What Are The Different Types of Land Surveys?

Land development, property renovations, subdivisions, and changes to use of land are all lengthy and costly projects to embark on. Getting one part of the process wrong can lead not only to delays but difficulties further down the line in terms of land disputes, for example. Even for the experienced developer it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of all the relevant requirements and land surveys. For first time investors or developers, understanding which survey is required for the project is key before paying out for something that is not going to be fit for purpose.

To the lay person it is very easy to assume that land surveys are all the same across the board, however there are different types to be aware of. Knowing the key features of each survey will determine which one you need for your building works and this is where you need the expertise of land surveyors in Victoria.

The Boundary Survey

This is probably the survey that most people think of when they are told they need to commission a land survey. This is used to locate the boundary lines and corners of a parcel of land and is sometimes referred to a Cadastral surveying. The surveyor will establish the dimensions of the land you own or are planning to own and it defines land ownership by law. A boundary survey will also establish any encroachments or easements on the land, for example a right of way for utility companies to access a water source or water pipe. Both field research and record research will be undertaken by land surveying consultants.

The Topographic Survey

If planning requires mapping of any heritage land or native protected vegetation or you are planning to build on a slope, then a topographic survey focuses specifically on manmade as well as natural structures on the land. Existing hedges, trees or creeks as well as fencing or other landscape elements will be recorded to assist structural engineers and architects who have to factor these into their building plans. Typically undertaken using a combination of ground field work and aerial photography, this may also be a requirement of the state, but this can be confirmed by your land surveyors.

The Hydrographic Survey

This is very much reserved for surveying waterways which may not seem relevant to the property developer at first sight. However, it is very important in mapping and measuring water ways – giving important information on storm drains for example, or hydraulic information needed by the landowner – as well as government agencies and investors. This is also useful for homeowners who would receive vital information on the effect of storms i.e. potential flooding areas. With the changes in climate and adverse weather conditions seen across the country, understanding how your property can be affected by sudden floods is key. It is also useful when reviewing home insurance as you can demonstrate you are not living in a potential risk area.

The Site Planning Survey

This is a combination of both topographical and boundary survey and very much required prior to any building work as it is often the requirement for planning permits. Often used for designing subdivisions, outside play and recreational areas, streets and highways as well as commercial and industrial sites. Leading on from this type of survey is also the sub division or partition survey. As the name suggests this is where a plot of land is being divided into smaller portions or sub-divisions. If buying land for a housing development or industrial units, this may be the sort of survey best suited to your purposes. This type of survey is also used to design drainage and streets, so it has to be recorded by the relevant government agency.

The Construction Survey

When passing a building site being prepared for development, you may well have seen the ground staked out in and around structures on the property. Walls, roads, and utilities are all surveyed and the stakes give the construction teams directions for putting in place any improvements that are drawn up on the development plan.

The Aerial Survey

This can also be known as photo mapping, but surveyors also use aerial photography and/or film particularly when it comes to large scale projects. This can be undertaken by manned aircraft but increasingly these days, surveyors are turning to the latest in aerial technology and using unmanned drones. What is known as “orthophotos” are caught on camera via aerial photography, then geometrically corrected to a uniform scale. Adjustments are made for camera tilt and topographic relief so these orthophotos are incredibly accurate when it comes to measuring distance. Typically covering large areas these images are “stitched” together to give impressive results. This sort of surveying can be used for a range of projects from establishing environment compliance to surveying mining and industrial areas and urban infrastructure.

The Environmental Planning Survey

These are now one of the most relevant and important surveys as the change in climate and increase in global warming impacts on all of us. When submitting plans for developing or changing use of land, the question of sustainability will need to be addressed. Environmental surveyors mostly work on the study and monitoring aspects of wildlife and key habitats. They are involved in contributing and producing environmental impact statements, so developers work in parallel with them to ensure what they are building has minimum impact on the land and environment.

An environmental survey will also provide you with a range of information so that you can make better decisions on areas such as water usage, management of waste and contaminants as well as reviewing choice of energy supply.

All of the above surveys are in place to ensure that the ideas or investments you are looking at to turn into reality; they also help other professionals such as the construction team, architect and engineers make their design and build fit in with the surrounding environment. Land surveys help prevent disputes between neighbours and give you peace of mind. To understand which survey is key to your project talk to the expert land surveyors and planning consultants.