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Topographic Survey Reports: How Important Are They

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Civil Engineering Companies In Dubai

On previous occasions, we have talked about the importance of choosing a plot correctly. Here are a few things we should think about before building the house. Out of several factors, the topographic survey report is the initial work. That we carry out for Civil Engineering Companies In Dubai. Although there are many people who assume. That we can build any house on any plot. But, the reality is very different.

What Should You Consider to Choose a Plot?

The plot we buy will have a significant influence on the design of the house. From the type of land, to the size, the slope, and the boundaries. Passing through the presence of trees and rocks, and without forgetting the urban regulations and orientation.

There are many intrinsic factors of a plot that will affect the future building. Therefore, the first thing we must do once we have bought a plot is to get to know it thoroughly, for which we need the help of three technicians: the geologist, the topographer, and the architect.


They carry out the geotechnical study of the plot that gives us information about the composition of the land. We will see it more carefully in another post.


They carry out the topographical study or report of the plot that provides us with data on morphology, heights, slopes, and the location of important elements. Let’s take a closer look at what this study consists of.


We are in charge of studying and analyzing the work of the geologist and the topographer, which, together with other data such as the climate and applicable regulations, will give us the perfect basis to start working on the project.

What Is the Topographic Survey/Report?

The topographic study consists of carrying out the precise measurement of a plot, obtaining its real surface. Delimiting its exact location and pointing out the position of many other elements. Such as trees, rocks, poles, connections, etc.

Once we make this measurement. The topographer performs the topographic survey. Which is the flat representation (both 2D and 3D) of all the data obtained on the plot. Finally, all the coordinate data taken on the ground together with the resulting plans make up the topographic report.

Civil Engineering Companies In Dubai

Civil Engineering Companies In Dubai

How Do You Measure the Plot?

This is the point why the surveyor is so important. And it is also the reason we architects cannot correctly measure a plot. As many people expect. The surveyor uses GPS equipment linked through antennas or stations to the coordinates.

Which is the geodetic reference system established as mandatory for a few years. This means that, regardless of the surveyor you hire, whatever GPS system they use, you will always get the same coordinates.

Measurement of a plot in Manzanares El Real using Trimble R6 GPS equipment linked to the reference antenna of the National Geographic Institute.

Thanks to these high-precision devices and the common coordinate system, we can obtain real and reliable measurements of our plot. Trying to get such a precise measurement with a tape measure or a laser meter is completely impossible.

What Does a Topographic Survey Include?

The topographer, apart from giving us a report explaining what he has done and the coordinates he has obtained, will always give us a topographic map, which is, without a doubt, the most relevant part of the report.

This plan usually contains the following information:

  •         Total area of ​​the plot.
  •         Total perimeter of the plot.
  •         Exact length of each boundary.
  •         Levels above sea level.
  •         Level curves. Usually, every 20 cm.
  •         Measurements of the sidewalk and street that give access to the plot.
  •         Wall and perimeter fences with their thickness.

Position of trees, large rocks, electricity poles, lampposts, sewers, installation registers, sinks and electricity, water, and gas connections. Or any other element that we want to mark.

All this indicates in a plan that they give us in pdf and dwg, the latter being the one that architects use to work.

Although the report usually consists mainly of the map and the georeferenced coordinates, there are topographers who include other useful services in their fees, such as aerial photographs taken with a drone or 3D scanners.

Why Should I Do Topographic Study?

First of all, thanks to this study, the architect you entrusted with the project of your house will have a reliable base on which to work. In this way, you ensure that there will be no surprises with the plot once the works begin. But other than that, topographic survey is useful for the following:

Real Surface of Your Plot

Know the real surface of your plot. This is one of the main reasons why, in the end, almost everyone chooses to carry out this study. Although when buying a piece of land, they tell you that it has as many square meters, as indicated in the registry or cadaster.

It is very possible that when carrying out the topography, those meters vary. And, because the maximum buildable housing surface depends on the size of the plot, this information is extremely important.

Marks The Boundaries with Total Precision

Save yourself problems with your future neighbors. If you don’t want to have problems with your neighbors deciding where your plot begins. And where theirs ends, the surveyor is the best solution.

Since he marks the boundaries. Both towards the neighbors and towards the street, with total precision. This also helps us to better mark the setbacks indicated by the regulations and, therefore, the position of the house on the plot.

Determine The Depth to Foundation

Achieve the best views and better control the necessary earthworks. Thanks to the plane with contour lines that the topographer gives us. We, the architects, can know the real relief of the plot.

Which allows us to more accurately determine the depth to which it is necessary to dig to make the foundation or a possible basement and, also, it allows us to search for the points of the plot more easily with the best views.

Electricity, Water, And Sewage Connections

Have a more realistic construction budget. To connect the houses, at least, to electricity, water, and sewage (unless they are self-sufficient houses). To make these connections, it is necessary to provide a few meters of pipes and cables, which, of course, have a cost.

By knowing the correct distance to the connections and street registers we can get much more real figures than if we estimated it. On flat plots, taking these measurements is feasible without a surveyor, but as soon as there are slopes it becomes almost impossible.

Civil Engineering Companies In Dubai

Civil Engineering Companies In Dubai

Is It Mandatory to Do This Study?

The short answer is no. It does not require surveying by law to build a home. And for that reason, many people try to save it. But we have already seen the multiple reasons. Why we should not ignore this study in any case.

If what worries you is the cost, keep in mind that these studies are the cheapest part of almost the entire process of building a house and that it is money well spent. Normally, in plots of between 500 and 2,000 m2.

We will see reasonable prices for the preparation of the topographical study. The cost will depend a lot on the size and complexity of the plot.


Although having a surveyor to build a house or any other building is not mandatory, it is highly recommended. The topographic study provides us with a multitude of important data on the plot that we architects need to be able to correctly prepare a project.

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