A land survey involves locating and measuring both man-made and natural features using the principles of mathematics, geometry, and other sciences. By using various tools, a land surveyor can measure things such as elevation, angles, and boundaries on a property.

There are multiple forms of land survey, each with a unique purpose.

1. Cadastral Survey

Survey relating to land boundaries and subdivisions, made to create or to define the limitations of a title, and to determine a unit suitable for transfer. Includes surveys involving re-tracements for the identification, and resurveys for the restoration, of property lines. 

This is one of the most comprehensive types of land survey because it covers all of the features and characteristics of the property.

2. Boundary Survey

A boundary survey is used to locate the corners and boundary lines of a parcel of land. This type of survey involves both record and field research, including any measurements and computations needed to set the boundary lines in accordance with applicable state laws. A boundary survey may also involve locating easement lines and encroachments.

3. Construction Survey

This type of survey requires staking out structures located on the property, including walls, buildings, roads, and utilities. Staking provides construction personnel with directions for implementing the improvements shown on the development plans. A construction survey may also involve both horizontal and vertical grading in addition to an As-Built survey.

4. Location Survey

Similar to a boundary survey, a location survey provides additional information on the location of interior improvements. This type of survey is most commonly used to fulfill the requirements of a zoning permit or loan application.

5. Site Planning Survey

Often a requirement for development permit applications, a site planning survey combines the elements of boundary and topographic surveys for site planning. This survey is used to plan design improvements and developments before construction begins.

Site planning surveys are frequently used for designing house lots, subdivisions, stores, playgrounds, commercial & industrial sites, and streets and highways.

6. Subdivision Survey

A subdivision survey is used to divide a parcel of land into smaller tracts, lots, or estates. This type of survey is also used to design streets and drainages, and it must be recorded by the local and state government agency. This survey is also known as a partition survey.

7. Topographic Survey

The purpose of this survey is to locate both natural and man-made topographic features on a parcel of land. Examples of such features include fences, utilities, buildings, elevations, streams, trees, improvements, and contours. A topographic survey may be required by a state or local government agency or might be used by architects and engineers for planning site improvements and developments.

A topographic survey is typically implemented through a combination of aerial photography and ground field methods. This type of survey is not limited by property boundaries.

Most of these terms have one thing in common, and that’s property. Some might appear to be similar in definition but in practice they are not.

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