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How to Use Transit for Elevations: 4-Step Guide

Finding the elevation of the land is the first thing to do in a project. For doing that using Transit is a must. But operating a transit is not very simple for a beginner. And I am assuming you are a beginner or semi-pro.

How to use transit for elevations?

There are necessary steps for elevations using transit. First, you’ve to set up the transit stand properly. Then mark the reference point. For that, use the stick of the transit kit. Once you’ve marked the reference, take the next measurements. Calculate all the measurements to find the elevation. 

These are only the gist of our discussion. To finish the work successfully you have to learn the process in depth. Keep scrolling to know all the details!

How to Use A Transit for Elevations?

Using transit correctly is very vital for starting any construction project. Any project requires leveling like the level ground for the pool. And to ensure that, the elevation of the ground is measured at first by the transit. 

There are proper sets of rules to measure the elevation without any error. We will guide you through the whole procedure. So let’s start the work!

Step 1: Set up the Transit Level

The first step is to set up the transit level. You must set it up on a plane. Otherwise, the readings will come out with errors.

A tripod stand is used to set up the transit. Sometimes stands with four legs are also used. Position the stand in a compatible place. Then push it firmly inside the ground. Make sure the stand is not bent. 

You can easily understand whether the tripod is at a right angle or not. You have to check the spirit level for that. The spirit is a small amount of liquid with a bubble. If the stand is in the required correct position the bubble will be at the center between lines.

Once you are confirmed that you set up the stand accurately, lock the legs. Leveling the transit is completely different from leveling base cabinets for granite. So you have to be careful while carrying out the task.

We have some suggestions for tripods that you can use for this purpose:


These products are very easy to handle. They will make your work simple and ensure precision. 

Step 2: Mark the Reference Point

For the next step, you have to mark the reference point. This is not very complicated to do. But you will need an assistant for accomplishing the task. The assistant is generally known as the Stickman.

From the name you can understand that the job of the assistant is to hold the marking stick. The reference stick comes with the transit kit. Usually, the sticks are marked with 1-inch increments. The assistant holds the stick at the reference point. The stick must be held vertically straight. 

While the assistant is holding the stick, the transit operator will observe through the telescope. Then the measurements are noted in the crosshair of the telescope. 

Step 3: Note the Measurement

Noting down the measurements is simple. You have to just repeat the previous process. But check all the parameters properly before writing down the measurement. 

Every time you are taking a measurement both the stick and stand must be straight. This is a very sophisticated process. Because wrong readings can make the whole project fail. Rooms in the house can be sloppy due to mistakes in this step.

Step 4: Compare The Measurement

The final step is to compare all the measurement values you have gathered. You will find the elevation from the comparison of all the values. 

The process is pretty simple. You have to find the difference between the reference point and the level point. Then subtract the finished grade height by the total distance. The total distance is the sum of the level plane and the difference between the level plane and the reference point.

These are all the required steps of finding elevation using a transit. To do the work accurately follow our steps carefully. We will show you a practical example below to clear all your doubts. 

An Example to Make Your Work Easy

Let’s look at an example. The example will help you to understand the whole process and then do it practically. 

Suppose the elevation of the reference point you have marked is 78 feet. This is the first point you measured. And the measurement from the reference point to the level plane is 2.40 feet. Now the required finished grade should be 72 feet. Now your job is to find the reading on the level rod.

Let’s see how we can find the reading!

First, find the sum of the level plane and the difference between the level plane and the reference point.

78 + 2.40 = 80.40

Then do the subtraction. 

80.40 – 72 = 8.40

So, the level rod will have a reading of 8.40 feet when it will sit on the final grade.

We think now you can find the elevation by yourself. You must understand the instructions before starting. You can follow these instructions even if you are using a builder’s level. Because the difference between transit and builders level is very less.


Question: Can you change the elevation of a house?

Answer: No, you can not change the elevation of a house. The elevation is a very important factor of the house. So you have to be careful from the beginning because later it can not be changed.

Question: How do you read elevations?

Answer: You have to look at the numbers opposite to the pointer. This is the reading of the true elevation. And you have to read the horizontal line if you are using an optical instrument.

Question: What is the elevation plan drawing?

Answer: The orthographic projection of one side of the house is known as the elevation plan/drawing. From this, the finished appearance of the house is found. Also, the height dimensions are calculated from the projection. 


We hope that now you know how to use transit for elevations. Measure the elevations carefully. If you think that you will not be able to do the job, hire a professional. Because small mistakes here can cause big problems later.