Sunday, November 06, 2005

At Least It's Not A Coal Mine

I don't talk about work much. This is a private journal and who I work for and the clients we support will always enjoy confidentiality within these posts. Having said that, since I spend sixty hours a week (since last March) doing the work thing, it just stands to reason that some mention has to creep into the narrative at least once in a while. Anyone who has ever been involved in major construction who reads this can fill in the blanks - companies/clients/projects really aren't material to what I'll talk about.

Our main client wants to buy a few sections (square miles) of land contiguous with the chunk they are already in the process of developing and for which we are already doing the construction surveying and inspection. They'll probably pay cash for both the real estate and our survey work - we LIKE working for these people. Our part of the process is to locate and tie all the boundary points to ensure that the deeds are correct, identify and possibly resolve any conflicts with neighbors, and ensure that the client actually gets what they pay for. We will produce maps and legal descriptions based on our field work, and these documents will be the basis on which a title company provides their services.

One minor drawback associated with working for truly high-end clients is that once they've established an objective they want their subcontractors to deliver NOW, if not yesterday. They positively don't like to hear words like "not this week" or "our schedule is full". "Can't" is NEVER used.

We run two GPS crews full time, ten hours a day, usually six days a week, just keeping ahead of the contractor on our site. (Here's where confidentiality really sucks - I've surveyed in Utah for over a decade, and if I never work with another contractor on any project until I finally hang up my boots, I'll finish a happy man. These guys are that good.) Last Thursday my chief of surveys gave us a warning order that Friday and Saturday we were to conduct a title survey of the land in question - which meant locating and tieing as many of the record property markers as we could find. Across literally miles of broken, roadless, and mountainous terrain.

The kicker? If we don't have the completed product - descriptions, plats, maps, and title bond in hand by the end of next week, the client will "reexamine our relationship".

I have to believe that Anne Boleyn probably got the same word from Henry the VIII, way back when.

Ten years ago the job would have taken three or four two-man crews working a solid week to accomplish. Friday we set out with two GPS rovers, five men, and an ATV and were rained/snowed out completely before noon. We went back at six a.m. on Saturday with three rovers and the resolve that comes not from being worried about a paycheck, but from having been told "you can't do this, but give it a try anyway". There was mud, and some rain, but the weather did improve after dawn.

I walked about ten miles yesterday. Located six or seven section corners (brass cap BLM or USGS or state monuments) and a dozen or so deeded mining claim markers. Ten miles, up and down several canyons , a number of ravines, and then walked out two miles along the shore of a resevoir where the fifth man picked me up at sunset. Our other two rovers worked the high western section and located more than thirty points between them. In the end there were only five points not found and as of now I don't think their absence will materially effect the legitimacy of the survey.

Our office folks worked yesterday and today - we wirelessed our points and photographs from the field - and sometime tonight they'll line us out for anything else they might need tomorrow. Barring unforeseen conflicts, we've given the office two additional days to wrap up the package.

We got our part done. I'm proud to work with such a team - just in case you couldn't tell.

I'll let you know how things worked out.

No comments: