Can Reach RS help with property subdivision and site layout?

Hi Bide!

I really like your post. I am similar to you, in that I want to survey a large, and old land property. Do you mind if I ask you some really basic questions? I am considering purchasing a pair of Reach RS units …

We have a large property, which we intend to build several houses on, for which it is important to do some general surveying to (1) find points of interest, and (2) log points of interest, and (3) merge this data with the contour plan and survey plan already provided to us (in AutoCAD format) by our registered surveyor.

We are no strangers to general building surveying, being a small CAD construction consulting, construction and building planning firm, and we are trained in the old school method of using an automatic dumpy optical level and sometimes laser level to already do general site setouts, based on the surveyor’s plan of the site. We generally use AutoCAD and Sketchup to draw house plans in a CAD file, provided by the surveyor, that already had contours and survey plans.

I’m trying to find out if your Reach RS can be used by use to save us time and money in our subdivision by allowing us to directly find, log, and merge data points (XYZ, Lat, Long, Height ASL etc) with our AutoCAD file?

This whole forum is full of sexy experiments with RTK GPS drones, and robots, and graphs of accuracy. I’m coming from the position of wanting to know if the Reach RS can help me do surveying of my land faster and more accurate than my old-school optical levels.

We originally start with a registered surveyor providing us with accurate survey plans in AutoCAD format. We are currently using that data to prototype in AutoCAD, some possible site setouts for the envelope of houses that might be built, and calculating potential earthworks set out, in addition with the contour plan, so we can calculate the best cut and fill solution for each lot. The problem is that we then have to either get a surveyor again, or often ourselves, we use a time-intensive optical auto-level (old-school) setup to do the old builder style of site setout (345 triangles, hypotenuse, etc) or point identification. We have that data in our CAD file, but we have to spend a lot of time finding those physical points. We also cannot generate our mesh plans of the terrain in a fast and easy way.

Please forgive the many questions - but if anyone can advise I would be grateful, and it would steer me to purchase a pair of units.

If you buy two Reach units, i’m trying to figure out how is the data processed into either a contour plan or a mesh for use in either Autocad 3D or Sketchup? I mean … this is possible right (it seems so basic). What is the software or workflow?

If we had Reach Units, and were trained to use them, does the Reach Units come with software to translate the logged data from the site visit into an AutoCAD file that is geospatially accurate?

If we have Reach Units, could we add some possible building set out points to the AutoCAD file which was originally provided by our registered surveyor, and use the Reach to find them on our physical site?

Can we use Reach Units to log point data and create a contour map in AutoCAD or Sketchup?

We basically want to merge the Reach RS data with the Survey Plan (latitude and longitude of boundary points already provided by a licensed surveyor) as an AutoCAD file - and we can’t see if we need extra software, and what the workflow is with the Reach RS unit.

Hmmmm. Anyhow. I hope you aren’t offended by my many questions. This looks like a great solution, but I don’t know if it can do what I need it to. I’m just a simple builder that likes AutoCAD and wants to use a surveyor less!

1 Like

Hello Patrick,

Welcome to the forum! Thank you, and yes, it seems we are similar in our interests, but I think your strengths are my weakness and vice-versa.

To answer your most important question, “[Can Reach RS] save us time and money in our subdivision by allowing us to directly find, log, and merge data points (XYZ, Lat, Long, Height ASL etc) with our AutoCAD file?” Yes, certainly it can. In essence your workflow would be:

  • start up your Reach RS, and open ReachView
  • create a new ‘project’
  • collect points
  • download project .DXF file from ReachView
  • drag and drop (or import) your project .DXF file into AutoCAD

There is no doubt that you can do what you want without any additional software because ReachView speaks AutoCAD’s language, but I will defer to @TB_RTK or one of the others with AutoCAD experience to answer your other questions:


I use Archicad with Architerra and it supports direct import of Reach output format from survey. It’s been test and working. So creating mesh and whatnot is pretty straight forward.
Couple features are I think under development, such as UTM zones and . CSV output and working format.
UTM is a big step for me as we use it as national survey format and Archicad also like it well.

AutoCAD360 is something I have tried few times and if you can georefered it and don’t mind the horrible drop crosshair, it works OK (not great) for stakeout.


Thank you for the helpful response Bide!

I am obviously a bit unaware of the capabilities of this device, since I am asking a lot of the same question in different ways,

I think the way you have answered generally covers my enquiry. Which is about the ability of the device to work with AutoCAD.

If the capabilities of this device are what I suspect, then really think the marketing team is missing a large opportunity to directly address the benefits of these units to builders, construction contractors, and subdividers.

Here in Australia, surveying is a registered profession and survey plans at key stages most definitely require a licensed surveyor to prepare and sign off. However, there is a large space, and legally allowed area in construction and development and for large property owners where a device like this could be used for every-day surveying of property for feasibilities for building envelopes, general and detailed excavation, stake-out, logging of points, identification of points, and generation of terrain maps, and many other tasks.

At the moment, these jobs are either being done with a builder’s automatic level, which is an exercise notorious for the time it takes on-site for setup, collection, and integration with the digital plan.

I wonder why this product is not being marketed to builders and subdividers … I am trying to find out some more information on how it works in the meantime.


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