Factors to Consider When Selecting Surveying Equipment

Surveyors play an important role in construction projects. From super highways to airport construction, and simple buildings to sophisticated highrise buildings, the role of surveyors cannot be overemphasised in the construction industry.

In construction projects, they use precise surveying equipment and measurements to establish property lines and acquire detailed data on the land’s topography. This information, including the shape and elevation of the earth’s surface, is important for engineers and architects during the design phase and serves as the foundation for successful construction. The services of a surveyor are also very important in setting out buildings and establishing levels during building construction.

Because of how significant a role they play, they charge a lot for their services. To do the best job possible, they use high-tech surveying equipment. This article will tell you what to consider if you are planning on buying some in order to establish yourself as a surveyor.

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Surveyors are important in the construction sector

Types of Surveying Equipment

Here’s a list of some of the key equipment surveyors use in the construction industry:

Total Stations
A total station is a versatile electronic theodolite that integrates an electronic distance meter (EDM) and microprocessor. It automates many surveying tasks, allowing for highly precise measurements of angles, distances, and elevations. Surveyors use total stations for various tasks such as setting out building foundations, staking property lines, and collecting topographic data.

The total station is a sophisticated surveying equipment
The total station is a sophisticated surveying equipment

GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) Equipment
GNSS receivers, also known as GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers, utilize satellite signals to determine a surveyor’s precise location on Earth. This technology is particularly valuable for large-scale construction projects or those requiring high accuracy in geospatial positioning.

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GNSS is an important surveying equipment

Levelling Instrument (dumpy levels)
Surveyor’s levels are instruments used to establish horizontal datums or reference planes. These instruments typically consist of a telescope mounted on a tripod with a levelling bubble. By sighting through the telescope and adjusting the levelling screws, surveyors can establish level lines and determine elevation differences between points.

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Dumpy level

Prisms and Reflectors
Prisms and reflectors are specialized targets that return light signals from total stations. They enhance the accuracy and range of the EDM measurements, especially over long distances.

Data Collectors and Field Computers
Data collectors are handheld computers specifically designed for field data collection in surveying applications. They allow surveyors to record, store, and process field measurements and observations electronically. Data collectors often integrate seamlessly with total stations and GNSS receivers for efficient data transfer.

surveying data collector
Data collector

Measuring Tapes and Wheels
While total stations and GNSS equipment provide exceptional accuracy for long distances, tape measures and measuring wheels remain essential tools for short-distance measurements, particularly for confined spaces or intricate details.

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Measuring wheel

Tripods and Staffs
Tripods provide stable platforms for mounting surveying instruments like total stations, levels, and prisms. Surveying staffs are graduated poles used in conjunction with levels for determining elevation differences.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Surveying Equipment

This article will tell you what to consider if you are planning on buying some surveying equipment in order to establish yourself as a surveyor.

Digital Products

A surveyor doesn’t just use physical equipment to inspect construction sites. They also use software. They make use of computer-aided design (CAD) software to visualize the properties they are surveying. CAD programs allow surveyors to create virtual copies of the places they are working on, allowing them to be a lot more accurate.

The professionals over at Carlson Equipment make clear on their site that you need the best software you can get. Don’t settle for anything less than perfect. By investing in the highest-quality software you can afford, you ensure that you are able to satisfy your clients and do the best job possible. As a contractor, your main priority should be customer satisfaction. If you do not have access to quality software, that’s not something you are going to be able to ensure. Unhappy customers are bad for business.

Accuracy Needs

The level of precision required for your project is paramount. High-rise buildings or projects with tight tolerances demand more accurate equipment like total stations with higher angular and distance measurement capabilities instead of theodolites. Therefore, the degree of accuracy required influences the choice of surveying equipment to purchase, hire, or utilise for any given construction project.

Project Scale and Complexity

Large-scale projects or those spanning vast areas might benefit from GNSS technology for efficient data collection. Conversely, smaller, intricate projects might prioritize the portability and flexibility of total stations.

Terrain and Accessibility of Site

Rugged terrain or heavily forested areas might limit the effectiveness of GNSS due to signal obstruction. Total stations with long-range capabilities can be advantageous in such scenarios. Therefore, surveyors working in remote areas or heavily forested areas will definitely need to reconsider their choice of equipment.

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Furthermore, it is important to consider the ease of access within the work site. For confined spaces or areas with limited manoeuvrability, lighter and more portable equipment like handheld GPS units or total stations might be preferable.

Online Reviews

The next thing you need to think about is customer feedback. When you are planning on making an online purchase of survey equipment, the best thing you can do is perform extensive online research. Always read the reviews of products you are considering buying because they will give you insight into what they are going to be like to use, helping you to decide whether they’re right or wrong for your business.

Consider Cost

Beyond reviews, you also need to think about cost. The cost of the products you buy needs to be in line with your company’s budget. The equipment used by surveyors can be very expensive. Spend some time working out a budget so that you know how much you can afford to spend. Going into any professional purchase requires a budget. Overspending can cause major problems for your company. If your budget isn’t especially large, consider finance.

Finance Arrangements

Surveying equipment can range significantly in cost. Total stations and GNSS receivers represent higher investment options but offer superior accuracy and data collection capabilities. Balancing project needs with budget constraints is very important.

Finance is a great option for people who want to buy new equipment but don’t have enough money to pay upfront. A finance arrangement is when you pay in instalments by using credit. You’ll need a good company credit score in order to be eligible for finance. You also need to be able to afford to make repayments on time. Missing even a single one can cause major problems.

Expertise and Availability of Crew

The chosen equipment should align with the skillset and experience of your surveying crew. If your team is proficient in operating total stations, it might be a more cost-effective choice compared to GNSS which might require additional training.

Equipment availability is another factor. Renting specialized equipment for specific tasks might be more economical than purchasing for infrequent use.

Software Compatibility

Ensure compatibility between the surveying equipment and the data collection and post-processing software your team utilizes. Seamless data transfer and integration streamline workflows and enhance efficiency.


Surveying equipment is often used in harsh environments. Investing in rugged and weatherproof tools minimizes downtime and ensures reliable performance.

Brand Reputation and Service

Consider the brand’s reputation for quality and readily available after-sales support when making your selection.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the most appropriate surveying equipment that effectively meets your project requirements, optimizes workflows, and delivers cost-effective solutions for your construction projects.


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