Almost everyone has seen a person in high-visibility clothing setting up a tripod at the edge of a property, or noticed the boundary-marking wooden stakes that identify its edges. Although that’s all many people know about surveying, the profession encompasses much more than just, as some people say, ‘ﬁnding the corners.’
Todd Bauer, President of ForeSight Consulting, LLC, explains it this way: “It’s a valuable service, and it’s a pretty diverse ﬁeld. From the traditional boundary survey to contours and elevations for site development to underwater or underground surveying, there are many diﬀerent areas of specialty. And there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that most people don’t even realize.”
That behind-the-scenes work includes activities such as research into existing records, analysis of data, making professional, site-relevant judgments, and knowledge of legal precedent. Even if a survey has been previously performed on a site, many elements can change. Over time, landmarks may move or disappear, weather or development may alter the contours of the earth, coordinate systems may diﬀer, and measuring technology may improve. In the current GPS-based system, factors such as satellite position, tree cover, or even power line interference can aﬀect a measurement on any given day.
“Any survey can be complicated,”says Bauer. “It’s a matter of what you’re dealing with.”
A common confounding factor, even on what may seem like a straight forward survey, is the historical data associated with the property. Plat documents used for prior surveys may be extremely old and inaccurate or boundary landmarks may no longer exist. The boundaries previously recorded for one property may diﬀer from the boundaries recorded on an adjacent property.
The possibilities for conﬂict are vast. It therefore falls on the shoulders of the surveyor to document their regularities and render a professional opinion on the property in question.
“When you’re surveying something and come up against an irregularity, you have to go layers and layers back,” explains Bauer. “The challenge sometimes is the tenacity to keep digging. It’s easy to give up. It’s kind of like being a history detective at times.”
But does such precise measurement really matter in the grand scheme of things? Of course it does, says Bauer – and not just because ForeSight Consulting offers surveying services. Contours and elevations, a prevalent factor in construction surveys, can affect building placement, utilities, grading, and drainage, for example. Boundary lines affect land development and placement, and an inaccurate measurement can kill a project.
Bauer cites a specific example where construction had begun on a motel along I-69 in Grant County. After the building was partially erected, work ceased when it was discovered that boundary lines had been improperly designated. Unable to effectively resolve the conflict, the structure was eventually demolished before it was ever completed. Cases like this underscore the importance of finding the right firm, whose quality of work stands for itself.
“Surveying is a profession, and it’s not easy” says Bauer. “It requires a certain level of education, experience, and examination. You want to make sure you hire a qualified person.”
Bauer brings a host of qualifications to the table. In addition to being a registered professional engineer in twelve states and a registered professional land surveyor in Indiana and Kentucky, Bauer serves as president of the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors. His company, ForeSight Consulting, is also a member of the American Land Title Association, the Indiana Land Title Association, the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors, the Indiana Society of Professional Engineers, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Bauer also brings more than twenty-five years of professional experience.
ForeSight Consulting offers civil engineering and construction services, specializing in the development of land projects from inspiration to completion. From civil engineering to land planning, the success of all of ForeSight’s projects rests on the survey.
“The survey is often the beginning and ending of every project,” says Bauer.
An initial survey, he explains, is critical to the development of the land, as it may indicate boundaries, right of way, subsurfaces, and mapping. The information it offers affects how and where the property is developed. The final survey, performed once a project is complete, is filed with the county recorder and serves as official legal documentation of a property’s characteristics.
Although many people have only a superficial understanding of surveying and all it entails, its effects touch every property owner.
“Everything we do, and every project we are involved with, directly impacts our community and the communities in which we work,” says Bauer.