Beyond the Redline: Topographical Surveys with Added Value

For construction and design professionals such as architects, contractors and engineers, measured building surveys and topographical surveys play a crucial role in reducing the risk of encountering unforeseen issues during a project.

Generally, when a topographical survey is requested, a design professional (or sometimes a property owner) will provide a surveyor, such as Terrain Surveys, with details of the area to be surveyed, whether that be in the form of an aerial photograph, an OS map, or perhaps a previous topographical survey drawing - all of which are valid and will have the survey area clearly indicated, commonly referred to as the ‘redline area’.

Whilst this is crucial in ensuring that the correct area is surveyed, we feel it is important to look beyond the redline. Critical site features, both man-made and natural, may be located outside the redline area and, should your surveyor go no further than this, such features and detail will likely not be included on the topographical survey drawing. It is therefore more efficient, and ultimately more cost-effective, to ensure that your chosen topographical surveyor has the knowledge and experience to look beyond the redline area.

There are many reasons why including this information with a topographical survey is critical to the design and planning stages of a project, such as by providing a greater degree of contextual understanding, giving a broader context for the position and heights of neighbouring buildings, adjacent large tree positions and location of utility services. For example, the main connections for services will typically lie beyond the redline area and are generally located in street outside of a site. Additionally, when we are instructed to undertake a topographical survey, we will normally include part of the road and site features at the property entrance, if not already requested.

Recognising that each topographical survey is unique, we believe it is important to understand from our clients the reason why the survey is required. We will then ensure that all relevant features, both inside and outside the redline area, are captured accordingly. Working closely with architects, contractors and other construction professionals for two decades has enabled us to identify how we can add the most value during a topographical survey.

In summary, the next time you instruct a topographical survey, we suggest that you ask your topographical surveyor whether they go beyond the redline to ensure you do not miss those all-important details.

Should you wish to obtain a quotation for a topographical survey, Terrain Surveys would be pleased to assist and provide a bespoke fee proposal within 48 hours.


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Welwyn Office +44(0)1438 841300
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Midlands Office +44(0)1788 877262
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