The Different Types of Land Surveys

Specializations of surveying may be classed differently according to the local professional organization or regulatory body, but may be broadly grouped as follows.

  • As-built survey: a survey carried out during or immediately after a construction project for record, completion evaluation and payment purposes. An as-built survey is also known as a ‘works as executed survey’ and documents the location of the recently constructed elements that are subject to completion evaluation. As built surveys are often presented in red or redline and overlaid over existing design plans for direct comparison with design information.
  • Cadastral or Boundary surveying: a survey that establishes or re-establishes boundaries of a parcel using its legal description, which typically involves the setting or restoration of monuments or markers at the corners or along the lines of the parcel, often in the form of iron rods, pipes, or concrete monuments in the ground, or nailsset in concrete or asphalt. A mortgage survey or physical survey is a simple survey that delineates land boundaries and building locations. In many places a mortgage survey is required by lending institutions as a precondition for a mortgage loan. The ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey is a surveying standard jointly proposed by theAmerican Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping that incorporates elements of the boundary survey, mortgage survey, and topographic survey.
  • Control surveying: Control surveys establish reference points that surveyors can use to establish their own position at the start of future surveys. Most other forms of surveying will contain elements of control surveying.
  • Deformation survey: a survey to determine if a structure or object is changing shape or moving. The three-dimensional positions of specific points on an object are determined, a period of time is allowed to pass, these positions are then re-measured and calculated, and a comparison between the two sets of positions is made.
  • Dimensional control survey: This is a type of Survey conducted in or on an non-level surface. Commonly used in the oil and gas industry to replace old or damaged pipes on a like-for-like basis, the advantage of dimensional control survey is that the instrument used to conduct the survey does not need to be level. This is advantageous in the off-shore industry, as not all platforms are fixed and are thus subject to movement.
  • Engineering surveying: those surveys associated with the engineering design (topographic, layout and as-built) often requiring geodetic computations beyond normal civil engineering practice.
  • Foundation survey: a survey done to collect the positional data on a foundation that has been poured and is cured. This is done to ensure that the foundation was constructed in the location, and at the elevation, authorized in the plot plan, site plan, or subdivision plan.
  • Hydrographic survey: a survey conducted with the purpose of mapping the shoreline and bed of a body of water for navigation, engineering, or resource management purposes.
  • Leveling: either finds the elevation of a given point or establish a point at a given elevation.
  • Measured survey : a building survey to produce plans of the building. such a survey may be conducted before renovation works, for commercial purpose, or at end of the construction process.
  • Mining surveying: Mining surveying includes directing the digging of mine shafts and galleries and the calculation of volume of rock. It uses specialised techniques due to the restraints to survey geometry such as vertical shafts and narrow passages.
  • Stakeout, Layout or Setout: an element of many other surveys where the calculated or proposed position of an object is marked on the ground, either temporarily or permanently. This is an important component of engineering and cadastral surveying.
  • Structural survey: a detailed inspection to report upon the physical condition and structural stability of a building or other structure and to highlight any work needed to maintain it in good repair.
  • Topographic survey: a survey that measures the elevation of points on a particular piece of land, and presents them as contour lines on a plot.


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