When buying, selling, or developing land or property, it is important to work with professional land surveyors to inspect the area first.

Land surveying is essentially a detailed inspection done to map out the features and boundaries of your land or property. It is a complex process requiring technical expertise and specialized equipment like software and GPS to get accurate measurements.

To better understand what land surveying entails, check out this guide on different types of land surveys, the techniques used to conduct them, and the main benefits of getting these surveys done.

Types of Land Surveys

There are many types of land surveys that can be conducted, each one differing in technique and purpose. These are the seven main types to get you acquainted:


ALTA/ACSM surveys provide data on boundaries and easements to lenders, title companies, or attorneys representing each party in a commercial real estate transaction so that they can issue title insurance.

This survey type is considered the gold standard in land surveys since it is the most comprehensive and complies with the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) standards.

Boundary Survey

As its name suggests, boundary surveys formally define a specific property’s boundary. They are done through public records research and fieldwork, where the surveyor takes measurements and performs necessary computations to identify boundary lines.

This survey is critical for construction due diligence to get proper permits and avoid boundary disputes.

Location Survey

Location surveys are similar to boundary surveys but contain added information on interior improvements and their corresponding locations. Title insurers and mortgage lenders usually contract these to get legal proof that the improvements are located on the property.

Thus, you may encounter this survey when applying for zoning permits or loans.

Topographic Survey

Topographic surveys allow you to identify and locate natural and man-made features on a piece of land. These include buildings, fences, trees, and utilities, as well as contours and spot levels to determine terrain elevations.

In most cases, this survey is shown as a three-dimensional map made with a GPS and Electronic Distance Metering (EDM) tool and is used to plan out property improvements like landscapes.

Site Planning Survey

You can think of this survey as a combination of a boundary and topographic survey. It is useful for site planning, specifically for construction developments or designing improvements to properties, so you may need this to get a permit.

Generally, it includes data like topographic elevations, trees and fences, coverage, and proposed improvements.

Construction Survey

Construction surveys stake out structures and markers in properties to direct construction personnel in building structures like roads, buildings, and utilities. They involve taking and documenting measurements to finalize construction plans and calculate accurate payments.

Subdivision Survey

Subdivision surveys are used to split a piece of land into smaller lots and estates or design drainage systems and streets. They often come into the picture in housing development projects, such as when you want to sell part of your land to a developer.

Benefits of Land Surveying

As seen in the many types of surveys, land surveying can benefithomeowners, buyers, builders, new construction, land developers, realtors, and mortgage professionals for many reasons and occasions. Here are just a few to name:

  • Avoid boundary disputes. Land surveys play a crucial role in the pre-construction phase to ensure that your design or development is within your land’s perimeter. This way, you can avoid boundary disputes that can be tricky to resolve later on.
  • Estimate property value accurately. If you plan to sell your land or property, a land survey can help you appraise it more accurately. Buyers may also ask for this before purchasing, so it is important to use it as a point of reference when valuing your asset.
  • Assess property or land purchases. Land surveys allow you to assess a land or property more thoroughly to make more informed purchase decisions.

Many times, you only get surface-level information when scanning listings. But with a land survey, you can verify things like encroachment, which could lead to legal issues if you end up buying the property.

  • Subdivide land. If you want to divide your land into smaller parcels to sell off or use for commercial purposes, you can get a subdivision survey made. This will help you split and price your land accurately to avoid inaccuracies in the construction or sale process.
  • Understand Topography. Topographic details can inform you of things like how prone an area is to flooding or whether structural issues exist. Having this information can then help you decide whether to push through with your construction or purchase plans.

As you can see, land surveying is a critical part of any development project or real estate transaction. Working with a professional surveyor gives you accurate details and measurements of land or property, thereby avoiding legal conflicts and allowing you to make more strategic decisions.