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Topographic Surveys

A topographic survey locates all surface features of a property, and depicts all natural features and elevations. In essence it is a 3-dimensional map of a 3-dimensional property showing all natural and man-made features and improvements. Specifically, it shows their location, size, height and any changes in elevation.

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When to request a Topographic Survey

Topographic surveys, also known as contour surveys, may be required as part of real estate transactions, civil engineering design and construction projects, including:

  • New construction
  • Remodeling projects to existing structures
  • Utility design
  • Road or bridge design or improvements
  • Grading or drainage projects

Topographic surveys are required by many local government bodies to determine the existing conditions and elevations of a site. Together with a boundary survey, topographic surveys are used by architects and engineers to create accurate and appropriate designs based on existing conditions.

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Digging Deeper

Using data from Topographic Surveys

Measurements for topographic surveys are done either with a surveying-quality GPS unit, or with an electronic EDM instrument. The results of the topographic survey are presented as contour lines on a site map, and can be enhanced by computer software to provide interactive views. Partner’s network of surveyors and CAD specialists are able to input this data to model how the topography may change through planned improvements.

Clients can use topographic surveys to determine and plan features such as drainage ditches, grading, or other features, using the natural landscape as the basis for such improvements. Engaging a professional surveyor to conduct a topographic survey prior to real estate transaction or the commencement or a construction project will ensure that the land’s features will be suitable for its intended use. In addition, a topographic survey can provide valuable insight in to how a site’s previous or current use how affected the land, enabling better planning for future use.

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