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Setting Out,
Alignment & Verticality.

1.0 Setting Out, Alignment and Verticality

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Base or Primary Setting Out

1.2.1 Base Control Points

1.2.2 Transferred Setting Out Point
1.2.3 Bench Mark
1.2.4 Temporary Bench Mark (TBM)

1.3 Day to Day Detail Survey

1.3.1 300mm Offset Line

1.3.2 Concrete Level Survey
1.3.3 Kicker Level Survey
1.3.4 Deviation Survey
1.3.5 Analysis of Survey Results
1.3.6 Method of Adjustment
1.3.7 Deviation Survey Not Making Sense
1.3.8 Plumb and Alignment of Walls

1.4 Keeping of Survey Records

1.5 Miscellaneous:

- Simplified Plan of Marking Out Principles

- Control and Adjustment of Vertical Alignment by Packing
- Everyday Survey Check
- Bench Marks
- Plumbing
- Buildings and Tall Structures

1.0 Setting Out, Alignment and Verticality

1.1 Introduction

In order to achieve the dimensional and vertical accuracy that is possible with the MFE System
Formwork it is absolutely necessary that the survey control for the building is maintained both
accurately and systematically.

In the first instance the base survey for the building, meaning the primary setting out lines and
reduced level bench marks must be established accurately. These survey control points must also
be transferred accurately up the building as work progresses.

In the second instance the day to day detail survey, meaning marking out of wall alignment and
column positions, kicker level survey, concrete level survey and deviation report must also be
carried out accurately.

Some of the work is usually carried out by the main contractor or by his setting out sub contractor.
However, because of the major impact that surveying and particularly survey accuracy has on the
formwork positioning and thereby the as cast concrete position you must fully understand survey
control and how it affects the formwork.

1.2 Base or Primary Setting Out

The base or primary setting out means the reference lines and levels from which all survey work
should originate from and which all survey work should close back to.

The base survey in terms of our building work means the transferred setting out points and the
temporary bench marks (TBM’s). The Transferred Setting Points and TBM’s should themselves
originate from Base Control Points for the building. The definition of these terms is listed below and
a simplified plan of setting out principles is attached at the back of this section.

1.2.1. Base Control Points

Transfer of base control points using Laser Plumb should be up to 4 floors only to contain the
errors being committed during the process. New reference points should be established at 5 floors
by an experienced Surveyor using Total Station referring on the base control points from ground.
Refer to the attached typical layout plan and textbook extracts showing suggested methods of
setting out and transferring these base control points.

1.2.2. Transferred Setting Point

These are the Base Control Points that have been transferred up to the current working level.


1.2.3 Bench Mark

This is the reduced level from which all other level measurements on the site are referenced. It is
usually established by Government or registered surveyors.

1.2.4 Temporary Bench Mark (TBM)

The TBM is the level mark for the current working level.
They should be established on every working floor using steel pins or nails secured into the
concrete floor slab. They are transferred each time from the previous TBM.

They are the reference level for the given floor, they are used as the bench mark against which the
kicker level and concrete level surveys are carried out.

Please refer to attached textbook extract for examples of typical TBM’s.

1.3.0 Day to Day Detail Survey

The day to day detail survey means the setting out measuring and leveling carried out on every
floor cycle to ensure that the formwork has been set accurately to line, level and verticality. You are
reminded that if the MFE Formwork is to achieve the accuracy that it is capable of the Day to Day
Detail survey control must be carried out accurately for every concrete pour.

The definitions and explanations of typical terms used on a project are given below. Please also
refer to the simplified plan of setting out principals attached at the back of this section.

1.3.1 300mm Offset Line

This is the setting out line that is “snapped” onto the concrete surface.
It is offset normally 300mm from the internal face of the external wall. It’ purpose, is to assist on the
checking of formwork alignment / verticality.
With such lines, alignment of vertical reinforcement bars including M&E works can be checked &
adjusted prior to installation of the formwork. This will also ease wall alignment.

1.3.2 Concrete Level Survey.

By this we mean the level of the concrete surface along the entire plan length of the yet to be
erected inside face wall formwork again the most critical points being the corners.
The level survey is taken from the TBM for the current floor and is carried out immediately after
concreting the floor so that analysis of the levels and corrective action, if necessary, can be carried
out prior to the next erection of formwork.

1.3.3 Kicker Level Survey

This means the reduced level of the “kicker” along the entire plan length of the yet to be erected
outside face of the external walls. The level survey is taken from the TBM for the current floor and
is carried out immediately after concreting the floor so that analysis of levels and adjustment of
kickers, if necessary, can be carried out prior to the next erection of formwork. Again the most
critical points are the corners.

1.3.4 Deviation Survey.

This is a measure of the horizontal deviation of the as built plan position of each wall relative to the
design position. The survey is also carried out after concreting and immediately after the new plan
alignments for the walls have been marked out on the current slab. The most critical points are
again at the corners.

1.3.5 Analysis of Survey Results

The results of the deviation survey, kicker level and concrete level survey have to be analyzed for
each and every floor. Corrective action (concrete chipping) and or adjustment (by packing or
sometimes lowering in the case of the kickers) must be carried out before commencing erecting of
the formwork for the current floor.

1.3.6 Method of Adjustment

The principal control and adjustment for vertical alignment of the building using MFE formwork is
through the kicker and concrete levels. Further adjustment if necessary can be made with props
but this should be kept to a minimum as it can distort the formwork.

The principal measure of achieved vertical alignment is the deviation survey.

The assumption made is that when fully pinned and wedged the formwork forms a relatively rigid
frame. It follows that packing (using plywood shims) or lowering (by chipping concrete or by using
the slotted holes in the kicker) one side of the frame will push in or pull out the plan position of the
top edge of the frame, please refer to attached sketch “Control and Adjustment of Vertical
Alignment by Packing”.

The deviation survey must therefore be analyzed first, any locations that show the wall leaning out,
will require the packing of the kicker in the same plan location to bring in the wall on the next cast.
As a general rule the maximum of 6mm to be adjusted over one floor. If the deviation reports,
shows a deviation from plumb in two directions then this should be improved over two floors, one
for each direction.

The kicker level and concrete level surveys are reviewed together with the deviation report. A
comparison of the information from both sources allows cross checking of the results. At the same
time the level surveys will tell you if the floor to floor heights are being maintained or are they
creeping up, which sometimes happens with grout build up between Wall and T panels i.e. 2 -
3mm per floor over 10no floors can develop a creep of + 25mm.

Concrete up to (+ 6mm high) is acceptable, above 6mm must be chipped to the correct level.
Any low points should be packed to the correct level.
Note: in certain cases it is good practice to mark ( + ) plus or ( - ) minus as the survey is being
carried out. This eliminates unnecessary circulation of paper and the supervisor can identify at a
glance adjustment work that is necessary.

Any high points on the kicker level survey will need to be adjusted downward by means of the
26mm slotted hole in the kicker that allows for this kind of adjustment.

1.3.7 Deviation Survey Not Making Sense?

If for some reason the deviation survey results do not make sense it is easy to check and confirm
the results over a number of floors by hanging a plumb bob down the 2 or 3 floors and checking the
deviation of the concrete face between floors.
This method of check can confirm if the survey results are correct or incorrect.

1.3.8 Plumb and Alignment of Walls

Once wall formwork has been fixed in position every wall must be checked for verticality (deviation
correction allowed for) using a plumb bob for trueness of alignment using a string line.
See “Everyday Survey Check” sketch attached at back of this section.
Optional for this scope of work is the use of an Auto Cross Laser Instrument which is highly
recommended allowing you to check alignment or verticality of the Formwork at any location with
one setting of the Instrument achieving more efficiency and better accuracy being the advantage of
using such an instrument. You can refer to page 11 of this document for a clearer understanding of
the instrument being referred to.

1.4 Keeping of Survey Records

The survey record for the kicker level, concrete level and deviation report must be kept in the job
file for every single pour. This is a must and the responsible engineer must ensure the record is
kept and maintained.

1.4.1 First Time Setup

It is very beneficial to spend additional time with the setup of the first pour. Even if it takes an extra
day to get the level and alignment correct this will pay big dividends later on in the project by way of
better quality, easier cycle and less remedial works.

Tip: It is always easier to pack than to chip concrete or lower the kickers so set the first time
concrete pour at - 10mm to give yourselves more adjustment to play with.

1.5 Miscellaneous

- Simplified Plan of Marking Out Principles

- Control and Adjustment of Vertical Alignment by Packing
- Everyday Survey Check
- Bench Marks
- Plumbing
- Buildings and Tall Structures






The advantage of using such an instrument allows you to check alignment or verticality of the
Formwork at any location with one setting achieving more efficiency & better accuracy.
It’s suitable for both leveling & alignment applications.

Instrument to the left provides 3no Vertical & 1no Horizontal

Instrument to the left provides 4no Vertical & 3no Horizontal.

The 3no horizontal laser lines produce a 3600 laser line.
The 4no vertical laser lines are at 900 to each other forming a
cross overhead.

For an example to the left show what a 4no Vertical

3no Horizontal provides

Bench Marks

Each side should have a primary bench mark which may be :

A convenient nearby Ordnance Bench Mark
Referenced to an Ordnance Bench Mark
Referenced to a given level on existing works
The supervising authority should specify which is to apply. If an
Ordnance Bench Mark is to be used but which one has not been
specified, obtain the current local list of Ordnance Bench Marks
(see Appendix C) and agree which to use with the supervising

In addition to the primary bench mark, it will be necessary to set

up secondary bench marks unless all leveling can conveniently be
referred to the primary bench mark. Secondary bench marks are
commonly called temporary bench marks (TBMs).

To ensure accurate primary and temporary bench marks :

Establish primary bench mark* from the agreed
Ordnance Bench Mark or from existing works and
agree level in writing with the supervising authority.
Plan positions of TBMs in good time, taking account of
temporary and permanent works (all points of the
works should, where possible be within 40 m of a TBM)
Verify the levels of previously established TBMs by
leveling from the primary bench mark.
Establish TBMs not more than 80 m apart. Closing
error to primary bench mark must not exceed 5 mm.
Use existing permanent features for establishing bench
marks whenever possible (see illustrations)
Where no permanent feature is available for a bench
mark, establish it in firm ground and mark as shown in
the illustration.
Protect bench marks from site traffic as necessary
If assumed datum has been used for scheme, as
shown on contract drawings, check with the
supervising authority that this datum may be used.
Record position, reference number, level and date last
checked of each TBM and the primary bench mark on
the site plan.
Display copy of site plan or list of bench marks with
details in site offices
Check levels of TBMs at regular intervals*
Report any apparent disturbance of TBMs
Update displayed plan list of TBMs
Transfer levels from TBMs to permanent works as
soon as practicable
Remove redundant TBMs

*BRE leveling station can conveniently be used. See Cheney.J.E.

in Bibliography
*Warning: Earthworks and ground settlement, heave, expansion
or contraction can affect TBMs



Plumbing of modest accuracy can be achieved with a good quality 1-m

spirit level, but other methods must be used as the height and or need
for precision increases.

Use of plum bob

In the example shown, a freshly concreted wall is checked for
verticality. The plumb bob is suspended from a piece of timber nailed
to the top of the formwork and shielded from the wind or immersed in
a pail of oil or water. Offsets from the back of the form are measured
at top and bottom with due allowance for any steps or tapers in the
wall. Any necessary adjustments are made with a push-pull prop.

Use of Total Station

The formwork for a tall column form is being plumbed in the example.
A Total Station is set up on a plane parallel but offset to one face and
sighted on suitable offset marks at the top. (Observe both edges to
check on twist.) Similar observations are made on the bottom of the
form. Any discrepancy in verticality (mean of observations on left and
right face) is read at the bottom for convenience and the column form
adjusted. The whole process is then repeated for the adjacent face.
Sighting at a steep angle above the horizontal is facilitated by using a
diagonal eyepiece.

Note : The Total Station must be some distance from the column
for accuracy this may be impossible on a cramped site.

Use of optical plumbing instrument

The operation is relatively simple as follows:-
Set up and level instrument over ground station
Sight down and center over ground station
Sight up (through second telescope or by operating prism
mechanism) onto target and mark a defined point
Turn instrument through 900 ,1800 and 2700 in horizontal
plane to define three further points
Intersection of diagonals joining four points lies on vertical
line through ground point

Optical plumbing is particularly useful for ensuring the accuracy of lift

shafts, slip formed structures and climbing forms. The example shows
the use of an optical plumbing instrument in a lift shaft using Perspex
targets fixed at the top levels. At least three ground stations should be
used to check for possible twisting.

Use of lasers
Lasers can be used to define a vertical line or plane.

Buildings: tall structures

The primary instruments for plumbing are:
Plumb bob
Total Station
Optical plumbing instrument
The principles of use are described under Plumbing.

Verticality and twist

Tall structures must be checked for verticality and twist. This is best
achieved by plumbing up or down from four points.

Rectangular structures
The use of an optical plumbing instrument to control the verticality of a
multi-storey building is illustrated.
Within multi-storey buildings, the plumbing of list shafts is particularly
critical operation because the installation tolerances are small. Four
setting-out points should be established at the base of the lift shaft
such that the vertical lines through them will not be obstructed by
formwork or scaffolding. Plumbing can be from top to base using
plumb bobs or from base to top using an optical plumbing instrument.
The latter is preferable if a plumb bob would be disturbed by winds.
See illustration under Plumbing.

Tapered structures
To plumb a tapered column or similar structure:
Set out orthogonal center-lines on the base
Plumb from top corners (plumb bob or Total Station)
Check equality of offsets on all four sides
If the structure narrows toward the top, it will be necessary to
cantilever out from the top of the formwork to fix plumb bobs.

Height and level

Floor-to-floor dimensions are controlled by a weighted steel tape
measuring each time from a datum at the base of the structure. Each
floor is then provided with datum marks in key positions from which to
transfer levels on each floor.
The base datum level should be set in a location which allows
unrestricted taping to roof level. If a tower crane is used,`` a tape can
conveniently be fixed to the mast (see illustration)

Warning: Errors, apparent or real, can result from

differences in thermal movement of the tape
relative to that of the building particularly if
construction spans a number of seasons.