Understanding the Different Types of Land Surveys

Published on 30 April 2023 at 16:46

Have you ever seen a crew or a single individual in the process of doing a land survey? They tend to have very little equipment with them, yet the instruments they use manage to provide detailed information that can be used in a variety of ways. Establishing property lines, boundaries and where buildings and roads will be constructed are just some of the ways a land survey can be useful. What you may not realise is that there are different types of land surveys, so let’s break them down a bit.

Land Surveys Tend to Fall into Three Categories

Before looking at each category, it's worth noting that land surveys tend to fall into one of these three. Within each of these categories can be many specific surveys, making the category name more of an umbrella term.

Standard Land Surveys

Perhaps the most popular category is standard land surveys. These are used any time a person or developer needs to calculate the land area, boundary lines, etc. If new construction is taking place such as a new home, new building, or new roads, a standard land survey is necessary. It can be taken a step further with more detail given in a topographical survey.

Topographical land surveys come in handy during the preparation stage of construction or adaptations on a particular site. Within a detailed topographical drawing or survey are building positions, foliage, fences (boundaries), trees, service covers and levels. Land surveys such as these need to be done with high-tech equipment to ensure accuracy and provide the amount of detail needed by the client.

Engineering Surveys

Then we have engineering surveys, which encompass different features and are used to make sure that, when a building or structure is made, it is put in the right spot. It can be described as a survey that proves or offers verification for a proposed development. To conduct this survey, various instruments and techniques are used, so the surveyor must be well-trained. They need a combination of technical and numeracy skills since they are dealing with complex data.

Informational Surveys

Then we have informational surveys, which many people in the business also call plane or geodetic surveys. Think of this one as an investigative survey in a way, as the data gained is used to create a chart or map. A plane survey goes much deeper and also factors in the Earth's surface as a flat plane, whereas a geodetic survey factors in the curvature of the Earth and looks at a large area. For a geodetic survey, the surveyor will need to use both trilateration and triangulation.

For those who don’t work in the field as a land surveyor, it can be a rather mysterious field. The fact is that they’re used for a wide array of applications from simple things such as settling a property line dispute, to more complex tasks such as planning the development of roads, buildings and full sites. These surveys need to be incredibly detailed so trained professionals are required.