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Week #12 – Site Survey and Topography Modeling
12-2. Drafting the Property Lines based on a Paper or PDF Survey Drawing

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 12-2)

This 26 minute lesson shows how to draft the property lines based on a survey document, either on paper or as a PDF. The use of metes and bounds with survey bearings (degrees, minutes and seconds based on the North orientation) is demonstrated.

A new independent worksheet is created for drafting the property lines. The Options menu > Project Preferences > Working Units command is used so that model distances may be entered and viewed as decimal feet or meters, with angle measurements in surveyor’s units.

Property lines may then be easily entered using the Tracker. Type in the distance first, then hit Tab and enter the bearing angle with “s” or “n” followed by the number of degrees, a “space” to separate, then the number minutes, another space then the number of seconds, and finally an “e” or “w” before hitting Enter to conclude the input.

IMPORTANT NOTE: To work properly with survey bearing angles, make sure that the Options menu > Work Environment > Tracker and Coordinate Input checkboxes for “Use relative angle measures” and “Use angle relative to the active Guide Line” are NOT checked. In ArchiCAD 15, this is automatically turned off by ArchiCAD whenever surveyor’s units are chosen; in ArchiCAD 14 and earlier, this must be done manually by the user.

Follow the sequence of lines around the outside boundary and test that it closes properly. When creating a curved segment, create the chord or straight segment, then curve that line to the proper radius. In earlier versions of ArchiCAD, the Tracker may not give useful feedback for the radius of this curve, so follow the steps outlined in the video to create an arc or circle of proper radius then later move it into position.

When creating dimensions for the property boundary lines, set the Dimension Preferences to give the desired units, and adjust the Scale as needed, then make sure to record these in the View Settings.

A shortcut is shown to create the text representing the bearing angle in survey units: use the Measure tool along the property line, hit “a” to highlight the angle measurement, and copy it. After canceling out of the Measure tool using the Escape key, start to place a text block by double-clicking with the Text tool, then paste in the bearing data that was copied from the Measure tool.

Please post your comments and questions below.


Thank you for visiting the Best Practices Course website. The video lessons are available for members only. If you are an active member and would like to watch the ArchiCAD training video on this page, please login to the website. If you are not currently a member, please visit the following pages for more information and to sign up for the Best Practices Course, the QuickStart Course or for the Best Practices ArchiCAD Coaching Program. Eric Bobrow, Creator of the Best Practices Course

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ArchiCAD Training:  Drafting the Property Lines based on a Paper or PDF Survey Drawing

Let us know how you feel... (6 comments so far)

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  1. HanyHanna
    1 year ago

    Thank you very much for this course I have found ur way of explaining very helpful only one issue I don’t have a video file I only have PDF and Audio files. Could you please let me know how I can access the video file for this course. Thanks

    • Eric Bobrow
      1 year ago

      Hello Hany –
      Welcome to the SiteModel Course. The video is available when you are logged in as a course member, but sometimes take a few seconds to load and show on the page. You’ll see the video above the YOUR DOWNLOADS section. If you continue to have problems, please try another web browser or another computer (normally this isn’t necessary); let me know if you need assistance.

  2. Graham Richmond
    3 years ago

    Just finished watching Parts 2 & 3. Both excellent lessons with, as usual, several productivity tips provided in addition to the lesson subject matter. I’ll follow your method for dimensioning property boundaries next time, but I will want to show the boundary line length and bearing similar to the PDF without dimension lines. I achieved this during the lesson by setting the dimension line and marker to white, sending it to the back in the display order, and then moving the dimension line to the boundary line (so that it becomes hidden). Is there a better way? Guess I could also have copied the dimension text and pasted it into the bearing text box, but I like the idea of preserving the dimension in case boundary lines are accidentally changed.
    Thanks… Graham

  3. Chris Ellis
    3 years ago

    Perfect timing for me !
    I just got a project that will require this exact technique as the existing survey has a whole development on it and is unusable for a permit filing. Thanks !
    Chris Ellis, Cape Cod, Mass.

  4. AlbertVan Ee
    3 years ago

    This is very good. Following your method of copying out of the measure tool will save me so much time, and it makes the end result look so much better. Thank you.

    • Eric Bobrow
      3 years ago

      Albert –
      Thanks for posting your comment.
      I’m glad that this method will be so useful for you!