Home » News and Articles » Understanding the Different Types of Land Surveys

Understanding the Different Types of Land Surveys

Ordering the right survey for your project is very important. There are several different types of land surveys. Determining what kind of survey you need can sometimes be a bit confusing. Viox & Viox can help you assess your needs and pick the survey that best fits what you’re looking for. A land survey can make all the difference when you are dealing with a property investment. It is essential to have all the necessary information about your property. Making decisions about a piece of property without all the relevant information will likely result in a bad investment. Today, we will cover what land surveying is and the most commonly used types of surveys.

What is a Land Survey

So what is a land survey? In its most basic terms, it’s a graphic layout of a property. It is a precise measurement and mapping process used to determine the boundaries, dimensions, and features of a specific parcel of land. It involves the use of specialized equipment and techniques to accurately assess and document the physical characteristics and legal boundaries of a property. Land surveys are essential for various applications, including property transactions, construction projects, land development, and resolving boundary disputes. By providing detailed and accurate information, land surveys help ensure that land use and development are conducted legally and efficiently, preventing conflicts and facilitating informed decision-making by property owners, developers, engineers, and government authorities.

Types of Land Surveys

Boundary Survey

A standard boundary survey is one of the simplest land surveys and also the most common. This type of land survey is used to locate the corners and property boundary lines of a parcel of land. A boundary survey will use both recorded deeds and physical markers to define the boundary lines on a piece of land. It involves fieldwork and record research.  A Professional Surveyor uses the data collected to analyze and locate the boundary lines of a piece of property.  Permanent markers are recovered or placed at property corners.  It’s typically used for personal records or ensuring property improvements occur within their boundary lines.


An ALTA/NSPS land title survey is one of the most detailed types of land surveys. The requirements for an ALTA/NSPS land survey were created through a joint effort between the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). ALTA/NSPS land title surveys are most often conducted when buying and selling real estate. This survey includes information about all the physical features of the property. These surveys will consist of details about boundary lines, location of all buildings, improvments, and identification of any recovered easements on the land. These surveys are often required by both mortgage lenders and title companies when you are taking a variety of actions with your property.

Topographic Survey

The purpose of this survey is to locate both natural and man-made topographic features on a parcel of land. Examples of such features include fences, utilities, buildings, elevations, streams, trees, improvements, and contours. A topographic survey may be required by a state or local government agency or might be used by architects and engineers for planning site improvements and developments. A topographic survey is typically implemented through a combination of aerial photography, aerial LiDAR, and ground field methods.

Construction Survey

This type of survey requires staking out structures located on the property, including walls, buildings, roads, and utilities. Staking provides the construction personnel with directions for executing improvements shown on the development plans. Points are staked out on the property to ensure that the structure does not encroach over designated easements or property lines.  A construction survey may also involve both horizontal and vertical grading. Vertical positions are verified by differences in elevations in comparison to a specific location on the property, which is known as the benchmark. Horizontal positions are determined by distances between structures.

As-built Surveys

As-built surveys are a critical part of the overall construction process. Detailed survey information helps compare what was in the proposed drawings to what was actually constructed in the field, as unknown changes on site are inevitable as construction progresses. Along with traditional field techniques, advanced survey technologies such as drone-captured data help create the as-built set of drawings with as-constructed dimensions, structure locations, materials and setbacks.

Mortgage Survey

Similar to an ALTA survey, a mortgage survey is used when purchasing a home or piece of property. It verifies structures on the property, land and property title owners, and that the property meets building setbacks before the purchase is made.

Site Planning Survey

Often a requirement for development permit applications, a site planning survey combines the elements of boundary and topographic surveys for site planning. This survey is used to plan design improvements and developments before construction begins. Site planning surveys are frequently used for designing house lots, subdivisions, stores, playgrounds, commercial & industrial sites, streets and highways.

Subdivision Survey

A subdivision survey is used to divide a parcel of land into smaller tracts, lots, or estates. This type of survey is also used to design streets and drainages, and it must be recorded by the local government agency. A subdivision survey can help you determine how many parcels can be created from the larger plot of land.

An experienced land surveyor should be able to quickly determine what type of survey is right for you. At Viox & Viox, we have plenty of experience conducting every type of land survey. We use the latest technology to ensure that our surveys are highly detailed and accurate.