They sure do. For the uninitiated, surveyors refer to their surveying instrument as a ‘gun’ and to taking measurements as ‘shots’ or ‘shooting.’ We use a ‘1-second gun’, meaning that the instrument accuracy is to the nearest arc-second.
Modern houses are increasingly complex. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average home size in the United States was 2,330 square feet in 2004, up from 1,400 square feet in 1970.
Contractors used to use the old method of putting up batter-boards and pulling a tape measure to square the house by the ‘6-8-10 triangle’ method. That was not too difficult to do years ago when house layouts were usually comprised of a few simple rectangles. Today, contractors are largely abandoning the DIY method and contracting the house layout to surveyors. There are several reasons why this is a very good idea.
First, houses are just too darn complex these days to risk making mistakes. The foundation is the most important part of a house. If you mess that up, nothing else will go right thereafter. Take a look at the illustration by clicking the thumbnail at left. There are 75 individual points to locate for this house in Jefferson Park in Farragut! No contractor can achieve optimal accuracy on a house like this by pulling tapes. A good surveyor, with some patience, can achieve 1/8″ positional accuracy per point or better. This kind of accuracy makes the rest of the job go much smoother and is well worth paying for.
Second, lots are much smaller than they used to be, in turn making the building setbacks extremely tight. Builders tend to fit the most house they can get on a given lot. The risk of violating building setback lines is great. Those in the know will tell you that the last thing you want to do is violate a setback line in the Town of Farragut. Let’s just say that they are not generous with variance requests. Having to halt work or delay closing due to a variance hearing is costly in time and money.
Third, the homeowner or builder will want to maximize driveway and turnaround space. The surveyor can help with this while remaining in zoning compliance.
Start square, stay square. Best practices dictate hiring a surveyor to lay out your next home.