Topography is the study of the shape and features of a piece of land, so the goal of topographic surveying and mapping is to get an accurate reading of a parcel’s natural and man-made features. Architects, engineers and construction teams use the three-dimensional maps created after a topographic survey to visualize the land before breaking ground on any new construction.
Whether you’re a landowner thinking about building on your property or are interested in learning more about surveying in general, keep reading to learn what topographic surveys should include and to get answers to a few commonly asked questions:
- Contours: A topographic survey shows the peaks and valleys on a piece of land. When a developer knows about significant differences in elevation, they can more safely design and build a structure.
- Physical attributes: Everything from streams to trees gets charted in a topographic survey. While some of these physical attributes can be removed, developers may need to work around other features charted in a topographic survey.
- Utilities: Electrical lines, pipelines and any other type of aboveground or belowground utilities are also included in a detailed topographic survey. Without this information, construction crews can run into dangerous utility lines during the building process.
How long does the surveying process take?
Because so much data needs to be collected during a topographic survey, this can be a time-consuming process. You can generally expect the survey to take anywhere from one day to up to a week. As you can imagine, the timeline for completion varies depending on the property’s size and any other challenges that arise during the job.
Thankfully, today’s surveyors use high-tech GPS devices along with aerial lidar and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to speed the project along. Pros will also use total stations on the ground to get a look at features that may be obstructed from their view during aerial photogrammetry.
How is the data translated?
Handing a client a list of facts and figures acquired during the topographic survey won’t do them much good. Surveyors work with computer-aided design (CAD) specialists to create a detailed, multidimensional map that provides clients with the most relevant data in an easy-to-read format. With advanced technology, these maps can also show how the land’s topography will change after the proposed developments are built out.
When do you need a detailed topographic survey?
As we touched on above, a topographic survey is required for any new construction project. Along with ensuring that proposed construction projects can move forward, the results from topographic surveys help developers establish timelines and budgets for their projects. These surveys are also useful in smaller-scale projects, like landscaping jobs, to ensure total success.
Who can perform a topographic survey?
The answer to this one is pretty straightforward. Only a licensed surveyor can perform a topographic survey. If you want the most accurate data, be sure to choose D.G. Smyth & Co., Inc. With decades of topographic surveying and mapping experience, you can trust that our team will get it right the first time.