Topographic Survey

Topographic Survey

Topographic surveys map the contours of the ground and existing features on the surface of the earth or slightly above or below the earth’s surface (i.e. trees, buildings, streets, walkways, utilities, retaining walls, etc.).  If the purpose of the survey is to serve as a base map for the design of a residence or building of some type, or design a road or driveway, it may be necessary to show perimeter boundary lines and the lines of easements on or crossing the property being surveyed, in order for a designer to accurately show zoning and other agency required setbacks.

What Are They Used For

Topographic surveys are used by a variety of people—engineers, architects, foresters, geologists, homeowners, contractors, etc. The most common uses of topographic surveys is in the planning stages of projects to help design the layout and location of buildings, roads, dams, pipelines, landscapes, trails, etc. Topographic surveys may also be used when determining the optimal plan for drainage, grading, or other features, using the natural landscape as the basis for such improvements.

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What Is Shown on the Survey

The amount of detail included in a topographic survey largely depends on your needs. Typically, the survey will depict the locations of existing structures and other physical features, along with boundary details, elevation contours and/or spot grade elevations, tree positions and sizes, drainage details, and utility service covers.

Unlike Physical Surveys, a topographic survey focuses more on elevation than on horizontal measurements. Most measurements are done either with a survey-quality GPS unit, or electronic EDM instrument. The results of the topographic survey are not marked using stakes or other landmarks, like with most other land surveys. Instead, they are presented as contour lines on a map of the land.

Topographic Survey
Vacant Topographic Survey