Land surveying at scale and pace

Officially ‘the act of examining and mapping a specific area of the physical environment’, surveying is a profession that can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history. In 2019 at Piritahi, it forms an integral part of laying the groundwork at scale and pace. We sat down with Piritahi surveyors Richard Lawton and Julian Vos to find out more.

In any site destined to be redeveloped, surveyors are often the first ones in and last ones out. Data captured by surveyors identifies ground levels, slope, and locates existing features and services. This information allows engineers to design and construct effective solutions. In Richard’s words, “survey is everything, engineers would be lost without it!”.

From a construction perspective, surveyors take engineering designs and translate them into information to be used on the ground. They mark out where everything that’s been designed should be constructed, and come in again post-construction to record the precise location of where things were actually built.

Surveyors also deal with the legal side of things, drawing attention to any pertinent interests that the land may be subject to, and creating boundaries to use for new land titles.

With the huge scope and scale of Piritahi’s programme, the volume of survey work ahead is immense. Before redevelopment activities can commence, existing ground levels, current infrastructure, and boundaries need to be captured within each development neighbourhood. This data needs to be captured again at various trigger points once physical activities have taken place.

Piritahi engages people at its member companies to perform a lot of this survey fieldwork - access to depth of talent is just one benefit of 'alliancing'. But given what’s in the pipeline, to carry out all fieldwork conventionally and achieve timely delivery would be impossible. More importantly, there are more innovative methods that the size of the developments it’s involved with, enables Piritahi to explore.

This is another benefit of an alliance model – the innovations that a streamlined approach and common goal makes feasible. “Whilst there’s no way to fast track or bypass the requirement for survey input, we have a huge opportunity to look at the formula traditionally used to gather it” says Richard. And that’s exactly what Piritahi is doing. By utilising LiDAR, mobile laser scanning, UAV (drone) and other GPS-driven technologies, its engineering design and construction progress can occur faster.

Looking ahead, Piritahi is also planning to work in a way that cuts out the requirement to compile reports and plans. With the help of their in-house Geographic Information System (GIS) team, they’ll be empowering their surveyors to transfer data straight from the field into a GIS system where it's accessible across the alliance.

By combining these innovative methods, Piritahi will be able to cover a huge proportion of survey fieldwork extremely efficiently, helping to deliver build-ready land at an ambitious scale and pace.

“One of the bonuses of this programme is the ultimate outcome of it", Richard ended by reflecting. "While many projects involve the creation of new land parcels for developers to sell, this one’s fundamental difference lies in the delivery of land that enables new, warm, dry, modern dwellings to be built for those most in need".

Whilst its size is an inherent challenge, streamlining land development through an alliance model also offers opportunities to innovate and achieve efficiencies that aren’t feasible with smaller projects. Identifying and implementing these will be crucial to Piritahi’s success, and its surveyors are well on their way towards doing just this.