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Old 04-02-2012, 12:28 AM   #1
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Hi all: I'd like to try my hand at surveying in the foundation for a house I'd like to build in the Sierra foothills. Can this be done by a novice? Are there any good references you can point me to that have a title like "Home Construction Surveying For Dummies?" Or, is this a foolish thought, and I shouldn't even attempt it?
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Old 04-02-2012, 01:17 PM   #2
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


leave it to a pro. seriously.. i put in icf foundations occasionally and im licensed on it.. ive seen many foundations done by guys that only do foundations that are horrendous.. cant imagine what a diy one woiuld turn out like

last summer i framed a house on a icf foundation done by a foundation crew that was out of level by 2 1/2".. icf's have to be within 1/4" of level.. it created nothing but headaches for me. much longer to get it level
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Old 04-02-2012, 08:05 PM   #3
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its always risk vs reward - in this case, you're risking much for small reward,,, we built many icf structures along w/mini-malls & multi-story commercial bldgs - NEVER w/o a pro on the payroll even tho we were well-qualified to do the work - its called ' liability ' & its always embarrassing to sue yourself
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Old 04-02-2012, 10:05 PM   #4
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Are you actually talking about doing the foundation yourself like the others have discussed or do you just want to do a site survey to locate the foundation on the site? If it's the former then the other posters are definitely correct. However, if it's the latter is all you want to do is survey the location then go ahead, you really can't do any harm and you'll probably learn something doing it.
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Old 04-03-2012, 10:35 AM   #5
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


"Can I do it myself"

The answer is maybe. But 'itsreallyconc' got it right - risk versus reward. The penalty for a mistake is expensive.

There are are many complications that a DIY'er should avoid. Some places have regulations requiring a detailed site plan and a check after the foundation is built, that it closely matches the site plan; not something most property owners are equipped to do.

A big house on a small lot often results in a foundation near setback lines or easements. Small errors in precision can be big trouble; stay away.

A basement complicates the work required.

A sloped property is difficult for amateurs to accurately measure; stay away.

A simple four cornered rectangle is within what many can set up, but a lot of modern home have many more corners to the foundation.

So if you want to build a simple rectangle house without a basement on near flat ground in the middle of a large tract where there are little if any regulations to be dealt with, it could be a DIY project.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:56 AM   #6
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Thanks all for your responses. The buildings I am planning for will consist of two rectangular slabs with a connecting slab in between, all total equalling about 2K sf. They will be located at the top of a ridge, and will require an area on the top to be leveled. The buildings themselves will be one level, no basements or 2nd stories, and will be partially buried once they're finished. How hard is it really to level off a couple thousand sf so a building's footings and slab can be poured? I can understand how critically important it is to get it right, but is it really so difficult as to be beyond a DIYer with plenty of time?

I suppose the more important question is: can a DIYer legally survey his own building site, or by state law, does it have to be done by a licensed pro?

Last edited by obi_donkenobi; 09-05-2012 at 02:57 AM. Reason: fix a typo
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:26 AM   #7
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


With a spinning laser level it should be rather simple.
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:59 AM   #8
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Did I read that right? Part of the slab will below grade?
We can not see your plans but that just does not sound right.
How is the siding going to be at least 4" off the finished grade with that low a slab?
Water will end up getting in under the walls.
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:14 PM   #9
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This is an "unusual" building - it's specifically designed to be underground, with openings on the sides for windows and doors. The company is called Formworks, and the construction is similar to that of a rebar framed and Shotcreted swimming pool, but the "pool" is upside-down. I call it a "hobbit house." So, the game plan is: dig into the side of this ridge top, level a space approx half the depth of the building with room around the sides to work, pour the slab, build the house, and then re-bury the whole thing under a foot of dirt on top. Of course, measures are taken to ensure it is waterproof, and being at the top of a ridge, there is little chance for a build-up of water around it (though the usual measures will be taken to ensure water drains away from it, anyways).

My questions are: Can it be done (by me) legally and successfully, or is it harder than it sounds, and if so, why?

By the way: you guys rock! All responses are MOST appreciated.

Last edited by obi_donkenobi; 09-05-2012 at 06:09 PM. Reason: fix a typo
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Old 10-21-2012, 04:08 PM   #10
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Haven't heard any responses to this, lately, so I'll refresh it with a new post.

Can I survey and lay out my own building foundation legally and successfully, or is it harder than it sounds, and if so, why?

Are there any references you can point me to that would help me with this?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can send my way.

Cheerios! <crunch, crunch>
;~Don
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:16 PM   #11
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Quote:
Originally Posted by obi_donkenobi View Post
Haven't heard any responses to this, lately, so I'll refresh it with a new post.

Can I survey and lay out my own building foundation legally and successfully, or is it harder than it sounds, and if so, why?

Are there any references you can point me to that would help me with this?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can send my way.

Cheerios! <crunch, crunch>
;~Don


Why not just ask your local building department what you can do???
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:48 PM   #12
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


The only person who can answer if you can legally survey your own lot and building is the building inspector. Anyone on this forum who claims to know the answer to this question is kidding themselves and you.

As to whether you can successfully layout a building, bear in mind that wherever you put the pins, that is where the forms are going to go, so if there is an error you are going to be 100 percent responsible, not the company that placed the forms. Since you are likely not going to be able to purchase liability insurance, since you are not a professional, you are accepting full responsibility for the accuracy of your pins. Is it very difficult to properly layout the pins? Not if you have experience and knowledge, but I have been involved in several cases involving professionals who made errors laying out buildings, so it is certainly possible for an amateur to commit errors. The difference is that the professionals typically have professional liability insurance to cover the costs of their errors.
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Old 10-21-2012, 07:32 PM   #13
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Sure you can do it yourself . How successful it will be will depend on your skills and your homework . But you missed a good opportunity on September 21 to get an east / west line established using the sun . But don't despair, you still have the north star to work with or wait until March 21 . And don't forget about the 6-8 10 rule .

There are plenty of intelligent people scratching their heads about them there pirmids .
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:19 PM   #14
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fairview View Post
And don't forget about the 6-8 10 rule .

There are plenty of intelligent people scratching their heads about them there pirmids .
What you mean the 3-4-5 rule don't you? I guess we just all learned it differently!
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:36 PM   #15
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DIY Building Foundation Surveying - Can I do it myself?


Can anyone here briefly describe how "surveying to build" is done? Here's how I imagine it would go: 1) Take your approved plans and look precisely at how the building is oriented to the compass points; 2) find one corner of the building on the land using compass, GPS, and topo maps; 3) from that point, find and mark all the other points based on that first point; 4) verify the positions of the other points using compass, GPS and topo maps; 5) stake out 3' away from the actual slab points for the actual digging out and leveling work. From there, do the work of digging out, leveling, marking and digging out the foundation trenches, and etc. from there to pour the foundations and then install the necessary conduit and plumbing to pour the slab. Does this sound about right?
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