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Construction Layout - A Foundation for Success (Part 2 of 2)

Jonathan Terry, P.L.S.

Course Outline

Whether you're a professional engineer, land surveyor, construction layout contractor, entry-level employee working in a construction layout crew, party chief, construction manager, superintendent, architect or engineer, you'll benefit by a fuller understanding of this unique, essential component of any significant construction project.

By walking the reader through a typical, mid-sized project, covering bidding, contract negotiation, paperwork, interpersonal relationships, procedures, documentation, billing, site reconnaissance, geometric computations, and applying specific layout methods, the reader will not just be told about things but will see and experience the broad spectrum of construction layout and related disciplines through the eyes of its author. This approach makes remembering what's presented so much easier.

Tips (maybe even trade secrets) are freely shared - important lessons and experience learned by a surveyor licensed in 7 states, who's been an employee of developers, construction managers, architects, engineers and surveyors since 1963 and possesses a wealth of knowledge gained through founding and operating a successful construction layout business.

Neither fear nor swelling pride fosters success in this unique business. And, both attitudes are more common to providers of layout services than a quiet confidence born of real understanding. This course seeks to establish the latter.

Construction layout is a specialized, demanding function. It deserves study and the sincere respect it seldom gets. Its demands are uniquely complex and its rewards generous. This course is not merely the presentation of technique and processes (though these are included); it's an equipping, enabling source of knowledge and understanding.

This is Part 2 of 2 on Construction Layout - A Foundation for Success. The author strongly recommends that you take both parts of this course to have a complete understanding of the topic.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, licensed engineers and surveyors, their technical and field personnel and contractors performing construction layout will have gained a better appreciation for the unique demands of construction project control and will better manage the business, procedural, technical and relationship aspects of construction layout - and, will hopefully enjoy construction layout as much as I do.

Intended Audience

This course is designed for engineers, land surveyors, architects, contractors, or anyone contracting, providing, reviewing or specifying construction layout services.

Benefit to Attendees

This course teaches both technical and practical skills, contract and business considerations, staking and grade sheets, client relations, functioning in and with the design/build team, and relates countless tips and trade secrets learned only through solid, real-world experience.

Course Author

The author of this course is a Licensed Land Surveyor who's obtained professional registration in eight states and served as assistant construction superintendent, teacher, writer, civil technician, site planner, land surveying department head for mapping firms, civil/consulting firms and developers, created and managed the construction layout division of a large construction management firm, founded and operated a successful construction layout business and separate land surveying business and worked as the employee of civil, surveying, and architectural firms, developers and state government. His career began in 1963.

Such a diverse background is rare and provides a breadth of understanding beyond that normally experienced in any single profession. Construction layout is viewed from many perspectives not commonly experienced by the land surveyor.

Construction layout is like a unique and fascinating jewel having many facets, each unique and worthy of careful study. As an object of study, construction layout must be placed in its proper setting - that is, in its relevance and relationship to the design/build process and the professional team that gets thing built. Understanding construction layout from this overview yields success. This is our goal.

This course provides an overview and perspective of critical value to land surveyors, but it's purposefully aimed at any person working in the disciplines listed below. It's not just for surveyors, but most surveyors should obtain a deeper and broader understanding of this challenging and rewarding discipline. The course will increase knowledge and broaden horizons of understanding.

Course Introduction

Welcome to Part 2. In Part 1, you learned "Foundational Principles for Success." If you're skipping Part 1 thinking it will be too basic, please reconsider. This course assumes you're familiar with the principles and information conveyed in Part 1, and that we'll continue building practical application on the foundational principles presented in earlier material.

In this section we take off the fancy clothes we wore to impress those clients we won over through the procedures taught in Part 1. We've successfully completed our marketing effort, negotiated a contract, and it's time to put on our boots, get out there in the mud and dust and show our clients we really can give them what they need and want.

It can't be overstated: The construction world is different than the culture where design professionals live and breathe, turning out their inspirations. Becoming comfortable and familiar with the unique dynamics and sub-culture of the construction realm is prerequisite to a design professional's or surveyor's success through providing construction layout services.

Many who hire out construction layout experience frustration over unresponsiveness and lack of really understanding the needs. Because this is so common, being truly attuned to your client's needs gives you an edge over your competition. The advantage is huge!

Part 1 set in place a firm foundation. Part 2 constructs on this a habitable, above-ground structure where the visible life takes place. This living space is adorned with considerable detail. It's the place where tools and techniques are essential to craft, where the craft is appropriate to function and function supports the lifestyle. You need the tools to perform the craft; the skill and knowledge to do the craft well; the good sense and sensitivity to make the crafted form appropriate to the function; and function is dictated by purpose. "Purpose" is the element that design professionals and surveyors often fail to perceive.

The best tools in the hands of the most skilled craftsman can turn out useless and functionless items. The finest equipment being used by the most educated, intelligent, technically proficient professional often provide precise and accurate layout that is NOT what the client wants. In the end, everything is about what the client wants and needs. Part 1 offered instruction in how to achieve that fundamental insight. This section teaches how to utilize tools and skills to meet that goal. Also, it relates ways to protect yourself from paying for the faults of others. It advises how to protect yourself from the simple lapses of memory that can cost you big bucks or even those occasional, less noble individuals who might want something for nothing - at your expense.

Course Content

The course content is in a PDF file (1.0 MB) Construction Layout - A Foundation for Success (Part 2 of 2). You need to open or download this document to study this course.


And, that's what this course has been about:

I love the construction layout business and activity, the ever changing environment, the down-to-earth people on the site, the opportunity to work in a team of experts in their field and to function as an expert in my own profession. I enjoy learning. When providing construction layout services, learning never ceases.

It's been fun to record for your benefit some of the things I've learned over the past 4 decades. My sincere hope is that you've found this course enjoyable and beneficial. Any feedback on this course work will be gratefully received and thoughtfully considered for future refinement of this material.

Thank you for making the time to take this course.


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.