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Topographic Survey

A Topographic Survey, sometimes referred to as a Topo Survey, is usually carried out in order to have an accurate record of the existing conditions of a parcel of land that is about to undergo some type of construction activity. The purpose of a Topographic Survey Map is to gather survey data that will show the location of natural and man-made features including above ground improvements such as buildings, curbs, sidewalks, trees, landscape areas, streams, rock out croppings, manholes, catch basins, fire hydrants, utility poles retaining walls, contour lines and/or spot elevations, etc. The Topo Survey may also include any man made underground features, sometimes from reference maps provided by others like buried gas lines, buried water lines, buried electrical lines, etc.. Some of these buried utilities will actually be measured and identified in detail by the surveyor like sewer lines, storm drain lines, etc. Property lines will usually be shown for reference purposes and elevations may be relative to a published vertical datum or an assumed local datum. Easements of record can be located with respect to the property lines and plotted on the map if the client provides a Title Report. Design teams, Engineers and Architects use a Topo Survey as the beginning surface of their design and then plan what the proposed final surface will be like. Having this original surface allows the Engineer to balance the earthwork so that dirt need not be taken off the site or brought onto the site. The Engineer may also use the beginning surface to calculate the amount of earthwork that might be needed to bring in or export from the site to achieve the final grade. An Architect uses the Topo Survey in a similar way, but may also plot the surface in three-dimensions to get an idea of the finished look of the site with the proposed improvements. The property lines and easements that are plotted on the Topographic Survey Map will be used by the Architect to establish the required set-backs as required by the local planning agency. This will be used in a plan presentation to the owner of the land and or to a public agency for the plan approval process.  

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