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Topographic Surveys

Initially, topographic surveys were used to create topographic maps of the world around us. The process of surveying the United States for the purpose of mapping America began when John Wesley Powell, a geologist and explorer, convinced the American government in 1884 to use the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to this end. Since then, topographical maps of the United States have been completed and improved upon for 137 years.

Lammons Land Survey performs many types of Topographical Surveys

Elevation (Contour) surveys

Global Positioning System (GPS) Surveys

ATLA/NSPS Land Title Surveys

As-Built Surveys

Utility location Surveys

Route Surveys

Existing condition surveys

Site map surveys

Engineering design surveys

Architectural design surveys

Cross Section surveys

Volumetric surveys

Tree and wetland surveys

Hydrographic surveys

Bathymetric Surveys

Mining surveys

Drainage ditch, water rights and reservoir surveys

Who needs topographic surveys?

A topographic survey is needed prior to any construction or development project on any given parcel of land. Such projects can include environmental restoration, infrastructure projects, housing, commercial buildings, improvements, and more. This type of survey gives crucial information to people like engineers, architects, building contractors, and landowners before they break ground on a development project. A topographic survey will help a development project run smoothly and avoid any unforeseen hiccups caused by surprises in the landscape. It enables project designers such as architects to plot a building’s footprint around significant land features.

What is a topographical survey used for?

A topographical survey is used to complete a map with relief information, detailing features on the land including their height and depths. This data can then become the basis of terrain models and blueprints for construction and development that fits well into the landscape. Topographical maps are an essential step in the process of designing buildings, bridges, roads and other man-made features. 

Who should complete a topographic survey?

If you require a topographic survey, it’s important to hire a qualified individual or company with experience. Accuracy is key in topographical surveys, as any small errors can cause disaster for construction and development projects. Lammons Land Surveying is owned and operated by Andrew S. Lammons, P.L.S, CFedS, and we are licensed to practice in both Montana and Idaho. Andrew Lammons is a registered professional land surveyor with a Bachelor of Science in Surveying and Mapping from East Tennessee State University. He is also a member of the Montana Association of Registered Land Surveyors (MARLS), the National Society of Professional Land Surveyors (NSPS), and a Certified Federal Surveyor (CFedS). We have over ten years of local and professional experience and guarantee hands-on professional services. 

The first step is the planning phase where surveyors collect information about the land parcel they will be surveying, including maps that already exist. They will determine what level of detail is required in the resulting data. This planning phase will help the surveyors calculate how much time the survey will take. From there, the fieldwork begins where surveyors work on location to meticulously extract topographical data from the landscape using various forms of technology and measuring instruments. Data is collected in 3 dimensions so that the resulting maps will have clear indications of elevation, depth, and features on the land. This can help with construction plans, ensuring the project isn’t placed over large ravines, springs or other natural features. Once all of the data is painstakingly collected, it is then analyzed and used to form a detailed contour and relief map of the area. The results will be subject to quality control processing before the client is given the final results.

When you hire Lammons Land Surveying to complete a topographical survey of your land, the resulting map and data will include a lot of different types of information. First, you’ll find your topographic survey has identified, located, and fully measured any and all features on your land, whether manmade or natural. You’ll also find data on the elevation and depth of all parts of the land that has been surveyed.

The features that may be included in your topographic survey data are mountains, hills, springs, ravines, ditches, creeks, rivers, and more. They can also include manmade features such as roads, bridges, and dams.

Each project is different and can take anywhere from hours to months. As you might be able to imagine, rough terrain with steep ridges and deep crevasses will much more difficult to measure accurately than a flat, perfectly square parcel of land with no features. Generally speaking, the more features and variation in elevation your land has, the longer your topographical survey will take.

The overall cost of a topographic survey is going to depend on what sort of terrain is being surveyed. The cost is closely tied to the amount of time required to complete the survey, which can be prolonged by rough, overgrown terrain with high peaks and water features. As such, a flat parcel of land with few features will take less time and therefore cost less to survey.

Lammons Land Surveying makes use of high quality, precise global positioning systems (GPS) as well as a total station theodolite with EDM or electronic distance measurement and a microprocessor that can store all of the information that is collected. Various other tools and equipment will come in handy depending on the terrain being surveyed.