What is surveying?


A survey forms the basis for an investment in real estate

It will uncover discrepancies and encroachments if any exist, eliminate future questions as to the location of boundaries, and will be of lasting value to the owner, the developer, and the lender.

Surveyors help cities plan for the future

Surveyors form part of a team that includes engineers, architects and urban planners, all of whom have responsibility for the way the city of the future works. Moreover, their work has implications—and not just for the next few years. The land use patterns laid down today will last for centuries.

Surveyors help make the economy more sustainable

The demarcation of land use and land title is a key issue in the management of land. A robust land administration system is a key issue for both economic development and environmental protection. While the role of the surveyor might change over time, the need for a land information professional in the land ownership, land transfer, and land development process, will always be essential.

Surveyors play a key role in supporting an efficient land market and effective land-use management

These functions underpin development and innovation for social justice, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. No development will take place without having a spatial dimension, and no development will happen without the footprint of surveyors—the land information professionals.

Surveying is more than the field crew you see on the side of the road

Surveying is a vital part of the design and construction process. Surveyors perform boundary surveys to tell people where their property is, map the topography of land for engineering design, establish elevations of building sites for flood insurance, perform title surveys for real estate transactions, certify that structures are built according to design, lay out buildings, condominiums, subdivisions and other construction projects so the construction companies can relate the engineering plans to the real world, and build control networks so that all land parcels can relate to universal positioning system.

Surveyors also map areas for pay volumes or quantities, map river bottoms for dredging, lay out photo control for aerial photography and photogrammetry, write legal descriptions that are used to describe pieces of property, map and layout corridors for tunnels, roads, airports, pipelines, cellular networks and railroads, and split up properties into new lots, such as subdivisions. So, if you see a person on the side of the road looking through an instrument on a tripod, or holding a GPS receiver, chances are that he or she is part of a survey field crew supervised by a professional surveyor. Now you know that they are doing more than taking pictures. Something is about to happen!

Called “Geomatics” in Canada and much of Europe, the scope of surveying is vast

Without this profession, railroads could not be built, skyscrapers could not be erected, and individuals could not put up fences around their yards for fear of trespassing on someone else’s land. Would you like an expressway to be built in your backyard, one you’ve paid for, maintained, and paid taxes on for years, without your permission? Of course, how would you know it was in your backyard without a surveyor to tell you where your property even was? Surveyors also stake out boundaries of roads to be built, monitor skyscrapers to make sure they are being erected vertically, and measure airports so that the runways are perfectly aligned and smooth.

Many properties have considerable problems with regards to improper bounding, miscalculations in past surveys, titles, easements, and other interests in real property. Also many properties are created from multiple divisions of a larger piece over the course of years, and with every additional division the risk of miscalculation increases. The result can be abutting properties not coinciding with adjacent parcels, resulting in gaps and overlaps. Land surveying becomes an art when a surveyor must solve a puzzle using pieces that do not exactly fit together. In these cases, the solution is based upon the surveyor’s experience, research and interpretation of evidence, along with established procedures for resolving discrepancies.