Rising Tides

Rising Tides

Many hear the term Global Warming but do not fully realize the impact that accompanies it. Besides the obvious of temperature changes and melting ice caps, there is also the loss of what was once prime waterfront real estate. Think of places such as Miami (or any part of Florida’s Southern tip), the Jersey shore, the coast of the Carolinas, & New York City to name a few. A 10ft rise in the sea level would see these areas underwater, and the sea would inundate once-bustling streets, homes, stadiums, beaches, & boardwalks.

Due to these concerns, many countries, companies, and individuals are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint to slow the rate of global temperature increase. Global warming is a naturally occurring event where gasses such as CO2 collect in the atmosphere and absorb the sunlight/solar radiation from the sun, stopping it from leaving the atmosphere. Since the industrial revolution, the annual CO2 emissions have exponentially increased the more developed we have become.

This rapid change in emissions is speeding up the Global Warming Cycle and can be seen in the increase of melting ice caps and extreme weather events around the globe, such as the hurricanes and flooding in recent years. There are some steps that everyday individuals can take to help reduce their carbon footprint without spending thousands on renovations and lifestyle changes. One such thing would be to adjust the temperature on the thermostat for when you are not home or asleep. Another would be to replace old halogen light bulbs that are frequently on all the time with an LED equivalent. These bulbs use a fraction of the energy that their halogen counterparts use and are becoming less expensive as more and more manufacturers get into the market. Just these two changes can have a positive impact on not only your carbon footprint but your utility bill as well.

For those able to spend more, solar panels, energy efficiency improvements for the home, and electric vehicles will significantly reduce your footprint. Speaking of electric vehicles, while they do reduce your dependency on gasoline, you still need to charge them up when not in use, and the power service to most homes is generated from coal or natural gas. So, unless you have a fancy solar charger for your new electric car, your carbon footprint doesn’t change too drastically.

We here at D.L. Howell are doing our part by participating in energy-saving programs during the warmer months and just recently switching over to LED lighting.


Why are you on my property?

Why are you on my property?

The question Surveyors hear most often, after “Are you taking my picture” is “If you are surveying my neighbor’s property, why are you over here on mine?” The most concise answer I can give is that to survey our client’s property, we must also “survey” the neighbors (adjoining) property. 

Considerable research is conducted before the fieldwork. This includes obtaining recorded deed and plan information for our client’s property and surrounding properties. This information, among others, is put together so our surveyors have the clearest possible idea of the property and can best plan our fieldwork. 

The fieldwork includes searching for our client’s property corners and adjoiner corners to verify the proper location of found corners. I often describe the process as putting a puzzle together. The deeds and plan information along with physical details found in the field are analyzed by the field crew and licensed surveyor in the office to determine the true location of property corners and lines. 

The job of the surveyor is to have as much information as possible before starting fieldwork and work as efficiently as possible in the field. We strive to be as minimally intrusive as possible when working. We will communicate with adjoiners and address their concerns regarding our fieldwork. 

Some things our clients can do to help us perform our jobs include notifying your neighbors of upcoming survey work and being upfront with us regarding any potential issues with neighbors.  

PA Senate Bill No. 166 Session 2013 enacts a Surveyor’s right to enter the land of another to perform surveying services (Click here to view the bill!). Our surveyors will make an effort to engage adjoiners during the survey to make them comfortable with the work required to perform the survey. We can provide appropriate information to neighbors, including the name of our client and our professional certification. If there is an issue with an adjoiner that cannot be resolved in the field, the surveyor will make the client aware. 

One of our goals is to leave our client’s relationship with their neighbors better than when we started. We can achieve this through friendly encounters and professional behavior. When we hear “Why are you on my property,” we most often reply with, “We are surveying your neighbor’s property….” It is our job to do everything possible to ensure that the neighbor is informed on why we need to be on their property. Most often, this can be accomplished with a smile and clear, concise information. 


Modular Construction

Modular Construction

What do you think of when you hear the term “Modular Construction”? What images pop up in your mind when you hear “Modular Home”? When I first started in this industry I had images of rectangular single story units, double wide trailers or shipping style containers, manufactured off site and dropped onto a residential lot. The truth is modular construction refers to a style of construction where the building components are assembled off site, and then installed on site. It has nothing to do with the aesthetics or appearance of the building units themselves. In fact, modern modular construction can produce endless shapes and sizes of units, and there can be many advantages to this style of construction.


For starters, the off site manufacturing process can take place indoors in a controlled environment. This allows for a more design based construction approach with very tight construction tolerances. The repetitive nature of the construction, along with no weather delays, allows for cheaper, and faster construction. Additionally, the controlled nature of the design and construction lends itself to a more-green approach, with low waste, in house recycling of materials and no site earth disturbance related to the home construction.


This process is widely used all across the globe for a full range of uses. Modular constructed units can be assembled efficiently into high density residential buildings or a small single unit can be placed in a remote location in the woods with very little impact to the surrounding environment. With the demand for affordable housing increasing, this style of construction will take a more prominent role in the housing market.

Telephone Poles – The More You Know!

Telephone Poles – The More You Know!

So, it’s that time again! No, it’s not “time to get ill” or “time to make the doughnuts” (80’s references for all of you millennials), but time to write my newsletter. I always think I’m going to write it ahead of time so it’s ready, but then my week comes and I’m scrambling to find a topic. I try to write about something that isn’t necessarily “engineering” specific or project related, thinking maybe those of you that receive our newsletter will actually read it rather than clicking on it so it’s not left as unread in your inbox. This time I was inspired by driving around and taking notice of something that is right in front of us all the time, but we never give much attention too… Telephone Poles!

Most people only think about them after they’ve hit one with their car or when the power goes out and they see the bright blue glow of an exploding transformer. As my analytical juices began to flow, I started to wonder just how many poles are out there as they are along almost every single road across our entire country? As I began researching it was quite the eye-opener. There are many different pole heights and diameters which are made of several types of trees. Since there is a ton of information to regurgitate that would most likely cause you to close this link (if you haven’t already), I’ll just give you a brief generalization of my findings.

Although commonly referred to as “telephone” or “utility” poles, they originated in the mid-1800s as “telegraph” poles for telegraph lines. Nowadays they carry phone, cable, electric and fiber optic lines. It is estimated that 3,000,000 poles are produced annually and there are 100,000,000 poles in use today. To put that in perspective for all you environmentalists, if they were grown in rows, 30’ on center, they would require 61,000+ acres per years. That’s roughly 100 square miles of forest which is an area 100x’s the size of West Chester. Poles typically range from 30 feet to 80 feet in height and have a diameter of 11 to 27 inches at the base. In order to be acceptable for pole use they require 6 rings of growth per inch. This means that your typical 30’ tall pole took over 33 years to grow while the 80’ pole took roughly 80 years.

Lastly, let’s look at the cost of a pole. This is really the most important bit of information because if you break one with your car you will need to pay out of pocket to replace. The cost of the pole is obviously based on the height and quality of the pole. There are different ratings for poles based on their load capacity. But poles themselves range from about $350 to $1,800. The most expensive part of pole replacement is in the labor which could easily exceed $3,000. Well, if I retained your attention long enough to make it to the end, I bet right now you are staring out the window and looking for the nearest utility pole!

Profound Technologies Receives Final Approval

Profound Technologies Receives Final Approval

Profound Technologies received final approval from the Upper Uwchlan Township Board of Supervisors to construct a 6,160 S.F. building addition. D.L. Howell had the pleasure of working with Kevin Busza, who is one of the partners of Profound Technologies. They are located near the intersection of Route 100 and Little Conestoga Road and have been in this location since 2017. Profound is an “IT” company that specializes in audio video and control system solutions for commercial, residential, government and education applications. D.L. Howell assisted Kevin through the Land Development process to obtain all the required approvals to expand his business with the help of Riley Riper Hollin & Colagreco, and Orsatti & Stuart Associates, Inc. Designing the site layout with the building addition and additional parking spaces brought along many challenges since this property was already developed with the existing building essentially in the center of the relatively small property. The required approvals from the Township included a Zoning Variance, Conditional Use, and Land Development. A Highway Occupancy Permit was also obtained from PENNDOT. Construction is slated to begin this spring and is expected to be completed by fall of this year. DL Howell is very appreciative to have had the opportunity to assist Profound Technologies in expanding their business.

Earth’s Magnetic North Pole is Moving!

Earth’s Magnetic North Pole is Moving!

(Excerpted from an article by Marcia Wendorf)

Did you know that the Earth has two magnetic poles?  They are the North and South Magnetic Poles.

Previously, between the years of 1590 and 1990, the North Magnetic Pole hung around northern Canada in an area covering about 1,400 square miles.  Just 20 years ago it was moving at a rate of 6.2 miles per year. Currently, the North Magnetic Pole is moving at a rate of 31 miles (50 km) per year.    It continues to accelerate as it moves away from Canada and toward Siberia.

What is causing the pole to move?

Earth’s magnetic field extends from its interior out into space.  Once in space, the field interacts with the solar wind, which is a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun.  If we didn’t have this magnetic field, the solar wind and cosmic rays would strip away the Earth’s ozone layer, which protects us from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

Earth’s magnetic field is created by the movement of liquid iron and nickel about 1,800 miles below the Earth’s surface.  Since the liquid is extremely hot (over 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit) it moves very easily.  This movement is known as “The Dynamo Effect”.

How does this affect me?

Those most affected by the shift in the North Magnetic Pole are airports and people who like to explore the outdoors with a map and compass.

Airports designate their runways based upon their relationship to Magnetic North.  They do this so that pilots may use the magnetic compass in their planes to orient themselves properly to the runway.  For example, if a runway is oriented at an azimuth of 90°, it would be given a designation of 9.  Coming from the other direction on the same runway (180° different) that runway is given a designation of 27 because it has an azimuth of 270°.  (Runways are rounded to the nearest 10 degrees).  As the North Magnetic Pole moves, these airports will have to change the designations of their runways to keep up with the shift.

The magnetic poles are weakening and may reverse.

In addition to moving, the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening at a rate of 5% every 100 years.  If it weakens too much, Earth will become vulnerable to cosmic and solar radiation.  This would have a catastrophic affect to life on Earth.

Sometimes, the North and South Magnetic Poles will switch places.  This happens, on average, about every 500,000 years.  The last time the poles reversed was 780,000 years ago, so we’re overdue for this phenomenon.

Fear not!  If this happens anytime soon, we at DL Howell and Howell Kline Surveying will be here to assist you in your time of need … and perhaps Denny will let us close the office at 5:00 p.m. that day.