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Site Surveying CA2

Richard McKenna

Internal Examiner:

Des Kelly

External Examiners:

Dr. Elaine McDonald & Mr. Tom Rowan


B.Sc. (Hons) in Design and Technology Education

Module Title:

Building Structure and Technology

Date Submitted:

27th November, 2014


Task for Transition Year




What Is Land Surveying?


Different Aspects of Land Surveying




Equipment Used


Setting up Procedure


Using the Level

Bench Mark


Reading the Level


Flying Level


Chain Surveying
Direct Linear Measurements


Procedure Undertaken, During Our Survey




Cross Section of Sewer Pipe


Chain Surveying Sketches




Task for Transition Years.

In groups, you are required to survey a specified site and carry out the following surveying
procedures as directed:
Direct linear measurement.
Setting up and using an optical level.
Correct data booking procedure.
Setting out a building.
Flying levels.
Chain surveying
Drawing of maps, profiles and contours.
Vertical cross sections
Students are required to produce a report on their practical survey sessions detailing the
Introduction to surveying.
Information on the equipment used.
Procedures undertaken during the survey.
Correctly booked data and calculations.
Carefully drawn map of survey site showing existing and proposed buildings
(Drawn by hand or in AutoCAD).
Cross-sectional drawing of survey site with sewer pipe at correct gradient.

Site surveying or land surveying involves inspecting and drawing up plans of an area,
including the height and contours of the land. The survey is used to calculate the cost of the
construction project and to highlight any problems with topography of the land. The survey
first looks at the site as a whole and then analyses each section in turn.
There are many types of survey that can be carried out on a site. The main types look at:

Footings for the building
Setting out the building
The surveyors work (a check survey)

In order to carry out the first four survey types, various types of measuring equipment are
used which will be explored later. Measurements are taken from known points around the
site, such as buildings, boundary lines, etc. measurements from these known points can
then be used to measure the distance and height of other areas of the site.
Measurement surveys follow a four-stage process:
1. Planning: It is important to plan before surveying an area. Setting points on or near
the site as datums (reference points)
2. Collecting and recording measurements: this involves using a theodolite, a piece of
equipment rather like a telescope, which can measure angles from the horizontal
and vertical (Fig 1).
3. Processing measurements: Once the measurements have been recorded they are
assessed and used for making calculations.
4. Drawing up: The calculations of various heights, angles and distances are used to
draw up the topography of the site.
Some modern surveying instruments use GPS location to provide co-ordinates and datums
for measurement.

What is land surveying?

Surveying is the practice of taking measurements of features, on and occasionally below the
earths surface to determine their relative positions of physical features on the ground so
that they can be represented on a scaled drawing.
Land surveys may be required for geographical, agricultural, geological, construction
and other purposes, Land surveying for construction will ensure that the construction takes
place in the correct relative and absolute position on the ground.
Land surveying should be distinguished from quantity surveying, building surveying
and other forms of surveying.
The person that carries out the survey is known as the surveyor, qualified in this line of
work, with a technical expertise to:

Practice the science of measurement

Assemble and assess land and geographic related information
Use that information for the purpose of planning and implementing the efficient
administration of the land, the sea and structures thereon
Instigate the advancement and development of such practices.

Surveying has been around ever since, man decided that one piece of land would belong to
his people, and not another. Surveying have been dated back to the beginning of recorded
history CA 5000 years ago.
In ancient Egypt, the nearly perfect square, north-south orientation of the Great
Pyramid of Giza, built c. 2700 BC, confirms the Egyptians use of surveying.

Different aspects of land surveying

Plane surveying

Geodetic surveying

Most common method used, which treat the world as

flat which measures less than 15km

This Method takes into account that the earth is a

round & is conducted over long distances.


Engineering surveying

Produces three dimensional drawings of a particular

piece of land or area

The production of plans: That records the position of

features, when dealing with the construction industry.

Cadastral Surveys

Hydrographic Surveys

Determines boundaries of property, or country /

county borders

Maps, sea; lake and river beds, and flood plains

Back Sight: (BS)
A back-sight is a reading taken on a position of known coordinate(s). Since a survey progresses
from a point of known position to points of unknown position, a back-sight is a reading looking
"backward" along the line of progress.
The first reading of almost any survey job should be a back-sight onto a fixed point of reference,
usually a benchmark of some sort.
First reading taken on the staff after the level has been set up.

Bench Mark (BM)

This is the physical mark on a wall, building or pavement which is a known height above the OD.
These marks were once arrowheads chiselled into stone.
Modern marks consist of rivets secured to the pavements, the top of the rivet being the level.

Change Point (CP)

Changing point is a point on the ground where the staff is held in position while the level is moved
to a new location.
The final reading on the staff before the level is moved is booked as a foresight.
The first reading on the staff from the new level location is booked as a back-sight.

The depth to be excavated or back filled to give the required formation level

Foresight (FS)
A foresight is a reading taken on a position of unknown coordinate(s). Since a survey progresses
from a point of known position to points of unknown position, a foresight is a reading looking
"forward" along the line of progress.
Foresights may be taken on the "main circuit" of the survey or on additional points of interest.
Readings on additional points of interest are sometimes called side shots
Last reading taken on the staff before the level is moved.

Formation Level (FL)

The height above the Ordnance datum of the base of an excavation prior to construction
Level of base of trench

Height of Collimation (HOC) / Height of Instrument (HOI)

This refers to the height of the telescopes horizontal level above the Ordnance datum.

Intermediate sight (IS)

Any staff reading taken between a back-sight and foresight.

Ordinance datum (OD)

This is the base reference plane for all levels in Ireland and corresponds to a mark at Malin head.
All levels are given above this mark. (Also commonly referred to as sea level)

Reduced Level (RL)

This is the height of a point above the Ordnance datum

Temporary Bench Mark (TBM)

Marks placed on site that is used for the duration of the construction project to transfer levels
around the site. (Usually wooden pegs, steel spikes, steel plates or concrete.)

Equipment Used
Automatic Level


Telescopic staff

Set on the tripod, adjustable legs,

screwed from the underneath of
the tripod used along with the
staff to obtain various heights

The head of the Tripod supports

the level, while the feet are
spiked into the ground, providing

Is used with optical levels &

coordinates when surveying,
marked every 100mm it is further
divided by coloured squares that
are spaced 10mm apart
The "E" pattern is
designed to make
it easy to read a
small section of
the scale when
seen through a

Twine / Rope



Used for driving the stakes

For setting out the boundary to

take heights from.

Used with the stakes, when

setting out the boundary, also for
measuring the chainage.

Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE)

Tape measure

Open Reel Measuring Tape

High Vis vests, due to working on

the road side

For the longer measurements

For taking measurements





Setting up procedure

Setting up the level

Open the tripod carrying straps & Extend legs,
Place tripod into position.
If the ground is sloping, place two legs towards the downfall of the slope with the 3rd leg at
the top of the slope to give it extra support.
Ensure the height is at a workable height to allow you to look through the lens. (Adjust legs
to adjust height)
Wedge the legs into the soil for extra support (fine adjustments can now be made to each
leg if required, *tighten up the locking screw when finished.
Put the level on top of tripod, attaching it with the bolt underneath.
Turn foot screws A and B, simultaneously in opposite directions until the
bubble is center.
Rotate the level 90 degrees in either direction so the bubble is
aligned with the third leveling screw.
Check that the bubble stays level by rotating the level 360 degrees.

1. Endless drive (both sides)

2. Bubble level (to check horizontal plane)
3. Mirror to view bubble level
4. Base plate (sits on tripod)
5. Foot-screw (to adjust the horizontal plane)
6. Eyepiece (focus adjustment
7. Knurled ring (for horizontal circle reading)
8. Objective
9. Course aiming devise
10. Focusing knob (turn until staff reading is
clearly visible)
11. Window for digital angle reading (see7)


Using the level

When first looking through the telescope rotate the eye piece to bring the reticule into
sharp focus, failure to do this will give false readings.
The picture below displays a vertical and horizontal line dividing the view. The middle
horizontal line marks the horizontal plane through the telescope (HOC) and is used for all
height readings.
Please note the two stadia lines stadia are used for measuring the distance to the staff.

In the example above the distance between the top and bottom stadia hair is 62 mm.
Therefore, the distance to the staff is 62 100 = 6200 mm or 6,2 metres.
(The stadia distances have a low level of accuracy; 1mm error in staff reading gives an error
distance of 0.1meter)

Bench Mark
Firstly a bench mark needs to be established.
Bench marks are found in various locations
throughout Ireland, in various locations i.e. churches
and bridges.
The picture to the right, is the symbol of the BM, This
will be carved into the stone to establish the BM.
Each one is linked to Malin Head.


Reading a Level
Level staffs are broken up into five
centimetre sections and have
heights marked every 0.1m
Note: two Es fit into 0.1 metre

The staff is read upward from the height label which

appears below the cross hair reading 1.3
For the second part of the measurement read the
centimetres upward from the marking to the cross-hair.
The reading is: 0.022
Total Reading: 1.322

Staff Readings

Upper Stadia = 2.129

Cross-hair = 2.041
Lower stadia = 1.958

Upper stadia = 3.654

Cross-hair = 2.57
Lower stadia = 3.481


Flying Level
Flying levelling is used to transfer the level of a BM to a TBM on site.
Consists of booking BS and FS only.
The level is set up repeatedly between staff positions which start at the BM and end at the
In order to check accuracy, it is usually customary to repeat the procedure in the reverse
direction afterwards - only BS & FS are recorded.
The difference between BS & FS pairs equals the difference in ground level between both
Distance is booked as a rise if positive and a fall if negative.
Difference between the sum of all individual rises and falls will equal the height difference
between BM and TBM- also the difference between sum of the BS & and the sum of the FS.


Chain Surveying

1800s, 66 Surveying Chain

The term chain surveying refers to the system of measuring a site using a tape measure,
ranging rods and arrows.
Modern chain surveying is carried out using a fibreglass tape,
The term chain has remained.

One of the main tools of the trade was the surveying chain, a set of metal links of standard
size, heavy enough to require the services of a chain bearer for surveying trips.
Along the chain were small disks that gave the length of the chain
at that point
A chain is a unit of length; it measures 66 feet or 22 yards or 100 links (20.1168m).

Direct Linear Measurements

One of the fundamentals of surveying is the need to measure distance.

Distances are not necessarily linear, especially if they occur on the spherical earth.
Geodetic Surveys
Plane Surveys
Needless to say many varied methods have been developed over the millennia to measure
distances, and depending on the desired quality of the result, many of these are still current


Procedures Undertaken During Our Survey

Firstly we set up the level, establishing a Bench Mark at the car park entrance to GMIT.
We then took the following steps to get to the manhole on the site in question:

Took a back-site from the bench mark giving us a fore-site.

From the fore-site we took an intermediate site as we moved the level to a new
position, giving a new height of combination.

Lastly we placed the staff on the manhole on the site in question.

Booking of Data
















Top step


TBM (M-hole)

Chain Surveying the Site

Once we had the TBM (manhole) established, we used this as a reference point throughout
our survey. We set out our frame with the wooden pegs, hammer and line. To save time we
lined up wooden peg A and B with the existing building, giving us a good reference point at
the same time defining the chain survey.
Once pegs A, B, C and D where in place, we measured between each peg along with the
diagonals between A and C, B and D. We then split into groups recording the various data
measuring the curve of the road, windmill, bollards, trees, boundary wall, and car park edge
basically anything of importance to complete this survey. Once all the date was gathered we
returned to a room where we compiled all our information to allow is to complete a full
AutoCAD image of the site in question.


Auto cad of Surveyed Site

Details on image
o Existing building

o Cars

o Proposed building

o Wind Turbine

o Road site

o Chain Surveying

o Car park

Footpaths to building

Disabled ramp

Boundary wall


Neighbouring GMIT buildings


Procedures Undertaken During Our Survey

Cross Section for Proposed Sewer Pipe
To complete this part of the survey, which was to show a cross section of a sewer pipe from
the existing man hole falling in the direction of the road. To comply with building
regulations the fall must be no less that 1:40 Meters and be 900mm underground.
At this stage we ran a tape measure and at 1meter intervals establishing the slope of the
land towards the road. (See table below).
Distance from
manhole (Meters).



Cut / Fill




































Direct Linear Measurement Task

Place two wooden pegs an unknown distance apart. (approx. 200m)

Using direct linear measurement, determine the distance between them as

accurately as possible.

1. Drive a wooden peg into start and end of line to be measured. Place a ranging rod
behind each peg.
2. Starting at one end, The follower holds the tape to the peg while the leader
walks with the 10 arrows and the third ranging rod in the direction of the other peg.
3. When the leader has travelled approx. 20m, he/she drops it on the ground and
comes back approx. 50 cm.
4. The leader holds the ranging rod between thumb and forefinger so it hangs freely.
5. The follower sights all three ranging rods and directs the leader using hand singles to
ensure they are perfectly in line.
6. The leader straightens the tape so that it runs by the side of the ranging rod. ripple
tape several times to ensure it is straight.
7. When satisfied that the tape is perfectly in line, the leader inserts an arrow at the
twenty meter mark.
8. The leader takes up the ranging rod, the tape and the remaining arrows and moves
on. The follower picks up his/her ranging rod and follows on.
9. When the follower gets to the arrow, he/she inserts the ranging rod into the ground
behind it and proceeds as before to range the leader again.
10. Each time the follower moves forwards, he/she picks up the arrow.
11. The final measurement will be a fraction of twenty meters and is read off the tape as
the distance to the second peg.
12. The total length of the line is the sum of the final tape reading plus the number of
arrows in the followers hand times twenty meters.


Chain Surveying Sketches


After completing this CA, I learned a good amount or more so a lot of information was
retrieved from my LTM as I would have completed various aspects of surveying while
completing my apprenticeship in FAS, although when in FAS it was thought in the
classroom, so it was good to put all of this into practice and experience firsthand how to
take the measurement and read the staff through the level.
If I were to teach this in school I think I would aim it at the TY group, as there is a lot of
active learning involved.
From this survey it highlighted that team work is very important, as we were split into
groups to conduct certain parts of the survey and then compile all our information. It is vital
that everyone pulls their weight and does their part which is how we all worked as a team in
this CA.

Kelly, D. Lecture Notes.
Bannister, A., Raymond, S., & Baker, R. (1998). Surveying. Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman.