How to survey a site to install metal railings

How to survey a site to install metal railings

Unless it is a supply only project, most metal railings projects involve Alpha Rail visiting the site to carry out a survey in order to take measurements. This helps to assess the length of the railings required for each section, as well as ground levels and curves that will help us to determine if any raked or radius panels will be required.

Sometimes, we get to site and works have not progressed sufficiently for us to carry out a comprehensive survey in one visit. Roger Bristol, who is our expert surveyor, has the following advice regarding what condition a site need to be in to be surveyed to install metal railings.

The projects Alpha Rail surveys for the installation of metal railings, gates and pedestrian guardrail normally fall into three categories: Highways, Housing and Parks.

Roger Bristol surveying a site


On highways projects it is important that the kerb lines are complete. This includes all drop kerbs for any crossing over points and central pedestrian refuges. If metal railings or pedestrian guardrails are to be installed on the splitter islands, these need to be in place too. A splitter island is a raised or painted traffic island that separates traffic in opposing directions of travel. They are typically used at roundabouts and on the minor road approaches to an intersection.

On highways projects we usually install pedestrian guardrail and pedestrian parapets in order to guide pedestrians to safe points to cross the road.


On new housing developments and urban regeneration projects we need the ground works to have reached a point where the boundaries and pathways along which metal railings are to be installed are clearly defined.

If metal railings are required to follow pedestrian pathways, this usually means that the pin kerbs have to be installed. If metal railings are required for property boundaries, this requires for the ground to be levelled in their final state so that any gradients and curves can be factored into the calculations.

Public Parks and Gardens

For parks and gardens the conditions explained above are similar, in that the boundaries and path edgings need to be in place.

However, also in a park or garden, metal railings and trip railings may well be used to deter visitors from trampling on gardens or to demarcate different areas within the park. This means that the metal fencing, such as estate railing, may run across open land.

In these instances, the lines where it is required for metal railings to run need to be clearly marked out.  Usually this can be achieved by inserting timber pegs at regular intervals.  Any regrading of the ground needs to have been completed. Regrading is the process of grading for raising and/or lowering the levels of land. Regrading is typically performed to make land more level (flat), in which case it is sometimes called levelling.


In essence, in order for us to conduct a thorough survey in one single visit and ensure measurements are precise, we need to be able to determine the final fence lines and ground levels.  At Alpha Rail we use total station measuring devices to get accurate measurements and have developed a reputation for manufacturing metal work that fits exactly to the space and specification required. If we can help on your next project please get in touch.

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