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Land Surveying vs. Mapping: What's the Difference?

Jun 15

Finding points on the Earth's surface and measuring the distances, directions, angles, and elevations between them is part of land surveying. Maps and plot borders are easier to come up with using this data.

Surveying and mapping have been a recognized science since at least Ancient Egypt. Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Pierce were all land surveyors. Surveying is critical to the success of many industries, including civil engineering, construction, architecture, and real estate.



The work of a land surveyor include drawing up maps and conducting surveys to determine the boundaries of a property. They collect the data needed to draw a map of a certain area. Surveyors employ a variety of instruments and software, including theodolites, levels, plumb bobs, and total stations. They can serve as expert witnesses in court cases for engineers, architects, and developers who could use their knowledge.

The only records that may be used in court to prove the exact boundaries of your property are expert surveys. Consequently, they can be decisive in property disputes and are essential in land acquisition and development."


In order to become a land surveyor, what do you need to do?

In order to work as a land surveyor in the state of Florida, you'll need to meet one of the following two requirements.

The first requirement is the degree of education.

Degrees in surveying and mapping or a related field are necessary for employment (geomatics, geomatics engineering, land surveying, etc.)


Four years of working under the supervision of a qualified surveyor put you in a position of responsibility for quality.

Secondly, a degree is required.

Required are a four-year bachelor's degree in a relevant field and 25 semester hours of associated training.

Working for a licensed surveyor for six years, five of which were spent taking responsibility for the accuracy of their job.

Following these requirements, you can apply for a license. If the board accepts your application, you can sit for the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) exam, the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam, and the Florida Jurisdictional exam. '

It is possible to obtain one of two types of licenses:

It is possible to do surveying and mapping under the LS (Land Surveyor) designation. Legal documents can be signed and sealed by land surveyors, who are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the data and maps they produce.

A land surveying firm with this license has been approved by the state. If you're in the business of land surveying, you'll need this license.

To learn more about becoming a licensed land surveyor in Florida, go to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' website.



In some cases, a land survey may be necessary.

  • Prior to making a land purchase, verify that you are getting what you are paying for legally.
  • Ensure that you know exactly where your new fence will be placed before you begin construction.
  • If you're planning to sell your home, having a recent survey on file will help you attract more interested buyers.

Before any new structures are built on a property. The location of your property lines can be determined by conducting a survey. Aside from zoning and local constraints, they'll make sure the new construction is in compliance.

Before signing a land easement, make sure you and all parties involved are clear on what the easement is. Title surveys will also show existing easements.
Professional surveys are the only records that indicate the beginning and end of your property legally. Consequently, they can play a pivotal role in property disputes and are essential in the acquisition and development of land.


According to the legal descriptions, the boundaries of a parcel are specified. Because they are specific to a single parcel of land, these numbers are different from standard street addresses. Thus, they remove any doubt as to the precise location of each property and provide concrete evidence of its beginning and ending points.

Contracts for the sale of real estate, deeds, and mortgages all make use of legal descriptions. On property documents and tax bills, these can be discovered.


Is there a wide variety of survey formats?

A wide range of land surveys and services are readily available, including the following:


In addition to showing the relationship between the deed's limitations and existing improvements on a piece of land, ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys provide a comprehensive image of the property. There are a number of criteria created by ALTA and the NSPS for this survey, including information on the property's boundaries, real property and easements and encroachments as well as data on land ownership.



Commercial/residential surveys are used to define the boundaries of a specific piece of property. This survey is needed for a variety of reasons, including the acquisition or sale of land, the clarification of property borders, and the development of structures on the site.



Prior to the completion of new buildings, construction staking or site layout surveys are used to determine the exact location of the structures. If you're looking to keep your construction project on budget and on time, you may employ construction staking and site layout surveys to help you.



A lot split is the process of dividing an existing plot of land into two separate ones. For example, if a property has many owners and has to be divided, or if a property owner wants to maximize profits by selling two lots, this procedure can be employed. When a property line has to be changed, land surveyors create boundary line adjustments. Zoning and size laws must be followed while drawing lots, hence land surveyors who are familiar with these requirements must perform these services.



When it comes to mapping and stakeouting the entire property, platting services are identical to those offered by Lot Splits. At predefined points along the property lines, land surveyors build survey monuments or markers using wooden stakes.



Using topographic surveys, data on the position of terrain features, both natural and man-made, may be compiled. Various characteristics include trees, creeks, drainage ditches, grading, and other elevations. A topographic survey can be used by landscape architects and engineers to plan site improvements and upgrades.


As-Built or Recorded Drawings

Engineered plans, design modifications, and contractor field adjustments are all included in As-Built surveys of finished upgrades including sewage pipes, buildings, and utility lines.


Environmental and Wetland Surveys

In order to prepare for the corrective building of a site, environmental surveys might be used. An environmental research known as a Wetland Delineation establishes whether or not a wetland exists and the size of the area it covers. For example, wetlands are subject to different regulations than other types of land, therefore it's vital to understand the differences between them. Another type of environmental analysis is the location of structures, such as monitoring wells.



In any body of water, whether it is stationary or moving, hydrographic surveying is used to identify shorelines and water features. According to Mean High Water Surveys, the boundaries of private and public coastal waterways are established. Florida and other important peninsulas are the subject of these analyses.



As part of FEMA elevation certifications, new structures and substantial modifications in Special Flood Hazard Areas are assessed for overall elevation (SFHAs). As a result, flood insurance applications must include them, and doing so lowers premiums. Surveyors check the elevation of a property to see if it meets the requirements for certification.



In this research, the location of subsurface utilities is outlined. They reduce the likelihood of issues occurring during the construction of subsurface utilities or in the vicinity of such services. Subsurface utility systems, for example, might have a major influence on the original design if they are discovered.


Mapping and aerial surveys

To produce high-resolution topographic maps of large areas using aerial surveying and mapping, known as photogrammetry, survey planes are used. These areas would be impossible to photograph using traditional means.