Topography refers to the study of the size, location, shape, and features of natural or artificial structures on a given piece of land. Therefore, topographic surveys, also known as land surveys, gather data on land features and terrains. Land surveyors usually use topographic maps to visualize their sites accurately and ensure proper development planning.
Historical Background of Topographic Surveys
The creation of topographic surveys took place in series. They were performed on a large scale and were meant to show the landforms and elevations that were not previously listed in the traditional surveys and maps. The Carte géométrique de la France, created in 1978, is known as the first-ever topographic map in the country.
In the earlier days of the evolution of the topographic surveys, the main applications included military, building, and infrastructure guidance. However, as their applications grew, the maps also evolved. In the 1980s, databases began to replace print maps. Around the same time, designers began to combine the data in the traditional print maps with other sources, resulting in maps that you can now access online.
Uses of Topographic Surveys
There are several reasons why land surveyors may be requested to produce topographic surveys. Some of the most common reasons are;
- Providing guidance for the construction of grading or drainage ditches
- Improvement of properties and restoration of the environment.
- To help companies and individuals meet the regulatory requirements provided in the construction codes.
- When land was meant for one purpose but is currently being used for another purpose.
- To facilitate architectural and construction projects.
Who Uses Topographic Surveys?
- Engineers- These professionals use topographic surveys to determine a land surface’s elevation. Thus, it helps the engineers decide whether they need to remove or bring in the dirt to adjust the property’s grade.
- Architects- These experts also find topographic surveys useful when planning for a construction project. They use the surveys to create 3D plots of their construction projects’ designs. These plots are later presented to decision-makers to approve the proposed project before groundbreaking.
- Government agencies- Institutions also use topographic surveys for several reasons. The surveys are used when evaluating the existing infrastructure and the required revisions. They also use land surveys to make and enforce zoning regulations and construct projects. Government agencies can also use these maps to determine the viability of their environmental projects accurately.
- Project managers- Professionals can also use topographic surveys to ensure that topographical challenges will not limit a building site. However, if they have approved a project on land with such challenges, the maps help them evaluate whether the proposed designs will be viable given these conditions.
- Forestry, geology, and petroleum industries can also benefit from topographic surveys.
Topographic surveys have numerous applications in both the private and public sectors. Although you may need several surveys before kick-starting your project, conducting topographic surveys before groundbreaking will save you time and money and give you peace of mind. Therefore, the process should not push you to overlook the topographic surveys. Instead, ensuring land integrity and its suitability for proposed designs should affirm your decision to get these surveys done.