land survey

Imagine you are constructing a building or improving a landscape. You elect to survey the property twice: once at the onset of the project, and again upon its completion. You might think the two surveys would include all the information which pertains to the property – but you would be mistaken.

Those surveys would fail to encompass key details. They would not include the order in which various aspects of the project were completed. They would not accurately depict the locations of buried features such as sewer lines. They would also not provide a record of whichever changes had to be made to the original plan. As any builder will tell you, improvisation is oftentimes necessary.

Whereas many surveys only capture the before or the after, an as-built survey captures the during. It is created throughout the course of a project so it can report all of the crucial aforementioned information in full.

Why Are As-Built Surveys Needed?

Also known as a “record drawing,” an as-built survey tracks the progression of a building or other construction as it is built.

Contractors in the field frequently make modifications to architectural drawings because their drafters failed to take (or couldn’t have taken) certain aspects of the land into account. They may alternatively make modifications because certain materials were unavailable, or because they didn’t have enough time to complete the project as planned.

No matter the reasons they are made, change orders will make a finished property significantly different from the one that was conceived on paper. An as-built survey accounts for change orders so it can represent the property as accurately as possible. In doing so it greatly facilitates future improvements and maintenance at the property.

An as-built survey is especially useful during future maintenance because it provides an accurate record of the locations of underground features. For example, there is no better time to measure a sewer pipe’s length, width and location than the period of time separating its placement from its burial.

An as-built survey is equally invaluable for underwater features. A stormwater pond will become ineffective if sediment and debris are not periodically removed to restore its original depth – a detail that would not be omitted by a comprehensive as-built survey. For a more famous example, consider Disney World’s Seven Seas Lagoon. Without an accurate as-built survey, the theme park would have to waste money on excessive dredging in order to ensure safe traversal for its ferryboats.

Larger and more complex projects may necessitate the creation of multiple as-built surveys. They will demonstrate that various phases of the project meet critical specifications for elevation and layout before construction can safely proceed to the next step.

What Information Does an As-Built Survey Include?

An as-built survey contains several details which could prove of great value to the property owner in the near or distant future, including:

  • Elevations
  • Property dimensions
  • Locations of roads
  • Locations of sewers
  • Locations of structures
  • Locations of swales and ditches
  • Locations of underground utilities

The form an as-built survey takes depends on the client’s needs. A complex project’s as-built surveys can appear as multiple overlays that facilitate visualization of the project’s progress. An as-built survey can appear just like the original plan, but with key changes added in red. Some clients also require CADD files in addition to hard copies of their as-built surveys.

No matter your project’s timeline or complexity, Compass Consultants is available to ensure its as-built survey is completely accurate and delivered in precise accordance with your specifications and timeline. Please contact our land surveying company in Perham, MN today to get started!

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Compass Consultants – Land Surveying was recently featured in the Summer 2016 issue of OTC Family-Friends & Fun Otter Tail County magazine. If you didn’t get a chance to read the article, check it out here.
Stop by the Battle Lake Review offices or an area business to pick up your own copy of the OTC magazine.

Compass Consultants Inc. is pleased to announce the opening of two new locations this past month, one in Park Rapids and the other in Pelican Rapids. Both locations opened due to the need for a local land surveyor. Compass has a licensed land surveyor in MN, ND and SD.


The Park Rapids location is at 105 Third Street West (inside the current Arvig store) and the local number is 218.237.3697. The Pelican Rapids location is 20 West Mill Avenue (also located inside the Arvig store) and their local number is 218.863.3504. Compass’ land surveying team performs both residential and commercial surveying, land descriptions, and boundary surveys. Additionally, they provide subdivision platting, construction staking, ALTA/ACSM land title surveys, GIS mapping and more.


Compass Consultants, Inc. is a leading provider of professional engineering and consulting services in the Midwest. Also leading in residential and commercial land surveying, environmental and regulatory services, project management and more.