Topographical Surveys: What, How and Why

April 18, 2019

A topographical survey is usually needed by the architect and/or engineers when developing or altering land. This includes new building projects, redevelopments and civil engineering projects. Land surveyors, therefore, are often the first professionals on site; whatever the nature of the project, contractors need surveyors to record and produce detailed drawings of the land and surrounding area before they can commence work. But what exactly do topographical surveys show and how are they undertaken?

What Is a Topographical Survey?

A topographical survey (sometimes known as a land survey) measures and identifies the exact location and dimensions of all natural elements and man-made features within an area of land. The data from this survey is then used to draw up a detailed plan of the area. The survey records natural features of the land such as trees, watercourses and ground contours. It also collects data on man-made features such as walkways and buildings etc. Smaller features like drains and lampposts are also included, as well as things like boundaries and rights of access. Land surveys can encompass other types of surveys such as measured surveys and utilities surveys.

Why Do You Need a Topographical Survey?

A land survey is essential when designing any land development project. Having accurate measurements of the land and the position of any items/obstacles allows a project to be planned accurately and safely. The end product gives you a birds-eye view of the site and how it is arranged, helping to avoid any issues later in the construction process. Topographical surveys are especially useful for:

  • Planning new buildings
  • Re-positioning boundaries
  • Designing drainage schemes

How Are Topographical Surveys Undertaken On Site?

Using the latest Leica equipment - including GPS and robotic total stations, laser scanners and precise digital levels - surveyors measure all features of the built or natural environment within a specified area.

The survey begins with the team placing marker points using the GPS and total stations. The markers usually come in the form of survey nails secured into solid ground, or reflective tape targets fixed to walls. As the surveyors move their equipment around the site, these markers allow them to accurately keep track of their position.

Using a modern robotic total station, a surveyor can move around the site quickly and efficiently. The total station uses laser technology to accurately record the position and dimension of any objects on site. The surveyor can use a wireless computer unit to take points without physically having to look through the lens of the total station, making the process a lot faster.

What Data Types Can Be Produced?

Following the site survey, a range of information and drawings can be produced. This includes:

  • 2D and 3D Plan Drawings Sections
  • Profiles and volumes
  • Autodesk Civil 3D surfaces
  • 3D Models
  • 3D Animation/Fly-Through Videos
  • 3D Visualisations
  • Building Information Models (BIM)

Scan Tech Surveys can measure any feature of the built or natural environment swiftly and precisely, to the highest standard attainable. If you require a land survey for your project, don't hesitate to get in touch for a quote.

Copyright 2018 © Scan Tech Surveys
Website Made With ♥ by WestCoastCo.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram