Understanding surveying

Since the dawn of written history, surveying has played a role in the evolution of the human environment. It is necessary for the majority of construction-related planning and implementation. It is a crucial instrument for research in many other scientific fields and is utilized in transportation, communications, mapping, and the establishment of the boundaries of property ownership.

Since humans created the first huge constructions, surveys have been conducted. After the periodic Nile River floods, a rope stretcher in ancient Egypt would employ basic geometry to redraw boundaries. The Great Pyramid of Giza, constructed in 2700 BC, is nearly perfectly square and faces north and south, demonstrating the Egyptians’ mastery of surveying. Mesopotamia is where the groma instrument first appeared (early 1st millennium BC). Ancient surveyors used peg and rope geometry to lay out the prehistoric monument at Stonehenge (about 2500 BC). Well In this article we’ll be answering the questions about surveying



  • What is surveying?
  • What are the types of surveying?
  • How do you conduct surveying?
  • What is surveying equipment?
  • How is surveying related to civil engineering?
  • What are surveying courses

Let’s begin


What is surveying?

The science and art of surveying involve taking all necessary measurements in order to establish the relative positions of points or physical and cultural elements above, on, or below the Earth’s surface and to display those locations in a usable manner.

Establishing points using specified angular and linear measurements is another strategy used in surveys. The area and volume of a certain piece of land can be determined from the plans, sections, and maps created by surveying. A map does not depict the real area but rather a horizontal projection of the region surveyed. However, sketching sections can more accurately depict the vertical distance.

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What are the types of surveying?

There are two broad categories into which surveys can be split.

  • Plane surveying
  • geodetic surveying

Plane surveying

A particular method of surveying known as “plane surveying” ignores the earth’s curvature and treats the surface of the planet as a plane. Any two points can be connected with a straight line, and polygonal angles are plane angles.

This kind of surveying is best for flat, limited areas because of its low degree of accuracy. In America, a surface can only be treated as a plane up to a size of around 250 km2.

geodetic surveying

The curvature of the earth is taken into consideration in geodetic surveying, a specific sort of surveying. The line connecting any two places on the surface of the earth is curved or forms an arc because of the spherical shape of the planet. As a result, spherical trigonometry is required. Large areas and distances are surveyed with relatively high accuracy in geodetic surveying.

other types of surveying

  • Engineering surveying.
  • Mining surveying.
  • Hydrographic (Bathymetric) surveying..
  • Aerial (Photogrammetry and remote sensing)
  • Topographic (Detail/Tachymetry

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How do you conduct surveying?

Below are the steps to conducting a survey

  • Determine if you need to survey the land.
  • Understand that existing boundaries may not be accurate
  • Decide to survey the land yourself.
  • Gather your tools.
  • Locate a known corner.
  • Start at the known corner.
  • Use your compass to identify the location of the next corner
  • Mark the corner when you’ve reached it
  • Repeat for the other corners
  • Hire a professional if you need one

    Determine if you need to survey the land.

    . Preventing disputes over property lines is the main goal of a property survey. Without your knowledge, a neighbor’s fence or structures could be on your land, or vice versa. Prior to the sale of a property, the start of a building or fence project, or when a property is being subdivided for sale, surveys are frequently carried out. A property survey essentially allows you to determine the precise boundary between your property and the one next to it.

    Understand that existing boundaries may not be accurate

    It is possible that a property’s current limits are not its true, legal bounds in many situations, particularly for rural estates. Your land may be divided between you and your neighbor by a fence or a natural boundary, such as a ditch or creek. Your deed, however, can stipulate a different line that must be followed when establishing the precise boundaries of properties.

    Decide to survey the land yourself.

    If you decide to have your land professionally surveyed, plan to pay between $350 and $500, if not more, as it is a relatively tough and time-consuming operation. You can survey the land yourself if you don’t want to pay for it. But be aware that you won’t get the same advantages from doing so as you would from a professional survey.

    Gather your tools.

    You’ll need a way to effectively gauge your progress and make sure you are accurately following the heading to the next marker. For this, the majority of surveyors opt to utilize a compass and a very long tape measure. Moreover, be sure to bring your documentation and maps with you. Bring a way to mark your property, such colorful flags or poles, to finish off.

    Locate a known corner.

    You’ll need a starting location in order to begin. Legal descriptions typically include a measurement starting point, which might be anything. It might specify “50 feet SW of the road,” for instance, or it might begin at a tree or rock formation. You can find this point on your land by looking for a marker in the area mentioned. As an alternative, you can find a starting corner using the PLSS coordinates and maps.

    Start at the known corner.

    Go out to the property with your supplies and copies of your maps. Look for a property marking on the corner you located through your investigation. Mark the corner yourself to the best of your ability using the knowledge you have if there isn’t an existing marker.

    Use your compass to identify the location of the next corner

    As you move your compass to determine the bearing to the following marker, start at your corner. Place your tape measure at the first corner and begin to move while keeping your bearing on the compass. To ensure that you are continuing in the right path, it could be helpful to locate a landmark in that area first. Be aware that the distance being measured has nothing to do with the geography of the land.

    Mark the corner when you’ve reached it

    Look for the aforementioned marker when you believe you have arrived at the following corner. If you can’t locate it, it might be hidden or gone altogether. To determine whether it is intended to be a metal rod or spike, try utilizing a metal detector. By holding your compass extremely closely to the ground close to where you believe a metal marker might be, you can also use it as a metal detector. You’ve found something metallic underground that might be your marker when it spins and points downward toward the ground.

    Repeat for the other corners

    Your newfound corner should be noted. If you were unable to locate an existing marker, approximate it. Repeat the same for the other property corners, being sure to mark each corner as you go. Another option is to consistently indicate the property border as you move along. If necessary, you can use this to retrace your steps in the future. After going through this procedure, you should return to your starting place having left a fully demarcated area of land in your wake. If not, you’ll need to go back and figure out what went wrong.

    Hire a professional if you need one

    Although it may be more affordable, conducting a property survey on your own could lead you into trouble. If you’re even slightly off and construct something on a nearby property, your neighbor may sue you, which may cost you thousands of dollars. When deciding against spending a few hundred dollars to have your land properly surveyed, think about the expenses of making a mistake.

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What is surveying equipment?

A land surveyor takes exact measurements of the earth’s surface using instruments. Surveyors need specific tools to complete their work effectively, from establishing property lines to setting up construction sites.

Below is the list of equipment for surveying

  • Compasses and Clinometers
  • Chains and Tapes
  • Levels
  • Transits and Theodolites
  • Magnetic Locators
  • Prisms and Reflectors
  • Safety Gear
  • Poles, Tripods, and Mounts

Compasses and Clinometers

Compasses and Clinometers

When surveying uncharted terrain, the backwoods, or even merely locating your position on a map, a compass is a necessary piece of equipment. While clinometers are intended to measure the angle or elevation of slopes, compasses can be used to determine the distance between two places.

Chains and Tapes

Chains and Tapes

One of the most critical jobs a land surveyor must do is taking precise measurements. Measurement can be done with a variety of tools, including chains, tape measures, rulers, and laser measuring equipment. While measuring wheels, nylon-coated steel tapes (Nyclad tapes), and fiberglass tape measures can be used for longer distances, pocket tapes are best for small-scale measurements.




To read an elevation and calculate elevation differences between two sites, use a level. These instruments, which can be portable, optical, or digital, are frequently used with tripods or leveling rods.

Transits and Theodolites

Transits and Theodolites

Both horizontal and vertical angles are measured with the use of these instruments. Although the theodolite is typically regarded as the more accurate of the two, measuring angles to an accuracy of one-tenth of a second angle, both tools have a minimum precision of one minute of angle.

Magnetic Locators

Magnetic Locators

The location of specific elements, such as manhole and utility covers, steel and iron pipes, underground tanks, and survey corner markers, must be noted when conducting a land survey. Iron, steel, and rebar are examples of ferrous materials that may be quickly and precisely located with magnetic locators.

Prisms and Reflectors

Prisms and Reflectors

Control points are secured with prism systems at a convenient and reachable height for pinpoint accuracy. For greater accuracy, these tools can be used in conjunction with electronic distance measurement (EDM) sensors and installed on surveying poles.

Safety Gear

Safety Gear

Although working in a variety of environments and climates, land surveyors always prioritize safety. For all outdoor work groups, high-visibility clothing and safety headgear are necessities.

Poles, Tripods, and Mounts

Poles, Tripods, and Mounts

An unsteady mount has the potential to destabilize even the most accurate surveying equipment. Surveyors need poles, tripods, and other mounting devices to provide accurate, stable readings. Prisms, lasers, and levels can all be mounted on these supports for use with various surveying tools.

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How is surveying related to civil engineering?

Below are the areas that show the relationship between surveying and civil engineering

  • Inspect High-Risk Areas Such as Bridges and Other Infrastructure
  • Resolve Legal Issues Between Private and Public Property
  • Collect Accurate Data for Proposals

Inspect High-Risk Areas Such as Bridges and Other Infrastructure

Drones allow for completing bridge surveys and other high-risk surveys without putting personnel at risk. As drones can access places that humans cannot easily (or safely) access, a drone bridge inspection is inherently less risky than a traditional assessment. Drones can effortlessly navigate around a bridge or other complicated infrastructure, enabling them to conduct more thorough examinations and raising the bridge’s overall safety.

There are many broken bridges in the United States, but this is not just a bridge problem. Because they aren’t regularly inspected, canals, dams, and other civil infrastructure may be in danger of disintegrating. Dams are one example of a similar type of infrastructure that is difficult to check and hence may have problems that need to be fixed but have not yet been identified.

Drones can hover and fly very near the ground, allowing them to explore places that are otherwise unreachable. And all of this increases the likelihood that projects will be finished safely.

Resolve Legal Issues Between Private and Public Property

Property disputes can escalate quickly. There may frequently be problems involving public property and private ownership when civil engineering projects are started. To determine whose land is being developed, boundary surveys can be required. The information from drones can be used to help identify the boundary between private and public areas. This can stop the use of the eminent domain as well as expensive acquisitions.

While they may not be able to fly as quickly as planes, drones are now the fastest and safest option to do a routine land survey. They can typically deploy much more quickly than planes. This prevents delays in critical public works concerns, addresses legal issues before they become significant problems, and gives the public the reassurance that only public land is being developed.

Civil engineering and surveying are closely related fields, and drone technology has several applications for civil engineers. Regardless of whether the project is public or private, it’s crucial to carefully scan and survey the area in which it will be built. For many kinds of engineering tasks, UAV technology may generate highly accurate, economically advantageous surveys when paired with other technologies like LiDAR scanning.

Collect Accurate Data for Proposals

Accurate surveys can assist in completing engineering proposals. In general, public works require public approval, either through direct voting or by electing legislators who are interested in completing particular projects. Also, the public may oppose any modifications that could be extremely risky.

A project’s future depends on gathering correct data. The correct drone surveys can enable the creation of 3D simulations. For instance, a new road may affect water flow or may result in erosion problems for the area.

Legislators will be better able to present their cases to the public once reliable drone surveys have been carried out. Also, the general public will be able to make more informed selections. Legislators would want to know if a project is harmful before they endorse it, which is another possibility suggested by data collected for a proposal.

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What are courses related to surveying?

The following are courses related to surveying

Survey FAQs

What are the 3 types of surveying?

  • Explanatory
  • Descriptive
  • casual

What is the full meaning of surveying?

measurement of distances, angles, and heights on the land surface for the purpose of precisely plotting them on a map. 2. marking the locations of proposed construction or engineering operations on the ground

What are 2 types of surveying?

  • Plane Surveying.
  • Geodetic or Trigonometrical Surveying.

What are the four types of surveying?

  • Land surveying (also known as Cadastral Surveying)
  • Engineering surveying.
  • Mining surveying.
  • Hydrographic (Bathymetric) surveying.
  • Geodetic surveying.
  • Aerial (Photogrammetry and remote sensing)
  • Topographic (Detail/Tachymetry)
  • Who measures land?

  • A surveyor is a person who calculates or measures a piece of land’s dimensions. Surveyors are crucial while planning new structures and assisting in the creation of maps. Surveying is the process of calculating a land’s dimensions, such as its area and altitude.s.

What are 4 surveying instruments?

Theodolites, measuring tapes, total stations, 3D scanners, GPS/GNSS, levels, and rods are the principal surveying tools in use worldwide.

What are 5 surveying instruments?

  • Theodolites
    measuring tapes,
    total stations
    3D scanners
    , When in operation, the majority of survey devices screw onto a tripod. Smaller distances are frequently measured with analog or digital tape measures.

What is theodolite surveying?

theodolite, a fundamental surveying tool that dates back to English mathematician Leonard Digges in the 16th century but whose exact origins are uncertain. It comprises a telescope placed such that it may pivot both horizontally and vertically in its present configuration.

That’s all for this article, I hope it was helpful