What You Need to Know About Topographic Surveys

Topographic surveys include field measurement and preparation of a plat to establish land elevations. These surveys are typically contracted by a residential or commercial property owner before making improvements to the property such as, but not limited to, additions, landscaping, or parking lots. If you are developing, building, demolishing, you will likely need a topographic survey!

While a boundary survey focuses on horizontal measurements, topographic surveys are about elevation. A topographic survey shows the height, depth, size, and location of any man-made or natural features on a specified parcel of land, as well as the changes or contours in elevation throughout the parcel.

A variety of equipment is required to conduct a topographic survey, as it shows existing features, property lines, and contour lines that indicate the lay of the land. These surveys require a surveying-quality global positioning system (GPS) unit and electronic distance measurement (EDM) total station to determine the locations of features shown on the plan.  

Oftentimes, the purpose of a topographic survey is to help clients identify and assess features, elevations, and slopes at a property site to ensure that it is appropriate and feasible for the intended construction projects. They also assist with geographic planning, earth science studies, and civil engineering projects, including:

  • New construction and architectural projects
  • Remodeling projects to existing structures
  • Environmental restoration and property improvements
  • Utility design
  • To fulfill regulatory requirements for construction codes
  • Road or bridge design or improvements
  • Grading or drainage projects
  • When land developed for one purpose is being used for another purpose

Engaging a professional surveyor to conduct a topographic survey prior to a real estate transaction or the commencement of a construction project ensures that the land’s features will be suitable for its intended use. In addition, a topographic survey can provide valuable insight into how a site’s previous or current use affected the land, enabling better planning for future use.

Investing in a topographic land survey is an investment in peace of mind, both now, and down the road. With more than 50 years of experience in all 88 counties of Ohio, McSteen Land Surveyors is a leader in the industry. Contact us today and let our team of survey professionals take on your surveying needs.

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