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Construction Layout in Texas

Chance15gt
(@chance15gt)
FNG Member

Hey everyone, first time post for me! 

I have a question regarding layout and not being a licensed surveyor. I currently work for a dirt contractor as a GPS Tech here in Texas. I handle all of our machine control systems as well as site calibration and a few other simple task. Recently they have had me doing stake out and layout of our projects, nothing to crazy just mainly a point of reference for our operators. I can stake out a line on the data collector that's no problem but now they have "sold my services" to a concrete contractor on one of our projects to be a surveyor and layout out everything they need to pour curb and driveways. I know how to read plans and have been a supervisor for many dirt contractors but I have no experience doing concrete or layout that has to be that exact, again I can stake out a line from the model but we are only using a GNSS rover and data collector running off a base station, no robotics. My question is, should they be charging a contractor for survey services when we aren't a survey company? Should I tell them I am not okay with being held responsible for the possible error of the layouts being that my only tools are Trimble rover set up (that is 6 years old and not up to date), some stakes and a hammer? Any input is appreciated! 

Thanks, 

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Topic starter Posted : December 11, 2020 8:36 am
timd1971 liked
Lurker
(@lurker)
200+ posts Member

Ignoring a plethora of other issues, I would not layout curb using RTK especially if the grade was very flat. Look at the specs for your system and pay attention to the vertical component. Experiences gathered from using a system daily tell me I will very easily range from 0.06' high to 0.06' low through the day. I'd be afraid I would have to buy some curb if I staked it using RTK.

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Posted : December 11, 2020 10:16 am
timd1971 and JPH liked
MightyMoe
(@mightymoe)
5,000+ posts Supporter

My guess that unless your company has a staff LS or whatever it's called in Texas then you can't contract out as a surveyor. But I don't know Texas rules and laws for this.

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Posted : December 11, 2020 11:50 am

Rover83
(@rover83)
500+ posts Member
Posted by: @mightymoe

My guess that unless your company has a staff LS or whatever it's called in Texas then you can't contract out as a surveyor.

That was my experience when working in Texas. Calling it layout services, construction services, etc. is likely OK. I don't remember there being anything explicitly calling out construction staking in the definition of land surveying.

But if you're going to represent the work you do as "surveying", depending on how you sell your services and the mood of the Board, you could find yourself in trouble.

 

Theoretically, if you understand the tolerances of the particular job you're doing, RTK can be used for curb layout. If there is a lot of grade to a particular run, where your margin of error for ensuring drainage and flow is relatively wide, then you could theoretically do it. But if you don't understand where that line is and when/where you should be switching to the total station or level, it's best to not try.

Highly skilled and experienced operators can do it; we don't do it just because it's easier to not have to worry about it in the first place.

In Texas, most of the layout I did was in Houston, with design grades that could be half a percent. That couple of centimeters of float in an RTK solution could cause some very problematic ponding or reverse flow issues.

This post was modified 12 months ago by Rover83
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Posted : December 11, 2020 12:15 pm
Mike Marks
(@mike-marks)
1,000+ posts Member
Posted by: @rover83

In Texas, most of the layout I did was in Houston, with design grades that could be half a percent. That couple of centimeters of float in an RTK solution could cause some very problematic ponding or reverse flow issues.

I'll be contrarian and point out 1/2% is 0.5 feet in a hundred feet of hardscape staking, easily less than the +-0.06 foot RTK wobble.  Also RTK fixes do not jump up and down +-0.06 feet with every adjacent shot so the local drainage works, they trend as the day passes or you come back the next day and there may be a jump.  Assuming your RTK procedures are spot on at all times that's close enough I suppose.

I'll admit I'm an old timer and have only used GNSS for major boundary & control projects; used trad total stations & levelling for the in close construction work so I'm good to +-0.02' sitewide & have the notes to back it up.  But recently I've observed construction sites  where the layout surveyor is only running GNSS gear and assuming the contractor follows the stakes it turns out pretty good.

Let's face it, construction surveying has slipped away from the purview of the PLS two man team and the future is one unlicensed construction guy with a GNSS receiver on a pole using a digital model can get the job done adequately more cheaply.  BTW problematic ponding & reverse flow are almost always an engineering error though I've been involved in situations where *we*  screwed up and got the superelevation staking backwards causing big ponding and paid for it.

 

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Posted : December 11, 2020 3:12 pm
Chance15gt
(@chance15gt)
FNG Member

@lurker 100% agree, I’ve tried to explain that but none of the higher ups at the company really understand GPS, they think it’s some kind of magic wand. Thanks for the input!

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Topic starter Posted : December 12, 2020 7:10 am
timd1971 liked

A Harris
(@a-harris)
5,000+ posts Member

In Texas you need a licensed surveyor when you use or claim to identify any monuments, points or other items being called boundary monument as your control to do any staking.

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Posted : December 12, 2020 10:11 am
holy cow
(@holy-cow)
10,000+ posts Member

Depending on the specific State laws, construction survey work may be performed under the supervision of either a licensed professional engineer or a licensed land surveyor.  We know much of it is done without any such supervision, flaunting the laws of the State.  A few days ago I received the quarterly publication from our State Board with about 20 instances of action being taken to protect those laws.  Some were for individuals or firms who had no such authority under the State laws but were doing work anyway (and got reported).  Some were surveyors who were doing improper work.  Some were individuals in various technical professions who had claimed they had met the minimum continuing education requirements when they renewed their license and were chosen to be audited, then refused to provide documentation proving they had, in fact, obtained those CE credits prior to the date when they had submitted their application for renewal.  One was a fellow who had been convicted of a felony in another State and had lost his license there, thus revoking his license here.

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Posted : December 12, 2020 11:51 am
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