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So......I've been working in this business for a few decades.  I've been a member of a 4 man crew, 3 man crew, most typically a 2 man crew, and now, for the last 10 years, a one man crew.

Robots and GPS have been around for enough time that they are both considered "conventional".

My question.........Is a one man crew truly efficient?

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I think one day of cutting brush, digging for corner stones, kicking at mad dogs, dodging thru traffic, wading back and forth across cold streams and arguing with yourself on the best way to calc a common corner from 3 bad deeds would be enough to answer this question. Ha!!

I am now a one man survey company, but have years behind me in all sorts of situations.


1. As to safety..... back in the day....I was snake bit and don't think I would have made it it I didn't have a helper to get me to the hospital.

2. Alone one time.... I rolled a 4 wheeler and crushed my arm.  Had to walk half mile to the truck...drive 20 miles to town.

3. Alone another time, I was struck  by a rattlesnake I stepped on.... but this time the snake boots saved me. 

4. Cutting lines.  I'm older now and just sub out the horsepower.

So safety is the  main issue with the one man crew.


1. Independence of the solo practitioner.....no boss...no employees....less taxes....less expenses.

2. per above.....work your own hours....don't have to be back for a employee's needs.....I've noticed in the heat of summer....the robot doesn't mine working till midnight on a construction site.

3. able to spend a little extra time if you need to finish a job rather than making a second trip.

4. eyes on the evidence rather than second hand reports.

5. interaction with the client and landowners.

The best thing is the reduced stress and independence.

"I think one day of cutting brush, digging for corner stones, kicking at mad dogs, dodging thru traffic, wading back and forth across cold streams and arguing with yourself on the best way to calc a common corner from 3 bad deeds would be enough to answer this question. Ha!!"

Man, I really love my job.

I find it funny that the general population thinks all you need is a cell phone to find property corners these days... and that foresters think they can use a submeter gps handheld in the middle of a dense forest using coordinates from a county GIS system... or at least thats what they convince their clients to save them on the cost of surveying... they prob can get a few more truckloads of timber if they play the dumb card... Nothing frightens me more than being called into a job where in the first few minutes i see a logging crew wanting to know where a line is... 

They think a land surveyor is a landscaper. Try to explain they say oh that guy beside a road with a pole? I know what your saying been in that mess more times than can remember. We have many jobs in one not sure if anyone other than us understands that at all. We pretty much fix every problem that comes up, anything to do with land. Just like a county gis its no more that a 'We think" of what's there. Try to convince a land owner its more or less a guess best of luck. Not sure what our role is when a client sees that. Spend days trying to explain they are not a survey its a guess? I find also people who pay cash for a home. Did not consider a survey or was not told they should. They find themselves with nothing but real bad problems. Not all, many do.I got off topic I'm sorry but you want to buy land house or not you need a land surveyor. Let us research what your trying to buy. Not sure makes any sense but that's what we are to me. 

well the county GIS system does give us some work by their mistakes from time to time... for instance, this guy calls us out because it looks like his sister's hair shop is over the line on the county's website, and this is out in the county... we get there and find that she is on her side but he has planted about half an acre worth of pine trees on her side... then he wonders if she has the right to those trees... 

well lawyers and their title work should trump us but they rarely go onsite... even lawyers will buy deeds without a survey and be surprised when the acreage can't be found... i wouldn't buy anything without a recent plat because i've seen the pitfalls... 

Great topic!  Just wanted to let you guys know that we have a Group Hub for One Man Surveying with its own forum for diving deeper into this discussion or any other topic directly related to One Man Shows.

Well, the answer to that is, it depends. It is not for everybody & won't work for all organizations but it does have definite advantages. I am a one man show trying hard to be semi retired but my creditors & clients won't leave me alone. My schedule, if you can call it that, doesn't recognize weekends & holidays or normal working hours. I work when I want to & when I need to. A robot frees me from a schedule. It is always ready when I am ready, I don't have to wait for it to get to work or wonder if it will show up. Also, I don't have to pay it over time or pay social insecurity tax on it. The only use I ever have for an employee now that I have a robot is to carry stuff. It wasn't always that way. I had employees up until about 16 years ago. My last employee was very good & I paid him very well but he left & I got the robot. Wild horses couldn't drag me back to doing business the way I did it pre-robot.
While, I will again stress that it isn't for everybody, I can add to the reasons it is my choice. One is that your body was made to be used. Stop using it & it tends to stop working. Field work keeps me in shape. Most surveyors stop working in the field when they get registered. Then they start getting fat! I still do some as-builts & construction staking but I target so called forensic rural boundary work. I am allergic to smog centers. Give me a nice quiet swamp any day. I work in some of the most hostile environments left in this country. The same place British General Tarleton gave Francis Marion the alias "The Swamp Fox".
As far as danger is concerned, I surely wouldn't be so foolish as to refuse help if I were to need it but I don't depend on others for anything. There is a certain amount of risk to everything. The most risky part of most surveys is the truck ride to the job site. I like to be prepared for the unthinkable & the unexpected so I can take care of myself. Your best safety device is your brain. Some of the same folks that say I am nuts fishing off shore, 60 miles from land by myself are the same nut cases that slide down mountains with bed slats tied to their feet or climb shear rock cliffs. What I do & the risks I take at least have a purpose. I would paddle a canoe across the Atlantic before I would risk my life climbing a mountain. There isn't anything on top of Mt. Everest that interests me.

Thank You Charlie. I am 100% the same!!!!


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