While you may have heard of the term ‘topographical survey’ being batted around during a project, you might be looking to do some of your own research. Here’s our ‘Ultimate Guide to Topographical Surveys’ which should help answer any questions you may have. 

Let’s start at the beginning.

What is a topographical survey?

Simply put, it is a detailed survey of an area of land that shows its physical features, such as hills, valleys, rivers, and roads. It is used to create a 2D or 3D map of the land, which can be used for a variety of purposes, such as planning construction projects, designing landscapes, or creating marketing materials.

Unsurprisingly, 2D or 3D maps are essential tools for core team members such as project managers. The maps will be fed into BIM in construction which stands for Building Information Modelling. 

Project managers use the maps critically to plan the project, communicate with the team, track the progress of the project and document the project for directors and stakeholders alike. 

You can see why choosing a highly experienced professional from the get-go can save thousands of pounds as well as time.

surveyor using equipment

What is included in a topographical survey?

Typically, there are four stages of the topographical survey. However, within these stages are varying degrees of complex data acquisition and evaluation from the surveyor and client. A topographical survey typically includes the following:

  • Surveying Equipment: A variety of surveying equipment is used to collect data for a topographical survey, such as a total station, a theodolite, and a level. (but we’ll talk more about this further down).
  • Data collection: The surveyor will use the surveying equipment to collect data on the physical features of the land, such as its elevation, slope, and vegetation.
  • Data processing: The surveyor will use software to process the data collected from the field and create a 2D or 3D map of the land.
  • Report: The surveyor will create a report that summarises the findings of the survey and includes the 2D or 3D map which feeds into BIM.

What does a topographical survey show?

No two surveys are the same. The type of information that is included in a topographical survey will vary depending on the purpose of the survey. However, all topographical surveys will typically include the following information:

  • The location of the survey area
  • The elevation of the land
  • The slope of the land
  • The location of natural features, such as rivers, lakes, and trees
  • The location of man-made features, such as buildings, roads, and bridges

You can see how this information would certainly help inform progress and adjustments to planning cross-departmentally. 

close up shot of surveying equipment

What are the benefits of a topographical survey?

While you’d think it’s only the construction sector who take advantage of this detailed survey, there are other uses for its purpose too. 

Obviously, topographic surveys can be used to plan construction projects. But you might be surprised to know that design and marketing are often the other two main users of a topographic survey. Let’s take a look at why: 

Designing landscapes: Can be used to design landscapes by providing information on the physical features of the land, such as its elevation, slope, and vegetation. This information can help to create a landscape that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

Creating marketing materials: A topographical survey can be used to create marketing materials, such as brochures and websites, by providing information on the physical features of the land. This information can help to attract potential customers and investors.

Which sectors use topographical surveys?

Topographical surveys are used by a variety of sectors, including:

  • Construction: Construction companies use topographical surveys to plan and design construction projects.
  • Engineering: Engineers use topographical surveys to design roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
  • Architects: Architects use topographical surveys to design buildings and landscapes.
  • Landscape Designers use topographical surveys to design garden layouts.
  • Real estate: Real estate agents use topographical surveys to assess the value of properties.
  • Government agencies: Government agencies use topographical surveys to plan land use and development.

How much does a topographical survey cost?

Unsurprisingly, this is a complex question due to varying factors. The cost of a topographical survey varies depending on the size of the area being surveyed, the complexity of the survey, and the experience of the surveyor. In general, a topographical survey can cost anywhere from £1,000 to £10,000.

How long does a topographical survey take?

The time it takes to complete a topographical survey depends on the size of the area being surveyed, the complexity of the survey, and the availability of the surveyor. In general, a topographical survey can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks.

What is used to measure a topographical survey?

There are a variety of surveying equipment that can be used for a topographical survey. Some of the most common types of equipment include:

  • Total stations: A total station is a surveying instrument that combines the functions of a theodolite and an electronic distance meter. It can be used to measure angles and distances and to create 3D models of the land.
  • Levels: A level is a surveying instrument that is used to measure the elevation of the land. It can be used to create 2D maps of the land, and to ensure that the land is level.
  • GPS receivers: GPS receivers can be used to collect data on the location of points on the land and instantly relate the position to the National Grid coordinate system. This data can be used to create 2D or 3D maps of the land.
  • Laser scanners: Laser scanners can be used to create 3D models of the land. This data can be used for a variety of purposes, such as creating virtual reality models of the land or for collision avoidance systems.

The type of equipment that is used for a topographical survey will vary depending on the size and complexity of the area being surveyed, as well as the experience of the surveyor.

What would affect the production of the topographical survey?

A variety of factors can affect the production of a topographical survey, including:

  • The accuracy of the surveying equipment: The accuracy of the surveying equipment used to create the survey will affect the accuracy of the survey.
  • The skill of the surveyor: The skill of the surveyor will affect the accuracy of the survey.
  • The weather conditions: The weather conditions can affect the accuracy of the survey. For example, if it is raining or snowing, the surveyor may not be able to locate all the necessary features of the site.
  • The topography of the land: The topography of the land can affect the accuracy of the survey. For example, if the land is very hilly, the surveyor may not be able to get an accurate reading of the land.

It is important to be aware of these factors when interpreting a topographical survey. If you are unsure about the accuracy of a survey, it is best to consult with a qualified surveyor. If you’d like to explore our range of services at Midland Survey, get in contact today. Our highly experienced team are happy to guide you through our processes and service to accommodate the right survey for your project.

You’ve probably seen and heard that sustainability in construction is becoming increasingly important. As the world looks to reduce its carbon footprint and mitigate the effects of climate change, you might be wondering ‘how can a survey make my build more sustainable.’

Construction companies have a major role to play in this effort, and one way they can make their builds more sustainable is by conducting an ecological survey.

construction workers looking over plans

What is an ecological survey?

An ecological survey is an assessment of the environmental impact of a proposed construction project. 

The survey will identify any potential risks to wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems in the area where the build will take place. It will also identify opportunities to enhance biodiversity and promote sustainable practices.

Benefits of an ecological survey

There are many benefits to conducting an ecological survey, including:

  • Identifying risks and opportunities: The survey will help construction companies to identify potential risks and opportunities associated with the build, such as the impact on local habitats and wildlife, and opportunities to incorporate sustainable practices.
  • Compliance: An ecological survey is often a requirement for obtaining planning permission for a construction project. Conducting a survey demonstrates a commitment to compliance with environmental regulations and standards.
  • Reputation: Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important factor in the construction industry. Conducting an ecological survey and incorporating sustainable practices into a build can enhance a construction company’s reputation and demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship.

How to conduct an ecological survey

Unsurprisingly, conducting an ecological survey is an important process in understanding the health and status of the environment. If you’re planning on conducting an ecological survey, there are several steps you should follow to ensure that the survey is accurate and informative.

First, you need to determine the scope of your survey. This includes identifying the area that you want to survey and the species that you want to study. Once you have determined the scope of your survey, you need to select the appropriate survey techniques. These techniques will depend on the species that you are studying and the environment in which you are conducting the survey.

How can a survey make a build more sustainable? 

When conducting the survey, it is important to record all of your observations and data accurately. This can be done using a variety of tools, such as field notebooks, cameras, and GPS devices. After you have collected your data, you should analyse it to identify any patterns or trends.

Get in touch with Midlands Survey today 

Encouragingly, our surveys at Midland Surveys can identify areas where your building can be improved to reduce its impact on the environment. By implementing the recommended changes, you can reduce energy consumption, lower emissions, and save money on bills.

Get in touch with our highly experienced team today and explore your survey options. We are happy to answer any of your questions. 

Your project’s as-built survey is one of the most instrumental reports to a successful build. Making sure you hand over the exact dimensions of the space allows you to have clarity of the entire project.

Understanding what an as built survey is will also help inform you of what an as built survey actually looks like.

surveyor with surveying kit measuring the landscape

What is an as built survey?

An as built survey takes precise measurements inside and outside of your structures and creates a ‘blueprint’ or ‘map’ of the whole project site.

In addition, cross departmental information on works carried out feeds into this picture of the site as whole. 

For example, the electrical department will be using the as built survey throughout the project to grasp any clash detection that may occur.

Being able to see the (for example) design drawings layered on top of the steel works drawings gives cross department visibility and allows the entire team on the project to forecast and avoid issues.

 

project manager on site with client

What does an as-built survey look like?

The survey itself might look quite dense. However, it is cleverly broken down into departmental asset codes. The codes which refer to each item on the survey so you’re able to review each item with ease and with a methodical approach. 

Can BIM be used as an as-built model?

Yes. You can use the project’s BIM (building information modelling) as an as-built model to help showcase information. It’s common practice to extract 2D information from BIM. The 2D information to use this as the core reference for the health and safety file at the end of the project. 

What is the health and safety file? 

Obviously, no project will be complete without handing over the health and safety file which must include the as-built survey. The survey will give the property management, client and stakeholder clarity of any correctional works. They’ll also be able to view adjustments that have been made over the project. 

With stringent health and safety regulations, you can see why the survey is of utmost importance to complying with the UK construction standard. It’s very useful for everyone to understand the shape of the project when it is handed over.  

What are the benefits of an as-built survey?

  • Allows project managers and the project team to have clarity on cross departmental work
  • Allows contractors and project managers to plan and aid early clash detection 
  • Allows stakeholders and project clients to understand the progression of the project
  • Gives a clear footprint of the build when handed over to the client 
  • Helps smooth out any cross departmental issues more efficiently
project manager on site with client

When is an as-built survey carried out?

Your survey will be carried out at various key stages of the project. As contractors add their element of the build in, you’ll need your survey updated. With as-built surveys being taken to record variations on the original engineering plans, you’ll be able to prove and record if the project is aligning with the proposed site plans. 

At Midland Survey we’ll be with your project at every stage of its development. We’ll provide you with a rendering that promotes transparency between all project stakeholders. Get in touch today and let us help you start your project on the right footing. 

Any site that you’re about to develop on will almost certainly need an ecological survey. The ecology survey is designed to highlight the level of impact projects are going to have on the biodiversity of the site they are situated on.

Developers need to be made aware of any ecological issues or constraints during the pre start phase of the project and will have to put measures in place to minimise impact on the natural environment. 

The ecology survey process will begin long before planning permission is granted. This is simply due to the fact that if evidence of impact is found, a BAP (biodiversity action plan) will be drawn up. The BAP will be added to the proposed planning permission to prove that your project is taking appropriate action to protect the environment and the species living within it. 

Different stages of the ecological survey

The different stages of the survey will take place before, during and after your project to monitor what action needs to be done and if it is in fact being carried out effectively.  

You’ll want to align your project with a trusted and experienced surveyor from the get-go to lower any contingency spends on biodiversity fixes. Midland Survey will guide you through your survey from start to finish with clarity and precision. Get in touch for a quote today.  

Starting with the preliminary ecological appraisal 

The first survey carried out is called the Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA). It can also be known as Phase 1 Habitat Survey. This is a ‘rapid survey, an initial desktop survey as well as a walkover survey. 

The survey is designed to pinpoint any ecological constraints at the start of the project. As well as identifying the negative impact of the project, the survey is used to identify new opportunities for wildlife and habitats on the site. 

A badger moving through long grass.

What species does the ecology survey take into consideration?

Flora and fauna in general but more specifically;

  • Bats
  • Badgers
  • Birds
  • Otters
  • Bees
  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Flowers
  • Newts
  • Deer
  • Freshwater fish 

Bearing in mind the results of your survey will prioritise the most endangered species to be protected and restored in your project’s BAP first. You can see the full list of protected and searched for species here.

Next is the ecological impact assessment

This assessment also known as the EcIA is the second stage of the ecology survey. In this detailed report, the surveyor is able to identify the potential impact of the project on species habitat based on the data findings from the preliminary appraisal. The ecology report will be presented alongside the planning permission when it is time to submit.  

With this in mind, you can see why it is essential to have a comprehensive report drawn up to aid your success with planning permission.

Types of project that require an ecological survey 

Here are some of the types of projects that would require a thorough ecological survey.

  • A small/domestic residential domestic 
  • A new build or refurb project 
  • A commercial site
  • An addition to an existing development
Industrial looking building on the waterside.

What happens if you don’t carry out ecological surveys?

Legal proceedings 

It is punishable by law if you do not carry out an ecological survey on your project. You must show willingness to protect and restore the habitats your project imposes a threat to.

Costly setbacks during a project build 

By choosing a highly experienced surveyor you safeguard your project against any major setbacks in the planning process. Working with an expert service like Midland Survey will ensure your time frames are kept from the outset.

Irreversible damage to an existing ecosystem 

Habitats and species could be further threatened and endangered without the precision of the ecological survey. Furthermore, your stakeholders and investor reputation stand to take a hit if this survey is overlooked which will affect future projects and your reputation in the industry. 

BREEAM assessments 

Building research establishment environmental assessment method assessments require an ecologist to produce a calculation of the change in the ecological value of a site or project. It also determines how to enhance the site’s value. This is incredibly attractive to investors and stakeholders alike. 

Government’s biodiversity bill 

Under the Environment Bill the biodiversity value of a development must exceed the pre-development biodiversity value of the onsite habitat by at least 10%.  Whether you’re looking at a project pre start or pre completion, the emphasis on boosting the biodiversity of the project is imperative. 

Get in touch with our highly skilled team at Midland Survey and explore our services in ecological surveys. We offer a variety of ecological surveys, designed to accurately identify the species that call your site home. Contact us for a quick quote today.

If you own land you have earmarked for development, you should be wary that architects, designers or engineers may ask for a comprehensive overview of what the land in question looks like before agreeing to help you with this project.

A conventional map might not quite capture enough of the site’s intricacies for the professionals’ liking. So, it would be beneficial for you to arrange a topographical survey that takes in both natural and man-made features of the land.

However, since conducting a topo survey is a specialist service requiring the right equipment, you may be wondering: “How much does a topographical survey cost?”

What is a topographical survey?

With a topo survey, a given land area’s physical features are measured and represented on a detailed visual plan. This plan displays the site’s boundaries as well as any fences, kerbs, trees, vegetation and contours.
After carrying out measurements at the site, surveyors will draw up the plan. The topographical surveyors here at Midland Survey then provide the client with the finished plan in CAD and PDF formats.

Could you simply opt to forgo a topo survey?

That would certainly be one way for you to chop the topographical survey cost off your list of looming outgoings. Technically, a landowner could oversee a project that never throws up any nasty surprises.

However, the more sophisticated and extensive the project, the larger the risk the landowner takes by deciding against a topo survey. If you are struggling to judge the balance of risk in your case, this article about topo surveys could help.

Skipping a topographical survey can prove a false economy  

As we have established, a topo survey is not always a cast-iron requirement. A project as basic as assembling a shed may not warrant a topo survey. Besides, a similar kind of assessment might have recently been conducted on the site to include the data you need.

In practice, development work done without a topographical survey can encounter issues that a survey could have prevented or mitigated. Hence, a topo survey’s upfront cost can be more than made up for later down the line.

How much is a topographical survey usually?

Typically, a UK land surveying company will charge between £300 and £1,000 per day, and £300 and £600 for topographical drawings.

As the majority of sites we survey are residential, offices or small lots of land, Midland Survey’s topographical surveyors usually only need a day to inspect a client’s land and then one additional day to complete the drawings.

What if your topo survey needs aren’t ‘typical’?

This could be your situation if, say, the land area you require the survey for is significantly larger than the examples above. Alternatively, the site could be heavily textured in its features, making it trickier for members of our team to record.

Either of these scenarios would likely add to the typographical survey cost. Also, the higher the level of detail you demand, the higher the resulting cost can be.

Is there anything you can do to cut this cost?

You might be overestimating how much of the land actually needs surveying, at least in a high level of detail. So, using a tool like Google Earth, you could produce a satellite image indicating what should be prioritised for surveying.

You could then attach this image to an application you send us when seeking a quote for a topographical survey. Just hit the link to access our Quick Quote online form and clarify what you need from a topo survey. 

What else could you do to prepare the land?

Generally, a flat, open space is easier — and less expensive — to survey than land with large amounts of varied foliage. Therefore, if your own site is more like the latter, you could — before booking a topo survey — investigate potentially reducing this greenery.

Once you have done everything possible and left the site visibly open, taking photos is wise so that you can clearly show what our surveyors will be working with. This insight will feed into the quote that we offer you.

Contact us for more details about topo survey pricing 

When looking for a topographical surveying service that satisfies your needs, you should not be driven by price alone. Through incorporating traditional methods with high-end tech, our topo surveyors achieve precise results.
Nonetheless, by factoring in the size and nature of the land you intend to develop, you can easily budget for a topo survey. You can also contact our topo surveyors directly for tailored advice.