work around. But even more, they take a look at the broader community as a whole. Urban planners generally want to live in a society that offers sustainable development, plenty of public transport options, and a stable housing market for buyers and sellers.

Urban designers, by contrast, are more technical in nature. You will find designers to be an interesting mix of individuals who are both people-centric and technologically-inclined. Excellent urban designers are very good at meeting the technical outcomes and requirements in a plans, while also also responding to the shifting needs of the contractors and neighborhood-dwellers.

Which Career is Right for You?

If you love improving society and making a positive impact on individual lives, then urban planning is for you. Urban planners also require skills obtained in many other professions, from teachers to project managers and environmental scientists. Urban planners are great communicators, effectively use evidence to support their arguments, are self-reflective and have great analytical skills.

Conversely, if you are passionate about upgrading the user experience and building on your technical skills, urban design is or you. Urban designers are very good at thinking organically and utilizing architectural and environmental design skills. They are driven by a strong set of core values, can imagine and visualize a plan, and are adept at translating abstract data into a vision.

Here at McNeil Engineering, we work with urban planners and designers day-in and day-out to ensure their jobs are completed quickly and by the numbers. Want to learn more about job opportunities here at McNeil? Simply follow this link, and thanks for reading!


A brief history of land surveying tools

land surveying toolsSurveying has been an essential service to mankind for all of recorded human history. Before one can start any project, buy a plot of land, or even see a plot of land on a map, it must first be surveyed. Because of this, land surveying is believed to be one of the oldest and most important professions in the world. At McNeil, we’re proud to employ the latest in land surveying technology, specializing in 3D laser scanning, which uses a laser to collect tremendous amounts of accurate, dependable data in a short period of time.

This technology has revolutionized the surveying business and is rapidly becoming the standard practice in surveying, making it a viable and cost-effective choice for more and more projects every day. However, as previously mentioned, land surveying is one of the oldest professions in the world, meaning we didn’t always have lasers to collect our data for us. To be able to appreciate the speed and dependability of laser scanning technology, we thought we’d take you through a very brief history of a couple of other tools used historically in land surveying that led the technology to develop to its current level.

1. The Diopter

Far, far before lasers, early Greeks were using a land surveying tool called the diopter. This one is nearly as old as geometry itself, and one of geometry’s first uses was the precise division of land. Dating back to the 1st century C.E., the diopter is a classical tool used to measure angles and altitudes. The diopter was constructed rather simply for how we picture surveying tools today, a disk and a pivot are fixed to a stand and can be adjusted with a screw and a cogwheel to move freely or stay still.

Then, depending on what the device was being used for, it was fitted with either a sighting device or a water level. If the diopter was being used to measure an angle, say to divide the land up accurately, the user would fit a sighting device onto the diopter then adjust the screw so that the disk could move freely. The user would then pick points in the distance to represent the angular separation that needed to be measured (this could be a structure or a tree or a rock, anything they could find.) Then, the user would aim the sighting device at each point, readjust the device so that it remains still again and measure the angle stated on the device! The water level was fitted to determine altitudes, and basically, the user would look at the line of the water, to determine whether objects in the distance were at the same land level as that which the user was standing. The diopter was an incredibly important invention to surveying because it was the first surveying tool that didn’t require the surveyor to physically walk from point to point to measure them, and also didn’t require any extra equipment like chains or ropes.

2. Gunter’s Chain

Speaking of chains, they are one of the most important tools in the history of surveying, so it’s important that we mention them, Gunter’s chain especially. Gunter’s chain was a mathematical tool of measurement invented in 1620 by Edmund Gunter. Gunter’s chain consisted of 100 chain links that were 200 millimeters long, resulting in the full chain being 20.1 millimeters or 66 feet. This tool was incredibly important because it was easily understood by both Americans and English people. There was a way to divide or multiply Gunter’s chain to calculate most pre-existing units of land measurement, for example, ten square Gunter’s chains are equal to an acre of land. This was incredibly helpful because it means that it was the only tool really required to measure land. The physical use of Gunter’s chain was incredibly simple, aside from it being a bit physically taxing. To use it, one simply pins one end of the chain into the ground they want to start measuring and then walks to where they want to stop measuring and places another pin. pins can be placed anywhere along Gunter’s chain and distance can be calculated from there.

We think the history of land surveying is incredibly interesting and we’re so glad to offer our clients simple, fast, and accurate surveying possible at this time in history. We’ve only discussed land surveying, but it’s incredibly important to note that laser scanning can perform surveying of all kinds. Laser scanning surveys an area and everything in it. We use high-definition laser scanners, total stations, and modeling and point cloud software to provide comprehensive, record surveys, 3D CAD models and detailed 2D isometric drawings. This makes laser scanning an incredibly important tool not just for land surveying, but also for building information modeling.

At McNeil, we’re so excited to continue to grow as surveying technology continues to grow. If you’re interested in our surveying, laser scanning, or building information modeling services, please visit our website.


Kimball Plaza parking lot replacement

Kimball Plaza parking lot replacementWhile we are best known regionally for patented architectural engineering consultation services – which we have put to good use on thousands of projects around the American west regional area – we also have an arsenal of other consultation expertise beyond just architectural engineering too.

Take, for example, our consultation expertise when it comes to the tricky business of parking lot replacement. This particular sort of property redevelopment can be extra difficult to navigate for the stakeholders in institutions, businesses, municipalities, and any other sorts of organizations who have tenants in buildings utilizing said parking lot. It is vital for such entities to maintain civil relationships with their tenants, while also adhering to tight parking lot replacement/property redevelopment budgets.

This is exactly the sort of instance that occurred in Utah, during our consultation on the Kimball Plaza parking lot replacement.

The nuts and bolts of parking lot replacement

When it came to the Kimball Plaza parking lot replacement/property redevelopment project, we immediately understood the owners were dealing with a very tight budget for said project, along with disgruntled tenants.

The first challenge we faced on this project’s consultation was to get the property redevelopment drawings, sketches, and blueprints approved by the local city. The client’s goal was to increase parking for their development, which would improve circulation in and around the whole property altogether. The only hurdle was – the local city/county would require upgrading the existing storm drainage system if the project changed any of the hardscape square footage.

With these factors in mind, we here at McNeil Engineering were able to completely redesign the parking lot layout in such a way we were able to maintain the existing hardscape to landscape ratio, while simultaneously adding six parking stalls. Additionally, we simplified the circulation for patrons of local businesses. Seeing sense, the local county approved this plan, and we saved the client the expense of both a new treatment system and collection boxes.

Parking lot replacement on a budget

The design for this Kimball Plaza parking lot replacement/property redevelopment project called for the removal and replacement of both asphalt and base. We here at McNeil Engineering performed a study of the existing base course, determining it was in good enough condition we could leave it in place – simply removing the existing asphalt, demolishing some existing landscape islands, and installing new islands and asphalt paving without having to remove any existing base. Indeed, we only brought in asphalt as needed to meet the modified grading requirements.

When the project’s initial bid was suddenly canceled, we helped guide the client into finding a reputable contractor to perform a modified scope of this parking lot replacement/property redevelopment project. We worked very closely with the said reputable contractor in order to accomplish every single one of the client’s goals- while staying within budget, fulfilling the tenants’ desires, and not breaking any local county zoning laws.

The client was beyond ecstatic we here at McNeil Engineering, along with the reputable contractor were able to help keep their parking lot replacement/property redevelopment project within their tight budget while also helping them to maintain a positive relationship with their tenants at Kimball Plaza in Utah.

In need of a new parking lot?

Are you the stakeholder in an organization, business, and/or institution currently searching to replace your property’s parking lot? Perhaps you’re just looking to redevelop the said property in some other dynamic, business savvy, budget-friendly way? Well, you don’t need to look any further – you’ve come to the perfect place! We here at McNeil Engineering are more than capable of providing you with such sterling parking lot replacement/property redevelopment consultations and recommendations. We can aid you in your goal of completing your desired results in the cheapest, most elegant, and most ecologically sustainable manner humanly possible. Allow yourself to finally relax in the comfort of knowing your architectural engineering/property redevelopment needs are more than taken care of.


The Future of Land Surveying

The future of land surveyingLand surveying plays an important role in land development. No wonder it’s been around for a very long time. In ancient Egypt, ‘rope stretchers’ were surveyors that used knotted stretched cords to measure property demarcations. Thankfully, we’re now long past that point.

The ‘Total Station’ theodolite, introduced in 1971, revolutionized the way land surveyors measured distance, elevations, and angles. And until today, they are an essential tool in a land surveyor’s kit.

Over the last two decades, advances in robotics and computerized data collection have further transformed the field. In this post, we look at some of the current trends that will immensely impact the future of land surveying.

Usage of UAV

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were once only associated with military applications. But thanks to technological advances, their inhibiting costs have been dramatically reduced. Consequently, they’re finding applications in many other sectors, including land surveying.

Drones have several advantages over both terrestrial surveying teams and manned aircraft. Some of which include:

1) Faster: a drone covers a far larger land area in a shorter time.

2) Accessing difficult terrains: Crossing some terrain put personnel at a safety risk. With a drone, such areas can be surveyed without risking the safety of anyone.

3) Robust data collection: Drones can be used to collect a wide range of data. Some of which include 2D and 3D orthomosaic maps, 3D models, thermal maps, multispectral maps, and more.

4) Better integration with software: Drone data can easily be integrated with CAD software to build models for land development.

With this greater precision, reduced cost, and better efficiency, UAVs will only increase in adoption.

Mobile 3D Mapping

Through the combination of advanced imagery, sophisticated measurement tools, and several mobile transportation platforms, Mobile 3D Mapping enables land surveyors to visualize, record, measure, and understand surrounding terrain.

The flexibility it offers is a massive time saver. What’s more, mobile 3D mapping removes the need for cumbersome equipment when collecting geospatial data. Versatile tools, handheld devices, and more makes it easier for land surveyors to collect and process data in real-time.

UAVs are a prime example of mobile 3D mapping, making it easy to collect geospatial data even without any personnel present.

What’s more, the tremendous amount of money pouring into the Mobile 3D mapping space will improve sensors, vehicle connectivity, and onboard processing. Ultimately leading to the proliferation of millions of mobile 3D mapping units worldwide that will provide abundant spatial information.

Data accessibility via LiDAR

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It is a form of 3D scanning that has been around since the 1960s and has for a long time be used to collect detailed 3D survey information about the earth’s physical characteristics.

LiDAR maps are typically gotten by attaching laser scanners to airplanes and helicopters to survey large areas of land. Other types of LiDAR include terrestrial (which maps topographical ground measurements) and Bathymetric LiDAR (which measures elevation in seafloors and riverbeds).

LiDAR has a wide range of applications, including agriculture, archeology, atmosphere, astronomy, and even physics – thanks to its ability to offer real-time point clouds. To cite an example of LiDAR’s application in archeology, it was used to rediscover the lost city of Mahendraparvata in the Cambodian mountains.

Although LiDAR is still expensive and reserved for only sophisticated land surveying projects, future trends show that the cost will reduce. When that happens, LiDAR will become more common in survey projects.

Cloud Storage

Scanning technologies are becoming more sophisticated in the last few years. Consequently, data is produced at an unprecedented rate. For the average surveying company, managing this data through its in-house IT infrastructure is becoming burdensome. On-site data storage is very expensive to scale.

That’s why many companies have been turning to cloud storage. Cloud storage facilities are owned by third parties that focus solely on protecting the integrity of their client’s data, thereby removing the burden of data protection from surveying companies. Hence, they can focus on what matters. This also helps to save costs on building new in-house IT infrastructure.

Also, cloud storage allows for better collaboration and efficiency. Data need not be needlessly replicated as they can be accessed from a single source. And since there’s centralized data storage, involved parties – including contractors, engineers, surveyors, and other stakeholders – can easily access field data like scans irrespective of their locations, making collaboration easier than ever.

Wrap Up

These are exciting times in the field of land surveying – thanks to a litany of technologies, from drones to robotics to LiDAR, that are enhancing land surveying processes. Artificial intelligence (AI) is another new technology that will take over a large chunk of tasks undertaken by surveyors in the future. The future for land surveying seems bright, but only time will tell what turn it takes.

If you’re looking for more information regarding land surveying, please reach out to us HERE today. We look forward to assisting you in any way possible.


The rising impact of robotics on land surveying

Laser ScanningLand surveying is one of the oldest engineering professions, dating back to the Bronze Age – and for a good reason. If you’re concerned about proper land development, then it’s important to have a strong grasp of the 3D positions of points and the distances and angles between them.

For the most part in the history of land surveying, humans have been the core feature, although several tools like theodolite have certainly made things easier. However, with the rise of automation and robotics in the 21st century, many industries are undergoing a massive transformation – and the land surveying industry isn’t excluded!

Although robotics is relatively new in land surveying, more companies are adopting it because of its benefits. And in a few years from now, the entire industry would have experienced a momentous shift. In this article, we explore some of the impacts of robotics on land surveying.

  • Improved Safety

While land surveying is a low-risk enterprise, there are still many inherent risks associated with the job. These risks range from attacks from wild animals to vehicle accidents to unsteady ground.

For instance, when surveying a congested area, surveyors are at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. Using robots to survey these high-risk areas minimize the risk of injuries for workers. Unlike humans, robots do not get distracted, so they’re better able to spot hazards. What’s more, an attack from a venomous snake or an insect’s sting does not affect robots.

And even in the eventuality that robot gets destroyed in an accident, they can be easily replaced – unlike human life, which is irreplaceable.

  • Speed and Efficiency

Machines are way faster and efficient for carrying out monotonous tasks like surveying. While a manual survey can take weeks, a robotic station can complete the same work in a few days.

In the past decade, drones have an increased role in land surveying because they can inspect land from a perspective humans can’t. Surveying from a bird’s-eye view makes drones way faster than foot surveys.

Land surveying also involves lots of mathematical calculations – and humans are prone to errors. Sophisticated robotic surveyors have in-built systems that automate these calculations, minimizing the possibility for error.

  • Reduced Cost

This is the direct result of the inefficiencies eliminated by robotics. Faster and more efficient processes typically cost less. Robotics have been shown to reduce the cost of some land surveys by up to $3,000. What’s better than having a faster, more efficient, and cheaper option to work with?

  • Accuracy and Precision

There’s a limit to how precise we can go due to our limitations as humans. On the other hand, machines can be designed with insane precision. For instance, technologies like the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) drones can measure areas to the centimeter – thereby providing access to precise data that were once thought impossible.

Asides from precision, robotics is paving the way for new measurable metrics. On top of traditional measurements, machine vision systems could start making atmospheric readings, thermal data, and land stability data.

  • Better Risk Assessment

Before land development begins, surveyors have to assess the area for potential risks. And during the first time, they have to do so without fully understanding the risks. Human surveyors can easily get distracted or miss a spot.

Conversely, robotic surveyors that are programmed to look for risks will do just that! Such machines can scan the area to look for potential hazards. But more interestingly, the data obtained can be fed into sophisticated computer algorithms to predict and assess future potential threats, like how the developed structures might be affected by flooding or earthquake. Better risk assessments invariably lead to the overall safety of the building industry.

  • Environmental Friendly

Although the land surveying industry isn’t carbon-intensive, some processes still produce undesirable emissions. Traditional tools run of fossil fuels, which release CO2 into the atmosphere. However, with the integration of robotics, these processes can be carried out more quickly and efficiently, reducing the amount of energy consumed per survey. What’s more, robots and drones can even be solar-powered, thereby eliminating the need for fossil fuels.

How Robotics Will Impact Surveying Jobs

While the benefits of robotics in surveying are awesome, a major concern has been how this new trend will affect land surveying jobs. Would people lose their jobs to robots? This has always been the question whenever automation replaces human labor.

The simple fact is that the rise of robotics will affect the jobs of humans in surveying. But rather than looking at it as a trend that will replace humans, it is better seen as a trend that will change the nature of humans’ jobs.

While fewer surveyors will be required on the field for labor-intensive measurements, more professionals will be needed to interpret the data obtained from robots and manage and maintain the robots. In summary, surveying will become more tech-oriented.

Contact us today for more information. We look forward to working with you on your next project!


Why are Land Surveys Important?

Land SurveysImagine a pilot flying an airplane with no GPS. Or imagine going to an unknown location with no map. How ridiculous does that sound? Irrespective of what you think, most people wouldn’t want to be in any of such scenarios.

Land surveys are the maps of a specified area. According to Wikipedia, land surveying is the technique, art, and science of determining the terrestrial or 3D positions of points and the distances and angles between them.

A land survey is usually the first step in a building process or home improvement project. It helps you know about the legal description of your property. Asides from helping you know precisely where your property begins and ends, a land survey tells you about the topography of your property.

A land survey is typically a prerequisite for a project that requires a planning permit. In this post, we explore the reasons land surveys are important.

Easements and Rights of Way

Modern cities are usually marked by an abundance of infrastructure. To maintain these infrastructures, state workers sometimes have to stay on private property. It’s also possible that a parcel of private land blocks entry into another property.

Easements provide a person with the right to use another’s property for a specific purpose. Rights-of-way are special kinds of easements that grant the holder the right to travel over another’s property.

Easements are typically paths or roads that allows for more freedom of movement. A property survey will reveal any easements on the property you intend to purchase. That way, you know what part of your property you have to share access with.

Preventing Encroachment and Adverse Possession

As a property owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you do not encroach on the properties of your neighbors and vice versa. An encroachment occurs when a property owner violates the right of neighboring properties.

Before you purchase a property, you have to ensure that no one has built on your property without permission. Similarly, before you put up a fence or extend your building, you have to ensure that it doesn’t encroach on your neighbor’s land. A land survey allows you to know the exact extent of your property and this helps to prevent encroachments down the line.

Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows a person to claim a property right in land owned by another. A land survey also lets you know of any adverse possession on a property.

Marking Boundaries With Certainty

During estate development, land parcels are divided by permanent boundary markers. These markers are placed on a property’s corners to indicate the boundary. But sometimes, these markers get removed, damaged, or even covered up.

Without these markers, it’s impossible to tell the boundaries of your property and that increases the likelihood of an encroachment. Even with the absence of these permanent markers, a land survey will help outline the accurate boundary of your property.

Meeting Legal Requirements

Many districts have legal requirements that require land surveys before certain projects or processes are allowed. For instance, if you are carrying out a major renovation that requires the extension of your building, you need a land survey before you can get your building permit approved.

Similarly, many lenders require a land survey before a mortgage can be granted. Asides from being a legal requirement, lenders also need one as part of their risk management process.

Presence of Utilities

Whether it be pipes, poles, or manhole covers, several utilities may pass through your property. With a physical inspection, it’s easy to spot above-ground wires or utilities. But what about those that are underground? With a land survey, you have full access to this information.

This info is important for several reasons. First, a utility company might have an easement on your property. That means they have a right to use a portion of your property – and you have to know that beforehand.

Similarly, the presence of those utilities may limit what you can do on your property. For instance, you might have to keep your tree length within a certain limit, so the root system doesn’t affect underground utilities.

Furthermore, a land survey allows you to carry out excavation or construction on your property without disturbing underground utilities.

Land History

The land you’re about to purchase might have been used for something you’re not cool with. For instance, maybe there is an old family burial ground in your backyard. You’d want to know where those are located, so you don’t mistakenly dig out someone’s grave. A land survey reveals the exact location of previous features on the property.

Wrap Up

As you have read, land surveys are extremely important to the ongoing process involving land acquisition, development, and regulatory issues. This is precisely why you should get one before you purchase a property. If you have any other questions in the meantime, please reach out to us here for more information.


ALTA Land Surveys

ALTA Land SurveysIn the real estate industry, land surveys are important. They give important details of a purchased land or property. Information given in a land survey depends on the survey type. The ALTA Land Survey is a prestigious land survey that stands high above its counterparts. This article goes into the details of what an ALTA Land Survey is, how useful it is, and when you might need one.

What is an ALTA Survey?

An ALTA Survey is a recognized land survey otherwise known as the ALTA/NSPS survey. ALTA stands for American Land Title Association and NSPS stands for the National Society for Professional Survey.

When it comes to real estate transactions, parties involved in the acquisition of a property wants a means of deducing a property’s integrity. Lenders, attorneys, landowners, and engineers need a common standard to judge the worth of a property without any disagreements. The issue is several people and institutions might have their tenets, which influence their appraisal of a property. To solve this problem, all transacting parties need to select a land survey that will benefit everyone.

The ALTA Survey is a survey that serves as a standard for transacting parties to work with. It depicts a property’s boundary lines, easements, structures, encroachments, improvements, and other vital information. It is a recognized survey and is useful in risky transactions. Compared to other surveys, the ALTA Survey is in a class of its own. It has a lot of detail and is rich in information. This makes it a preferred choice during financial transactions.

One interesting trivia of the ALTA/NSPS Land survey is that every five years it undergoes updates on the 23rd of February. Coincidentally, the 23rd of February is a day in roman festivals used to worship Terminus, the God of Boundaries.

Why is the ALTA Survey Widely Used?

When it comes to purchasing lands, history shows that people tend to fight when they don’t get the value for their money. Investing parties want properties that give them their money’s worth without having to worry about legal disputes and issues of property encroachment. To solve problems like this, boundary surveys are chosen. Boundary surveys show the boundary lines of a property and help solve land disputes. But despite the usefulness of boundary surveys, they fall short in several areas. Due to this, it will require a better survey to cover the shortcomings of a boundary survey. Therefore, ALTA surveys remain a popular choice. The ALTA survey does a better job than a boundary survey. It upholds national standards and carries information that would have been difficult to include in a boundary survey. This is one of the most important reasons for the widespread popularity of ALTA Surveys over other alternatives.

When Do You Need an ALTA Land Survey?

Lenders and title companies want detailed information and clarification when investing in a property. Due to this, they are most likely to ask for an ALTA survey. But Should you get one? Is it needed? When is it necessary? Well, let’s look at what an ALTA survey entails and the circumstances that should call for you to get one.

An ALTA survey is a survey carried out by a professional licensed Surveyor according to standards meted out by the American Land Title Association and the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping. This survey reflects important details such as the boundary lines of property, utilities, easements, encroachments, structures, fences, roads, and improvements that might dwell on land. Due to its comprehensive detail, this survey is generally used.

There are four major potential circumstances where it will be wise and proper to get an ALTA Survey:

  • Real Estate Commercial Transactions

You will likely need an ALTA survey if you are making a commercial acquisition of a property. Your lenders and insurance companies will want to have full information on the purchased property to avoid legal problems. Commercial properties can come with land disputes, encroachments, and boundary disputes. Hence, you and your lenders should have full knowledge of these ‘risks’ to avoid them. If perhaps, you are the one selling a commercial property, it might be wise to have your personal ALTA survey separate from that of your buyer.

  • Vacant Lands

When land is vacant or unoccupied, it is easy for complacency to set in. People tend to feel that a vacant land has no issues, but history shows otherwise. Vacant land might have a lot of problems that might haunt you. To avoid this, it is advisable to get an ALTA survey to check for boundary disputes, encroachments, and other issues that might cause you problems.

  • Lack of Details

ALTA Land Surveys are full of detail compared to their counterparts. As a result, they are expensive. If you have an interest in getting extensive detail of any acquired real estate, an ALTA survey will be the best fit.

  • Safety

An ALTA Land Survey affords a level of safety that other surveys don’t give. Because of the large amount of information it offers, an ALTA survey decreases the chances of getting a land fraught with problems.

Importance of an ALTA Survey

As said already, lenders and title companies will most likely ask for an ALTA Survey. This is enough reason to get one. Nevertheless, knowing the full benefits of getting an ALTA Survey is greatly helpful as it helps you in making reasonable and coherent investment decisions.

Below is a list of the benefits of getting an ALTA survey:

  • To verify a Purchase

When you buy a property, you and your lender will have to make sure that the property is worth the proposed amount and is free of problems. But how do you know if the land you want is what you got? Conducting an ALTA land survey will solve this problem as it will enable you to know if what you purchased aligns with the information in the survey. If the survey gives a negative report, you will be able to make relevant decisions before closing the transaction.

  • To Depict the Size and Location of Easements

Having adequate knowledge of easements on the property you acquire is important. An ALTA Survey, due to its in-depth nature, reveals in great detail the size and place of every easement that might be on the purchased property.

  • To Locate Improvements and Encroachments

An ALTA Survey depicts all the buildings and structures existing on a property. It also has more details on the buildings and structures resident on the land. That aside, the ALTA Survey reveals every property improvement and shows any encroachment of other people’s property.

  • To Judge a Propertys Access

When you buy a property, knowing the routes to your property is important. An ALTA Survey helps in showing all roads, alleys, highways, and routes that grant access to your property. It also shows any impeding structures that restrict access to the property and if certain easements are necessary to get across to it. Hence, it helps to have an ALTA survey to help you judge if the available access to a property is enough for your intended purpose.

  • To help Identify and Locate Utilities

Whatever might be the reason for you wanting to buy a property, you will want to know if the property has the utilities you want. An ALTA Survey helps in such a situation by showing all the utilities on the property and their various locations.

Conclusion

This article has shown what the ALTA survey does, when you need to get it and why it is of high-regard in the real estate industry. It is obvious that an ALTA survey, though expensive compared to its counterparts, serves as a standard for correctly appraising the value of a property.

Contact us today for more information.


7 Things You Must Know About Land Surveying

ALTA Land SurveyingYou’ve probably seen a land surveyor on a property peeking through a strange-looking device (theodolite) that’s rested on a tripod. If you’re like the average Joe, only one thought crossed through your mind, “What exactly is this person doing under this scorching sun?”.

A land surveyor makes use of special equipment to conduct measurements and evaluations of sites for private, public and government properties. These measurements involve determining the terrestrial or 3-dimensional positions of points and distances, as well as the angles between them.

Their evaluation helps to establish points on maps that are used to determine boundaries for ownership, location and more. Here are 7 things you must know about land surveying:

#1 Land Surveying is More Useful Than You Think.

When most people think of land surveying, they instinctively link it with some type of remodeling. However, there are several other instances where land surveying might be required. Some of which include:

  • Purchasing a new home.

While the construction process doesn’t require a survey, mortgage lenders mostly do. This is to ensure that the property is within its legal boundaries, eliminating the risk of potential encroachment problems in the future.

  • Settling a dispute

Neighbors sometimes disagree over encroaching property fixtures (like a fence or building). A land survey can help establish the facts. It also has a legal holding in court.

  • Home Addition

Before adding a storage shed or a new room, it’s important to make sure that it does not exceed your property lines to avoid legal troubles. A land survey can help with that.

#2 Although You’re Paying, You Don’t Dictate the Process.

The only job of a land surveyor is to determine the fact as dictated by history, science and math. Whether you want to build an extra foot as an addition to your home is none of their business. So, do not expect them to produce a survey in your favor.

After they determine the precise measurement of your property, they send it to the county recorder’s office. This means your survey becomes a public record.

Surveyors are held liable for mistakes in the surveys they produce and could be sued for them. That’s why they’re only concerned about getting their job done accurately.

#3 It’s Not an Easy Job

Land surveying is more than staying under the sun while looking through a theodolite — which by the way, isn’t your ideal working condition. Land surveyors also manage the historical and legal implications of their work.

If you’re wondering why land surveying is expensive, the amount of work they do makes it worth it. That’s why you also have to be certain that you need a land survey before you spend hundreds of dollars to get it done.

#4 There are Different Kinds of Land Surveyors

Land surveying is a broad profession with different specializations. Here are some of the processes of the most common types of land surveyors;

  • Construction/ Engineering

Often used by civil engineers, these types of surveyors study the changes in property lines. They also determine the precise location of buildings, roads, and other fixtures.

  • Geodetic

Geodetic surveyors employ satellite and aerial imaging to measure large areas on earth.

  • Boundary or land

Their primary duty is to determine the location of property lines with pinpoint accuracy. If you’re planning to purchase a property and you want to determine how far it extends or you want to build an addition to your property, this is the kind of surveyor you require.

#5 There are Different Types of Land Surveying

Just as there are different kinds of surveyors, there are also different kinds of surveying. The type you’ll go for is dependent on what your needs are. Some types include:

  • ALTA (American Land Title Association) Survey

It is carried when purchasing a home or property as it is required by a title company before issuing title insurance. Some mortgage lenders may also require one before providing loans.

  • Boundary Survey

It’s used to determine the boundary of a property. It is also used to resolve legal disputes, easements, and other land-related issues.

  • Location Survey

It is used to determine the precise location of property fixtures.

Other types include subdivision surveys, site-planning surveys, construction surveys, and topographic surveys.

#6 Your Phone GPS Can’t Do the Job

We get it, you’re using a GPS enabled device, and you’re a huge fan of DIY. Well, land surveying is not a task you can accomplish with the DIY approach.

Your smartphone’s GPS is accurate to about 15 feet. Contrast that with land surveying professional-grade GPS systems that are precise to the centimeter (Well, that’s why they cost thousands of dollars).

Using your phone to determine property lines will set you up for legal troubles in the future. That’s why you have to bear in mind that anything you get from it is only a “rough check.”

#7 A Land Survey is Good For a Decade

Once you complete your survey, it’s considered valid for the next 10 years. But why 10? According to the law, this is the duration in which the surveyor will be considered liable for the survey.

Have questions? Contact us here today.


Understanding the different types of land surveys

Understanding the different types of land surverysLand surveying is a very old concept. It can be traced to the time humans began to live in settlements defined by the boundaries of ancient tribes, and the idea of land ownership. Today, land surveying is a multi-billion industry with well-defined science.

Over the years, different types of land surveys have spawned for specific needs and use cases. In this post, we’re going to examine the major types of land surveys you may need to know for investment purposes or as part of your job.

What is Land Survey?

Land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of determining the terrestrial or 3D position of points and the distances and angles between them. These points are typically points on the Earth’s surface and they are usually used to establish land maps and boundaries for ownership, as well as locations (either building corners or the surface location of subsurface features). Land surveying may also be carried out for other government required or civil law purposes.

Licensed surveyors work with sophisticated field tools, make calculations, and take images to support their survey findings. Software solutions like AutoCAD are used to draft plans and map measurements.

Types of Land Surveys

Location Survey

A location survey involves the establishment on the ground of points and lines in positions which has been determined previously by computational or graphical methods or from data obtained from documents like deeds, maps, or other sources.

This survey focuses on the improvements on the property in relation to the clear boundary lines in the property. In terms of accuracy, it involves a physical inspection of the property by the surveyor and is typically accurate within a few feet.

Location surveys are generally cheap, costing a few hundred dollars (between $250 to $500), because of the minimal work required. Here is the importance of location surveys:

1) It is used to establish the location and existence of a property

2) It shows the relationship between the property and adjoining properties

3) It highlights the discrepancies between actual property use and record description.

4) It indicates the location of physical improvements in relation to property lines

5) It’s the easiest reliable way of obtaining basic information about a property.

Cautionary Tale

A couple recently bought their dream home in Richmond county with a big backyard for a swimming pool they’ve always wanted. Two years later when they decided to build the swimming pool, the city denied their application because only half of their ‘big backyard’ was theirs. With just a simple location survey, this could have been avoided.

Boundary Survey

As the name implies, a boundary survey is used to identify a property’s boundary lines and define the true property corners of a parcel of land. It also indicated the extent of any easement or encroachments and may show limitations imposed by local or state laws.

Easements may include utility lines crossing through the property. An encroachment, on the other hand, is the use of a piece of land by an unauthorized person.

A boundary survey is done by a crew of surveyors, where the actual property corners are marked and lines determined to produce a detailed plat or map. Boundary surveys are very accurate, with little to no margin of errors. For the surveyor, this means in-depth research of public records, field research, and measurements, as well as several calculations.

In terms of cost, boundary surveys are more expensive than location surveys because they require more time, manpower, and greater precision. Although boundary surveys are quoted individually, they can range anywhere from $750 to $2,000 for one acre or less.

Here are some of the importance of a boundary survey:

1) It helps to identify the place of the borders on the floor.

2) It ensures that your fences are properly positioned near or at limits.

3) It helps to identify if houses, driveways, and other structures are crossing your borders.

4) It highlights the possible causes of future conflict.

ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey

An ALTA/NSPS (formerly ALTA/ACSM) Land Title Survey is a complex survey product designed to aid individuals involved in commercial real estate deals. It is a comprehensive product that provides a detailed view of an existing property. It is typically used by the title insurer to delete or determine exception, or by the buyer and seller to access potential risk.

The ALTA/NSPS Title Surve is based on specific detailed requirements set forth by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and National Society for Professional Surveyors (NSPS) and that ensures that the end-user is provided with a professional-quality, uniform, an accurate and complete representation of a property.

When it comes to land surveys, an ALTA survey is the gold standard because it meets the highest standard recognized throughout the United States. ALTA surveys typically include property boundaries, location of the main building, easement and encumbrances, encroachments, land improvements, road and property features, zoning classification, water boundaries, legal property description, and more.

A boundary survey lacks much of this information as they are not as comprehensive at ALTA surveys. Due to their complexity, ALTA Land Surveys are typically performed on commercial properties.

Construction Survey

Construction surveys are used to establish where man-made objects such as highways, bridges, as well as buildings and pipes should be located. Careful attention is made to ensure that the structure does not encroach over designated easements or property lines. Thereafter, these points are staked out onto the property. Staking provides the construction personnel with directions for executing improvements shown on the development plans.

Conclusion

Land surveying is crucial to the process of responsible land development. While this post focused on four of the major types of land surveys, there are many other types. Some of which includes:

Site Planning Surveys

Subdivision Surveys

Topographic Surveys

Foundation Surveys

Geodetic Surveys… and more.

In short summation, the types of survey you require primarily depends on your needs and purpose. Contact us today for more information. We look forward to working with you.


The future of land surveying

The future of land surveyingSurveying technology has been around for as long as man has been constructing edifice structures on the land. Only the methods used for land surveying have evolved through the ages to make the surveyors’ job more efficient and their data more reliable. Now is no different. Even as you read, hundreds of technologies are disrupting traditional surveying methods, ushering a new era of land surveying with improved data collection, organization, and interpretation.

In this article, we look at the future of land surveying and the technologies that will impact the industry for years to come.

UAVs and Drones

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) such as drones might soon become industry standards for land surveying. A few years ago, drones equated to expensive business investment, but this in not the case today. More and more surveying firms are taking into account the immense benefits drones offer over traditional surveying methods, over terrestrial surveying, and manned aircraft.

Drones can cover large, difficult terrains in a much shorter time with much more accuracy. Surveyors can obtain data in remote, hazardous, and difficult-to-man terrains without risking their lives. Each image acquired bears high-accuracy and allows surveyors to extract exact and accurate data out of it, a feat that was otherwise unachievable with traditional methods.

In addition to this, data obtained from drones can be directly used with sophisticated tools and software to infer observations. Drones can integrate data to computer-aided design (CAD) to build real-time landscape models and other visual aids such as a 2D Orthomosiac map (top-down aerial view of the landscape), a 3D Orthomosiac Map (a bird’s-eye view of the landscape), and thermal maps (record heat levels in the area).

Some additional processing techniques such as real-time kinematics (RTK) and post-processing kinematic use satellite systems to improve data precision.

Cloud Storage of Data

As the scope of surveying increases and data becomes more accurate, the space required to store data also increases. While traditional data servers crash under the weight of such accurate and high-definition data, cloud storage has risen to the innovative occasion.

A cloud is a third-party data repository managed by said third-party. As opposed to traditional disks and servers, clouds enable companies to store high volumes of data without buying the infrastructure. They simply pay for the space they use. Surveying companies can do what they do best without having to worry about installing necessary data management software and updating it from time-to-time, thereby saving time and cost on IT enablement. Cloud-based software can also analyze powerful run-time data fast and give surveyors valuable data insights in a short time.

Data in the cloud is shareable, yet highly secured. All of the people involved in land surveying- surveyors, engineers, supervisors, managers, and clients can visualize data centrally. Such data-sharing is done in a controlled manner. Data owners have full rights to provide and revoke data access to specific parties without affecting the access to other involved parties.

All-in-all, cloud-based storage supports the modern-day surveying work model and saves time, energy, and the cost of managing and securing data while enabling seamless sharing with varying degrees of restrictions.

LiDAR

When we speak of the technologies involved in the future of land surveying, LiDAR deserves a notable mention. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It is a 3D laser scanning technique that uses ultraviolet, near-infrared, or visible light to measure distances between objects. It uses an in-built GPS receiver to detect nearby objects such as airplanes and helicopters. Then, using the laser and the scanner, it collects the light reflection properties and uses this data to create detailed data point clouds, which can then be used by surveyors to create 3D models of the terrain.

Different types of LiDAR are used across several different terrains. Bathymetric LiDAR is used for measuring elevations of seafloors and riverbeds from the air. Terrestrial LiDAR makes use of 3D-point clouds for mapping of terrains through topographical measurements. Airborne LiDAR uses 3D-point models to create digital elevation models (DEM).

Due to their increased flexibility, efficiency, and ability to provide faster insights using data point clouds, LiDAR is becoming an essential part of a surveyor’s toolkit and will continue to be utilized more frequently for surveying companies in the near future.

Mobile 3D Mapping

UAVs, LiDAR, cloud storage, and a variety of other technological adoptions have made it easy for surveyors and other stakeholders to create rapid mobile 3D mapping of data. Mobile 3D mapping refers to a geo-spatial data analysis using advanced imagery and measurement capture tools to visualize, record, measure, and study the surveying land insights irrespective of their location. It provides a quick, accurate, and comprehensive way to visualize data environments in some of the most impossible geographic terrains. This enables land surveyors to map those areas effectively which aren’t accessible to surveyors by traditional means. As a result, landscapes that would otherwise take weeks to survey can now be surveyed in days. Mobile 3D mapping has improved efficiency and productivity for surveyors.

Conclusion

Through years of surveying history, the purpose has always remained constant. Still, the tools we use for it, from ropes and pegs to drones, have significantly increased the speed and accuracy at which we map out land terrain details. Looking at the advancing technologies disrupting our everyday lives, it would suffice to say that for as long as technology is evolving, modern-day technology will continue to revolutionize the future of land surveying in unimaginably progressive ways.

If you have any specific questions regarding land surveying or a land project you would like feedback on, please feel free to reach out to us HERE today! We look forward to working with you.