Architectural Surveys




    There are several processes architects go through to obtain information on your property and to have plans approved. One of those processes is architectural surveys. These give architects important data to help them complete a project and work through any complications with a site.




Types Of Surveys

   There is more than one type of architectural survey. While you may not need them all, it is still good to be informed of the different types. 


-Lot Survey

    A lot survey is used to define your property’s boundaries. It completely outlines the site to give the architect and contractors the knowledge needed to know where they can legally build.


-Topographical Survey/Land Survey

    Topographical surveys are mainly concerned with outlining natural and man made features above the earth. For example, this could be buildings, above ground utilities, trees, etc. that may be on the site. This is usually the first step in the construction process. 



-Soils Report

   Soils reports are surveys that test the conditions of the earth. They provide information on the conditions of the site, the soil composition, and the groundwater levels. This helps architects and contractors know what type of foundation to build based on the property's conditions.



-Photometric Survey

     These surveys are topographical surveys that have been taken from an aerial view. Again, this survey is used to outline the ground and any existing features that are on the site.


-Environmental Survey

    Environmental surveys are done on a site that has been affected by hazardous substances. A surveyor may come out and test the soil to obtain data. This survey is also used for flood risk assessments, contaminated land assessments, environmental screening to find hazardous gas, polluted soil, contaminated water, and asbestos.


-Traffic Impact Studies

    This is used to determine the effects new development will have on the transportation network in a community.




Who Performs These Surveys?

     The licensed professionals who perform surveys are called surveyors. Some may have a slightly different title depending on the types of surveys they perform. For example, a person who conducts a topographical survey is called a land surveyor, the person who performs a soils report is a geotechnical engineer, and the person who does an environmental survey is called an environmental engineer. An architect will be able to direct you to each professional you need.



How To Schedule A Survey

   It’s likely your responsibility will be to schedule any surveys that are needed. An architect can guide you in the right direction.

The steps are as follows:


-Determine What Survey You Need

     The architect and city officials who are working on your project will be able to help you determine which survey may be needed.

-Assess Survey Firms

    There are multiple survey firms out there. It is a good idea to review several and get a couple cost estimates before making a decision. Your architect should be able to give you recommendations if you are having trouble finding a good firm.


-Decide On A Surveyor

   After reviewing several firms you should be able to find a surveyor that works best with your budget. Once selected, you can schedule a time for the surveyor to come to the site and conduct the survey. A retainer fee is sent back with the survey contract.


    When the survey is completed, a signed certificate of completion should be given to you.




    It is important to have your property surveyed when required. It could prevent any potential complications with the site later on.  It will also help your architect and contractors know the best way to build your project with the given information.