What makes a good land surveyor?

Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

Home » What makes a good land surveyor?

Published: 10th February 2017

This Article was Written by: Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group


Land surveyors have a varied job description – from mapping sites for new residential, commercial, industrial and infrastructure developments, to analysing land for all manner of purposes, such as mining and archaeology. For many, no two days are the same.

Whilst the job has a broad remit, the job and person specifications of a typical land surveyor do not. While all surveyors share several things in common – training, qualifications, tools – the very best embody certain skills and traits that give them the edge over their competition.  

It’s a challenging job, and it’s crucial that the work is carried out to a high standard, to avoid any problems once development work, excavations or other processes begin on site..

So what characteristics should a good land surveyor have? This list is by no means exhaustive; indeed, it goes without saying that there are many other, more technical things that help define what makes a good land surveyor. That said and done, however, this guide does include some of the core skills or traits that are essential to the role as well as some ‘nice-to-haves’ that can be the deciding factor between two, otherwise equally matched, land surveyors.

1. Communication

Communication is often referred to as a ‘soft skill’ but it is at the heart of the land surveyor role. For a surveyor, communication is key. Whether it’s speaking to clients or producing a clear and concise report, excellent communication skills are crucial.

Being able to communicate well from the outset allows land surveyors to work effectively with their clients. A surveyor with good communication skills goes the extra mile by ensuring a client understands a project by explaining complex processes in plain English.

It’s also a skill that transfers well into the act of surveying itself. Effective communication is often a sign of a ‘tidy mind’ which shows an commonsense, ordered approach to the analytical work involved in the job.

2. Qualifications

Whilst not all surveyors choose to embark on the route of becoming chartered, clients should look for a surveyor with a good range of professional qualifications – from their initial education, to ongoing professional development and competency standards.

The exact qualifications you seek may well depend on the project you are planning, but in general a well-trained and experienced surveyor is more likely to have encountered the specific challenges of your project in the past.

3. The Right Equipment

The right tools for the job are always important, but especially so for a land surveyor, where correctly calibrated equipment can have a direct and significant impact on the accuracy of measurements and drawings.

Poorly maintained equipment can mean a disastrous outcome for a project – inaccurate measurements or carelessly plotted points can throw a larger development project into disarray – even threaten its future. It’s costly and unnecessary and no surveyor worth his salt would risk it.  

A good firm will use independently calibrated and tested equipment – and should be more than happy to show you the certification provided to them by those independent experts.

4. Quality Control

The best land surveyors work methodically – as quickly as is practicable – but without cutting corners, so that the finished report offers the maximum level of quality possible.

It can be difficult to predict whether a particular surveyor or company will operate to the highest of standards, but there are a few things you can look out for as indicators of this.

A well-presented company image and brand are useful first signposts, along with equally well-presented individual staff, both in the office and when working on location. These are all positive indicators that the survey will be thorough and carried out to a high degree of accuracy, complete with highly detailed drawings with appropriate explanatory text.

Does it have a modern website? Does it have a portfolio of similar past projects? Do staff seem happy in their work? Can it provide testimonials? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking when considering a surveyor or surveying company.

5. Peace of Mind

Finally, what assurances will your surveyor give for the work they do? Do they offer any guarantees or specific quality commitments?

A guarantee of accuracy is a sure sign that the surveyor is confident in the quality of their work, which again ties into their pride in their appearance and reputation. Again, it’s a prime opportunity to check how highly-regarded the company is among past customers by requesting a reference or testimonial..

Initial meetings with the surveyor should help you to feel confident too, which brings us back to effective communication, and working with a land surveyor who keeps you informed about the work they will carry out on your behalf, so that you understand every stage in the process.

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