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Combining Accuracy and Efficiency in Land Title Surveys

An Oklahoma company uses Trimble technology to improve productivity and avoid revisits for ALTA surveys

For land surveyors, commercial real estate deals in the U.S. can be challenging projects. There are specific standards to follow, which are jointly developed by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). And the scope of the work is broader than typical surveying; it’s not only about a property’s boundaries, but also about other details, including the location and characteristics of improvements on the property.

ALTA surveys often have pretty tight schedules, and the worksites can be complex. Then there are the clients; commercial real estate transactions bring together the needs of everyone from buyers and sellers to attorneys, title companies and lenders. With so much to think about, crews risk overlooking some details. Incomplete information or questions from clients can result in revisits that add time and cost.

Oklahoma #1

Experienced surveyors like Taylor Denniston know the drill. And they know the right tools to get the job done.

Denniston is GISP Director of Surveying and Mapping for Smith Roberts Baldischwiler (SRB) n Oklahoma City. Trimble hardware and software play a key role in Denniston and SRB’s work. In the field, Denniston and the SRB crews use the Trimble SX10 Scanning Total Station to make precise measurements to boundary markers and property features. They then use the scanning function to collect dense data over the entire site.

“We are able to do things that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish accurately with traditional surveying methods. The SX10 is just much easier and faster,” Denniston said.

The Trimble scanning total station really helps with Denniston’s top priority, which is ensuring the data is complete before he leaves a site. He said it’s not unusual for crews to spend multiple days on a project, capturing everything from buildings and utilities down to stripes in parking lots.

SRB’s Trimble solution delivers the productivity and accuracy such surveys demand. And when the field data arrives in the office, technicians find it’s easy to process survey measurements and scanning data in Trimble Business Center (TBC) software. They use TBC to produce 3D point clouds that are referenced
 to the property boundary. Then they develop the drawings and reports to meet ALTA standards.

The SX10 uses survey workflows already familiar to field and office staff, so they quickly get up to speed; SRB crews need less than a day to become proficient with the process.

In a recent project at a bank, Denniston encountered some unusual architecture. He was glad to have the SX10 Scanning Total Station for the job.

“It was very fancy and had numerous overhangs,” he said. “Using a total station, it would have been very difficult
 to give the office techs an idea of what it actually looked like. We used the SX10 and were able to capture the whole site in 3D.”

The field crews completed the survey of the bank in just one day, a savings of more than 50 percent over Denniston’s original estimate. And once they were done, the SRB office techs used the point cloud to get a good understanding of the building layout. They then created plan views of the bank and determined if there were any encroachments from the overhangs.

SRB saved additional time during the drafting phase.

“We didn’t need to shut down a crew for a few hours just so they could work with the drafters to make sure the drawings accurately depicted the site,” Denniston said. The techs used the 3D data to answer questions and to add new information (or features the survey crew missed) to drawings without returning to the site.

The SX10 gives SRB a pretty significant competitive advantage. It enables SRB crews to capture more information in less time.

“We are moving more and more towards this type of data collection,” Denniston said. “The SX10 delivers tangible benefits to our clients.”

To read more stories about the SX10 click here.