Land surveying

Land surveying is an ancient and sometimes mystical practice – at least to the lay-person. Just how does the land surveyor decide where a missing property beacon should be replaced? Or on what basis does the land surveyor decide whether a wall or fence dividing two properties is in the correct position or not?

Rooted in ancient Egypt, land surveying developed to meet the needs of farmers working the Nile floodplain. After the floods receded, the evidence of where different lands started and ended had been obliterated.

The Egyptians developed techniques to measure out land boundaries from benchmarks which were placed safely away from the flood waters. Modern survey instrumentation may have changed since the ancient Egyptians, but the mysterious mix of skill and science which define the work of the land surveyor remains the same.

Land surveying is a science in that standard mathematics such as trigonometry, geometry, and calculus form the basis of all measurements and calculations.

Land surveying is also an artistic skill in that measurement in the real world is not undertaken in a laboratory. In the field, a variety of factors influence measurement precision. Factors such as atmospheric pressure, temperature, accuracy of the measuring instrument, and skill of the user. The land surveyor is therefore always interpreting always required to make a “best fit, most likely” choice when determining property boundaries.

While modern day measurement devices make obtaining a position fairly simple – anyone reading this blog is probably doing so on a GPS enabled device. What remains not-so-simple is the skill and ability to interpret the data and make professional decisions. The decisions of a professional land surveyor have legal implications and form the foundations of a property based economy.

Whether a farmer along in the Nile River, an RDP beneficiary, or a multi-billion commercial development, confidence in the legal beacons and boundaries of the property provide the cornerstone for economic investment and growth.

So now, the next time you are intrigued by a land surveyor standing behind a tripod in the road, or holding a GPS on a pole, remember the value that skilled measurement scientists have added to the civilisation since ancient times.

NPM Geomatics

About Us

The company has origins dating back to 1905 when the Horne brothers established their practice in Queenstown.

We specialise in Land, Cadastral, Sectional Title, 3D Laser Scanning, Topographical and Engineering Surveying.