Effective Site Surveying

Manage projects through effective site surveying.


What do you like most about your work? When corporations survey their employees, they are often surprised as to the overwhelming answer regarding this question. Most employees choose job satisfaction over money, perks and benefits. Further studies find that job satisfaction is directly related to...


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Common office supplies are needed: scissors; clipboards; glue sticks; Smarty markers; red pencils; fastener file folders; printing labels; legal tablets; and copy paper.

You will need measuring tools. A stiff 20-foot measuring tape is needed to measure doors and door hardware and a drafting scale is needed to "pop" measurements from blueprints.

You will need a plain digital camera capable of at least 3.2 mega-pixels.

You will need a USB thumb-drive with at least 512 megabytes of storage capacity. The thumb-drive will be used to transfer your database (in XLS spreadsheet format), to-and-from your laptop to other computers.

Gather company resources

Before starting your site survey, gather as many company resources as possible. Collect lists of building contacts; support vendors; and emergency contacts. Obtain your own scaled copies of blueprints of the floor plan of areas to be surveyed.

These plans will be too large to carry around so you will cut your blueprint up into uniform squares. With a pencil, draw 7-1/2" x 7-1/2" squares onto the floor plan. Carefully cut the grids out. With a glue stick, carefully paste each square onto a sheet of 8-1"x11" copy paper. Position the square so that there is a 1/2" margin on the left, bottom, and right of each sheet. When all squares are mounted to sheets, designate a consecutive number or letter to each sheet. When the glue is dry, scan each sheet. Save each scan into a PDF format.

Compiled as noted above these sheets allow you to carry you blueprint on a clipboard (see Figure 3). Later the compilation will be used like a "Thomas Guide," relating to door locations.

Standardize everything

You will be taking a lot of pictures. Standardize on a uniform format.

After tens-of-thousands of door pictures, I would pass the following hints.

Always shoot at the widest possible setting; and at the highest practical resolution.

Use a minimum of a 3.2 mega-pixel for the 300 dpi resolution you will want to standardize on. Set your camera to a 2048x1536 setting to obtain this. This will deliver a 300dpi image at about a 5"x7" real-world setting. This setting guarantees that images can be easily viewed on monitors and paper alike. It allows for fair amount of zooming in when editing. It creates a file size that is not too big to be attached to E-mails.

Standardize on a photo format. I prefer .JPG as most persons can open this type of image on their computers.

While scanning documents, save to a .PDF format. This is a format that can be read by most persons using a free viewer called Adobe Acrobat.

Before starting, standardize on a set of abbreviations. This will save you a lot of time, keep your data readable, and make searching on key words accurate.

Visit the post office website to obtain nationally accepted abbreviations that pertain to your site surveys. Try this link to get to the abbreviations: www.usps.com/ncsc/lookups/usps_abbreviations.html.

The most important standardization relates to all of your reports. Whatever you generate, be sure to use 8-1/2"x11" standard letter size documents, in portrait mode, in black and white. Use a clear font that is easily read by both human and scanner.

Setting up prior to a survey event

Arrange to get a set of working keys to all areas of the survey. This gets you in and out in a timely manner.

Send out an announcement to all concerned when and where you will be surveying.

Arrange to occupy a lockable conference room or office to stage your "temporary office".

Create a lot of "door tag" labels. Stay away from preprinted labels. Although they can be more durable, especially mylarized plastic labels, they cannot be reprinted if you need to reproduce numbers. I prefer the 1" x 2-5/8" labels on letter size sheets. This makes it easy to carry. (See Figure 4)

If you place the labels where there is grease or dirt, carry a roll of label film. This type of film looks like scotch tape but it is made just for the purpose of protecting paper labels while offering a substantial improvement in adhesion.

The label needs a large consecutive five-digit number. This will give you 100,000 different numbers to work with.

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