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The Most Common Types of Land Surveys & Tools Used For Each

The Most Common Types of Land Surveys & Tools Used For Each

Published by Michael Martin on Sep 22nd 2021

Land surveys are most commonly used in the construction industry, but did you know that there are different types of surveys? Each type of land survey has its own purpose and utilizes different tools for the job. While there are more types of land surveys than the ones listed below, these are just some of the most common land surveys surveyors conduct:


These surveys are typically conducted for use in buying and selling real estate/commercial properties. ALTA/ACSM stands for American Land Title Association / American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. These are the most detailed types of land surveys and include all the features and characteristics of a given property.

Recommended Tools:

Topcon TP-15 Heavy Duty Wood/Fiberglass Tripod - A heavy-duty wood/fiberglass tripod that has an adjustable height of 38” to 63” and a quick-clamp locking mechanism.

Topcon ES Series Total Station - Reflectorless total station with up to 4,000m prism range and a beam width of 15mm.

Boundary Survey

Boundary surveys are used to determine property lines. This requires the surveyor to conduct both record and field research. Surveyors look at the history of the property and find the deeds and paperwork associated with the property before conducting a field survey. In the field, the surveyor marks the corners of the property and then is able to produce a map of the property for the owner.

Recommended Tools:

Roll Flagging - Easily mark off your stakes with flagging so they are easily spottable

Mag Nails - Mark corner property lines so you can mark them as a critical point

Construction Survey

Construction surveys are a vital part in the construction process. Mapping out and setting stakes for the site provides construction workers with a visual of where buildings, walls, roads, utilities, and more are going to be on the site. Surveyors use the engineer's plans to set the stakes where they should be. There may also be grading required in addition to the as-built survey.

Recommended Tools:

Topcon RL-H5A - This horizontal self-leveling rotary laser has a 2,600 ft range and 1/16” accuracy at 100 ft. It’s IP66 rating can withstand the toughest job site conditions and has a 100 hour battery life.

SiteMAX Ballistic 24" Stake Bag - Store all your stakes and other field supplies in a highly durable, waterproof SiteMAX ballistic bag.

Location Survey

Location surveys are similar to boundary surveys but provide additional information on improvements/additions made to the property. These surveys are used to ensure all zoning laws and property boundaries were adhered to.

Recommended Tools:

Safety Vests - Safety is always a crucial part of the job. Choose between a variety of highly visible safety vests with lots of pockets and breathable material.

Maggie Magnetic Locator - The Maggie locator from Schonstedt is perfect for locating manholes and utility lines underground. It is built for rough weather conditions and has a 7 year warranty.

Subdivision Survey

Subdivision surveys are used to divide a piece of land into smaller subdivisions or lots. This type of survey can also be used to design streets as well. Also known as a partition survey, local or state governments are required to record this survey.

Recommended Tools:

Topcon AT-B2 Auto Level - Topcon’s AT-B2 Series of auto levels are perfect for high precision and work well even when near heavy equipment or busy roadways

Elevator Composite Tripod - This tripod is heavy duty with a dual clamp design for extra stability. Has an extended height of 12ft 8in.

Topographic Survey

Topographic surveys are used to identify and map contours of the ground and existing features on the site such as trees, elevations, streams, and more. These surveys are typically used by architects and engineers for site planning and development. Drones are commonly utilized to capture aerial images of the site in this type of survey.

Recommended Tools:

Phantom 4 RTK - The drone built for surveyors, the DJI Phantom 4 RTK allows surveyors to get centimeter accurate data while requiring fewer ground control points.

ZEB Series - GeoSLAM’s ZEB Series allows the user to utilize handheld LiDAR scanning to generate pointclouds and have a 3D scan of the layout with a 1:2 scan to process ratio.

Site Planning Survey

Site planning surveys are often required to get permits for a new site development. This type of survey is a combination of boundary and topographic surveys and is used to plan design improvements/developments before you begin construction. Oftentimes they are used for housing lots, subdivisions, commercial sites, and highways.

Recommended Tools:

Pocket Tape Measures - Having a high-quality tape measure is essential when site planning in order to have accurate measurements.

FC-6000 - This data collector allows you to see the site on a handheld device and you can edit and add points accordingly. Perfect for land surveying, the FC-6000 will get the job done.

To reiterate, these are just some common types of land surveys. It is important to note that each survey has its own requirements and tools to use. Make sure you have the right tool for the job by shopping on our website or visiting us in person at Benchmark Tool & Supply!