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Need a topographical survey

A Simple Guide to Why You Need a Topographical Survey

Do you need a topographical survey when you’re building a new home? Find out what it is and how it can help you design some of the major features of your dream home.

When your residential designer asks you for a topographical survey of your property, you might think of a regular land survey. This is the map that shows you the boundaries of your land in relation to your neighbor’s and town-owned property. It’s also known as a boundary survey or a plat map.

While that’s an important tool, your residential designer also needs to determine the existing conditions and elevations of your property. 

You can only get that type of information from a topographical survey.

WHAT IS A TOPOGRAPHICAL SURVEY?

A topographical survey (topo for short) is a diagram or a map showing the physical or geographical features of your property and where they are located. These could be natural (e.g. hills, slopes, contours, streams, ponds, trees and other vegetation) and man-made (e.g. fences, roads, buildings and utility lines)

But it’s even more detailed than that: it will document the height, depth and size of each structure, paying special attention to the elevation of each surface.

Think of the boundary survey as a simple map of your property and the topographical survey as a 3-D version.

Need a Topographical Map

WHY DO I NEED ONE?

A topographical survey is required by many local governments and it’s also incredibly helpful when building a new home.

If you have a steep slope in the backyard, your residential designer and home builder can calculate how to position the home to work WITH the property using the information from a topographical survey. They’ll be able to see how your land slopes and where dirt can be removed or added to get the larger backyard you’re dreaming of as well as knowing how deep the footings need to be to hit undisturbed soil.

You also need a topographical survey for identifying possible challenges in the landscape and structures that have to be worked around or removed. For example, if you want to include a basement, the survey will help to determine the best location for the basement entryway.

You can imagine it’s crucial to know all of this before construction even begins!

HOW DOES MY RESIDENTIAL DESIGNER USE THE TOPOGRAPHICAL SURVEY?

The topographical survey is one of several tools a good designer will use to set what we here at Domani Home Design call the “Z positioning” of your home (aka: vertical elevation). 

This information is used together with site visit observations, boundary survey (plat map), and zoning and other municipality-specific information to determine the best X (left to right), Y (forward and back), Z (up and down) AND  the rotational direction for the home (to capture views, access the garage, etc).

Need a topographical survey

HOW CAN I GET A SURVEY COMPLETED?

Check with your realtor, developer, or builder to see if there is already a topo for your property. If none exists, hire a surveyor to do a topo of your property. 

If you are in Cache Valley and would like specific recommendations for topographical surveyors, feel free to contact us for a list!

HOW MUCH DOES A TOPOGRAPHICAL SURVEY COST?

The average survey ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 and this varies, depending on your property size and location.

Overall, you will need a topographical survey for any new home build. And even though it is more expensive than a regular boundary survey, it gives you the opportunity to make significant upgrades or corrections to the landscape for your dream home. 

That, in itself, is priceless!

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