Architecture, Buildings and People — the HDC Blog

How Fast Can You Do That Cultural Resources Survey?

Posted by Hardlines Design Company on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 @ 13:01 PM

Four things a client can do to speed up a survey before the contract is signed

Quite often, when planning their cultural resources surveys (typically for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act), our clients ask us, “How soon can you finish your survey?!” We’re always eager to start a project as soon as possible, of course, and the length of time it takes to reach the finish line depends on a number of factors. Some are pretty much fixed (like how long it takes to dig an archaeological test pit or complete a building inventory form), and weather can always help or hinder, but many other factors that affect the schedule are well within human control. With a little foresight and planning, that is.

HDC crew doing winter survey cropped
Snow can affect a survey's schedule, but  many other factors are well within your control!

Clients and consultants should of course choose the correct survey method, or consider alternatives that avoid areas that are likely to have archaeological sites or historic buildings. (See our free guide, Archaeology Section 106 Compliance Surveys: Best Practices for Trimming Costs and Avoiding Delays, for some good information on how you can help speed up the turnaround time on an archaeology survey.)

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But before the contract is even signed, clients can accelerate the process by thinking ahead and following these common-sense tips:

  • Before you ask a consultant to provide a proposal, make sure you have initiated consultation with your State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and know exactly what type of cultural resources services are being requested.
  • At the time you are selecting a consultant, make sure that your contracting department is prepared to initiate and execute a contract.
  • Before the contract is signed, have plans in place to stake the survey area or geo-reference your project footprint, so that as soon as the contract is signed, you can send the information to the consultant.
  • Before the contract is signed, prepare a letter to all of the property owners notifying them that survey crews will be on their land within a specified time period. As soon as the contract is signed, send the letters. Always give your consultants copies of this letter so that the survey crew has something to show the property owners to justify their presence on the property. And…your consultant will love you if your letter reminds the property owners to restrain aggressive pets and livestock (Yes, we’ve been threatened by dogs foaming at the mouth, flocks of nasty geese, at least one menacing ram, and numerous territorial bulls and excitable horses!)
So remember, there’s a lot of things that you can do, both large and small, to help speed up that survey!
HDC archaeologist in mid survey


An HDC staff archaeologist experiences a calm day out in the field, the result of good planning!

Tags: Hardlines Design Company, Cultural Resources Management, Cultural Resource Management, Section 106, Archaeology Surveys, Cultural Resource Surveys, Phase I Survey