What is a topographical survey?

What is a topographical survey?

Knowing the land and its boundaries is paramount to building a land-based construction and meeting its very purpose. This is called a topographical survey, which is greatly responsible for the viability and profitability of your project. In this article, we’ll learn what a topographical survey is and all that is needed to know about conducting it. 

What is a topographical survey?

A topographical survey is a thorough map of a land’s natural and man-made features. This encompasses altitudes, curves, bodies of water, flora, and man-made structures. Topographic surveys are used in a wide range of industries, including construction and engineering, land development, and real estate. They give vital information for planning and design, as well as understanding a site’s natural environment. 

A topographical survey is carried out both on and beneath the land. The survey conducted above ground includes details of the features, both man-made and natural. Utility poles, pathways, wells, manholes, walls, trees, and soil density are all considered in the study. The fact is that each feature on the site is reflected on a map to study before the start of the construction phase and activities.

The duration of the process is determined by the complexity of the terrain, the size of the region to be surveyed, and whether the project involves urban or rural development. However, it may take several days, weeks, or even months to finish.

Survey services include aerial mapping/photogrammetry, topographic surveys, utility surveys, and wetland surveys, to mention a few. The method varies depending on the type of survey, but common steps include:

  • Gathering essential information about the area.
  • Outline the time schedule.
  • Estimating the cost
  • Processing data
  • Preparing final survey results
  • Delivering the final survey results

Ideally, the topographic survey presents a digital 3-dimensional map that shows the location, size, and height of the man-made and natural features and improvements on the proposed land.  

What are the purposes of a topographical survey?

The goal of a topographic survey is to collect spatial data about the location and its natural and manmade terrain features. Points are often positioned in three dimensions to assist ground modelling and visualisations based on topographical surveys.

What additional information can you expect from a topographical survey?

Topographical surveys can often provide additional information to help a design team consider the necessary and relevant site limitations. This may include:

  • Site sections through gradient transects of particularly diverse gradients.
  • Spot heights of surrounding land and site features, such as neighbouring properties, to assess overlooking.
  • Information on underground utilities (from radar tracing and integrating utility record data).

Topographical surveys help civil engineers understand the shape and nature of land, natural or manufactured formations on the ground, plot boundaries, and legal elements of the land. The data from the topographical survey is then used to determine the optimal construction plan.

Regardless of the type of structure on the studied land, the maps and contours created during the topographical survey serve as the basis for the map. Prior to the construction of houses, bridges, highways, commercial structures, and other forms of development, a topographical survey is done.

What elements are surveyed in a topographical survey?

The features of the land to be surveyed vary from site to site and are also determined by the client’s requirements. In general, topographic surveys include the following elements:

  • Area boundary lines
  • Buildings and structures
  • Street furniture includes seats, bollards, post boxes, phone boxes, street lamps, traffic signals and signs, public transportation stations, public restrooms, memorials, public sculptures, and rubbish bins
  • Tree, bush, and vegetation placements
  • Water channels (including brooks, streams, ponds, and lakes)
  • Ground elevations, curves, and surfaces
  • Drainage features
  • Water levels
  • Features adjacent to the location

How does a topographical survey help your project?

You can obtain accurate measurements of the ground and a comprehensive picture of the layout of an existing property by ordering a topographic survey. It will support the decision-making process for site drainage design, border relocation, and new development planning.

A topographical survey improves the certainty of any planned development by reducing the possibility of costly errors that could occur without an accurate representation of the complete construction site beforehand.

A survey can reveal information that is not immediately apparent, such as changes to land over time.

Those intending to build on-site will have a better concept of the land’s condition and its potential impact on the type of structure that can be developed there after doing a measured survey and comprehending the terrain. This assures that any structure is on solid ground.

When to conduct a topographic survey

Topographic surveys, also called, contour surveys, may be crucial in real estate transactions, civil engineering design, and construction projects, such as:

  • New construction.
  • Remodelling projects for existing structures
  • Utility design.
  • Road or bridge design or improvement
  • Grading and drainage projects

Many local governments need topographic surveys to determine the site’s current characteristics and elevations. Topographic surveys, along with boundary surveys, help architects and engineers build correct and acceptable designs based on actual conditions.

What survey instruments are used during a topographical survey?

Topographic surveys are conducted using a variety of devices to obtain precise measurements of a site’s attributes. Electronic EDM equipment uses surveying-grade GPS systems.

Accurate GPS equipment will survey the area and generate permanent points of land that may be used as reference markers to connect accurate data to the national coordinate system.

We can develop accurate computer-aided design (CAD) drawings using laser scanning equipment, with all site dimensions displayed, as well as fully scaled 3D drawings, to provide you with a complete picture of the site.

For difficult-to-reach places, we can use drone technology to perform laser scanning and obtain accurate details. 

Looking for professional help for your topographic surveying needs? Our team of experts at Fluidscapes Construction specialises in topographical surveys. We would be pleased to speak with you over the phone or via email if you have any more concerns about topographical surveying or if you’re prepared to schedule a survey and need to clarify your precise needs. Please visit Fluidconstructions