Calculating Cut and Fill Quantities On Your Construction Site

The largest use case for drone surveying on worksites is calculating volumes. For those in the industry who rely on accurate cut and fill calculations, this won’t be surprising. Small differences in cut and fill volumes of earth over large sites can make for huge changes in overall quantities, which is why cut and fill quantities are so vital for on-site personnel.

But when it comes to construction, sites can vary widely in their plans and look. To illustrate the benefits of drone surveying in calculating cut/fill quantities, let’s look at a housing development site as it covers many aspects of different construction projects.

cut and fill software construction

For a project like this, adherence to design is a big issue. Specifically, getting those housing plots dug out and leveled according to the linework. For repeated, fine-grained cut/fill work like this, 3D visualizations like those from the Propeller Platform can be more helpful than ever in giving you a bird’s-eye view of your whole site or individual plots.

construction software for cut and fill calculations

Of course, you’re also looking to track individual progress and productivity on active areas of the site. With Propeller’s simple tools, you can set up measurements that show you volumes for as many areas as you choose to highlight. On-screen calculators instantly show you the cubes for that region.

If you want to compare to a previous survey or to the linework itself, you can do that two ways. Cross-section view:

calculate cut and fill construction site

These colored lines correspond to each survey or surface you’ve uploaded into Propeller. As you move your mouse along those lines, you also get elevations.

Or in 3D:

3D cut and fill calculation software for construction


Sometimes you want to see that virtual-reality look of 3D. For that you can also view the site with 3D overlays of past surveys or your design to see how things are progressing—get a visual read on how much work’s been done and how much is left to go, all without looking at a single spreadsheet.

Download cut and fill calculations in drone surveying guide

Never move someone else’s dirt again

Cut and fill quantities go far beyond simple, important volumes you need to take out or put back in the ground. They also determine how you’re billed for moving earth and contractor work. Sadly, too often on construction sites you can get stuck moving someone else’s dirt because the recordkeeping was sparse or you couldn’t prove or disprove the amount of dirt a contractor said they moved.

Using Propeller in combination with the more frequent surveys drones allow you to get a paper trail with rock-solid quantity you can use to mitigate such claims. Whether that’s moving someone’s dirt or realizing an initial topo gave inaccurate quantities of how much dirt would need to be moved, you can get the objective numbers on your job and not be surprised when you walk on site.

Cut and Fill Case Study: Lange Land Surveying

Recently, one of our customers had just this issue. Lange Land Surveying, a full service land surveying company in Arvada, Colorado, had conventional, GPS, and now drone-mapping and analytics capabilities.

They flew a development for their client Remington Homes,. Normally a 25-acre lot would mean three days spent in the field. “With Propeller’s AeroPoints ground control hardware, and drone-mapping and analytics software platform, we’re able to fly the entire site in just half a day, so it’s saving us two and a half days of boots on the ground,” Jon Lange of Lange Land Surveying said.

calculating cut and fill measurement with software in construction

With the existing 3D surface in Propeller, the LLS team uploaded and compared their data against the design and preliminary development surfaces.

The drone flight captured more dirt on each lot than was originally budgeted by Remington Homes. But with this new data, the builder was able to build the additional dirt movement cost into the price of a home, amounting to a $2,000–$3,000 savings per lot.

All in all, their client recouped roughly $187,000 of savings. “Propeller is helping us with land surveying—we’re able to manage our time more wisely,” Lange said. “We’re saving our clients tons of money and making our investment in Propeller back quickly.”

Cut and fill software helps at every stage of construction

As we’ve seen, having accurate numbers on hand at any stage of a construction project means potentially reducing costs, smoothing over future disputes, and getting everyone on the same page. When you need to relate these earthwork calculations, platforms like Propeller have easy-to-use reports in both CSV and PDF. You can also grant your team access to the Platform itself. It’s as easy as sending them a link or an email.

What to learn more about cut and fill calculations? Check out in our free ebook Cut and Fill Calculations in Drone Surveying today.



You might also like:
Improve Construction Site Reporting With Drone Surveying
Top 3 Visuals You Can Get Out of Drone Surveying
Five Steps to Successful 3D Drone Modeling

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