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What to consider for Topo Surveys


Studio Victoria

3 minutes

In our previous article we explained what topographical surveys are. This article will explore what you need to look for when choosing a Topographical Survey by answering the following questions: How can a Drone Topographical Survey add value to your business? And What do you need to consider when getting a Topographical Survey for your business? Keep reading to ensure you hire the best company to get the best solution that suits your needs to #ONEUPYOURBUSINESS!


In our previous article, you learned the tremendous advantages drones can provide you over traditional methods. We highlighted how drone surveys could capture data with ultimate precision and accuracy in reduced time in a more cost-effective manner. Now, we look into how using drones to conduct a Topographic Survey can add value to your business:

  • Reduces harmful emissions: If you're in the Race to Zero, your priorities are how you can reduce the number of emissions your business produces to help the UK achieve its net-zero targets by 2050. Drones are emission-free, so implementing a Topographical Drone Survey means eliminating the need for highly polluting helicopters, helping you in your green efforts
  • Improves workflow: Hiring a drone surveyor to conduct a Topographic Survey can also offer you more output varieties like 3D models, digital terrain models, digital surface models and orthomosaics, as well as the traditional CAD outputs: elevation profiles and contour maps. Having a range of formats to choose from and a fully compatible BIM workflow allows you to share, view, edit and embed information in one single location, enhancing collaboration
  • Increases safety: drones are safely operated from the ground; this reduces associated risks such as working at height, walking over uneven terrain and helps to access obstructed or dangerous areas without putting anyone in physical harm's way
  • Saves time and money*: Drones can cover more land in less amount of time compared to traditional methods. For instance, fixed-wing drones can cover up to 400 hectares per hour with a single battery charge, which is impossible to achieve with a conventional survey. With a reduction of the time that the surveyor needs to be on-site, you will also cut your costs down significantly.
  • Unrivalled precision and accuracy: Drones can offer unrivalled precision and accuracy as we can achieve 1 millimetre per pixel for critical projects, with 0.6 centimetres per pixel being the norm. Most traditional surveys use 1.5 centimetres per pixel and, in some instances, 3 centimetres per pixel. It's essential to ensure your topographic map is to scale and positioning-correction technologies: survey-grade drones use either Real-Time Kinematic or Post-Processed Kinematic; you can learn more and the difference between RTK and PPK by clicking here


Topographical surveys are vital for land development projects to provide you with accurate land measurements. Whether you are planning for new builds or designing drainage schemes, knowing what to look for in a company is essential to get what you require the first time around without losing money in the long run. Below we've outlined a few things you need to consider before settling on a company:


We would advise getting quotes from your shortlisted companies before you hire anyone. You should provide as much detail as possible about the survey so that those companies can give you the most accurate pricing. Quotes should be free, which is also worth double-checking as every company has different procedures.


As explained in the previous point, the more detail you provide upfront about the survey, the more accurate the quote will be. Bear in mind that costs will depend on the size of the land, potential public incursions, GSD that you require, etc.


The time and duration it will take to perform a Traditional Survey will entirely depend on what method you go for: Modern or Traditional surveying methods. The modern approach uses drones, which if you are busy and want results fast, then a drone Topographical Survey will best suit you.


Does the company cover a warranty if anything goes wrong? It's a good idea to get everything in a written signed contract with details of your expectations, the operations, costs, duration etc. Having a signed document will provide security if the provider doesn't meet the requirements. Reading through the warranty will help you have protection that if anything does go wrong, that is not your fault, then that it's covered, and the company will amend the problem.

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