Corner Post
Quarterly Newsletter of the Saskatchewan
Land Surveyors

To Bid or not to Bid

Wayne W. W. Stockton

SLS, P. Surv., CLS


There is one item, a bit troubling, that crosses my mind from time to time and that is the question of whether or not Land Surveyors should succumb to the competitive bidding process. Since the Land Surveyor is providing a professional service, he should be expecting to be fully compensated for all the services he provides just like the doctor or dentist or any other similar professional. Even your auto mechanic won’t provide you with a final cost of repairs until all factors are known. And yet Land Surveyors regularly submit competitive bids on projects where very little is known.


If a surveyor is going to bid on a large project, it takes a considerable amount of time to do a thorough research job of all available survey information. Generally speaking, however, this time consuming effort only scratches the surface since little will be known about the condition of existing monumentation, available evidence, survey problems and field conditions. When a building contractor bids on a project almost all factors will be known such as the amount of material, design of the building, location and so on. All the contractor has to do is compile all these known factors, add the margin for profit and submit. Compared to the situation the Land Surveyor finds himself in, this is a simple process.


It takes a great deal of education and training to become a Land Surveyor. By the time you complete a 4 year university course and go through the complete Land Surveyor in Training program, the candidate could be a medical doctor. Why then, I wonder, do we so often put ourselves in a position through the competitive bidding process of subjecting ourselves to a place in society that is well below the practice of an auto mechanic.


Land Surveyors as a group are extremely independent and I know that each one is free to make their business decisions as they see fit. When I operated my own survey business on the few projects I did bid on, I either spent a huge amount of time researching the project and then didn’t get the job or I did get the job and got badly burned over the many unforeseen factors. Towards the end of my business practice I came to the conclusion that bidding wasn’t worth the time and effort as I could spend all that research time doing more productive things. Bids that came in the door went straight to the waste paper basket. These are just my own thoughts on the matter. To each his own of course.