Creating a custom home requires understanding the topography of the land you are planning to build on. The topography of a site can influence your ability to safely and soundly build up a structure because it encompasses the 3-dimensional layout of a landscape. Topography includes features such as changes in elevation or unique geological characteristics. Hills, bodies of water, existing trees, and some rock deposits may all show up on a thoroughly drawn topographic map. Knowing where these natural features lie along the landscape can help you choose the right building site for your custom home.

What Is A Topographic Map?

Figuring out the topography of a site usually involves hiring a specialist to conduct a survey. Using calibrated equipment, it’s possible to detect the topographic features of a site and map them in a 2-dimensional model. Most topographic maps make use of curved contour lines and color coding to indicate differences in elevation or substance. With a professional topographic map, it is possible to understand the unique shape and layout of the landscape you plan to build your custom home on.

When you purchase land or a property, you should also gain access to the relevant plat maps. These documents provide in-depth information about the site you own, often including a topographic map of the area. In many cases, it is possible to rely on existing topographic maps rather than hiring a professional to conduct a new survey. However, in some instances where the landscape is subject to rapid changes, it may be necessary to have a new version of your site’s topographic map drawn up and analyzed in order to get the most accurate results.

Why Consult A Topographic Map?

Before building your custom home, it is vital to consult a topographic map in order to be sure that the structures you intend to build will have proper support. Building man-made structures on land that cannot sufficiently support the weight or type of construction can have devastating results. Building atop moist, non-dense soil can lead to structural failure later on due to landslides, and starting construction in an area that is difficult to work with can result in unforeseen problems and financial losses. By conducting a professional topographic reading of your building site, you can avoid incurring costly damages down the road.

A professional can analyze your topographic map to help determine the best site for building your project. They may consider factors such as site elevation, type of soils present, location of trees and shrubs, and existence of nearby bodies of water. Understanding how these natural features may interfere with different types of construction can guide you in selecting a site fit for construction. More than that, once a site has been selected from your topographic map, it is possible to visualize where the boundaries of your project will end up and what type of landscape will surround the building.

Analyzing a topographic map can also help you plan the vistas visible from your custom home, too. With an educated idea of where you plan to construct your custom home, it is possible to figure out which natural features can be made visible with strategic window placement. Spending some time and extra consideration, you can plan for different rooms of your home to host specific natural views or even opt to place an outdoor patio to take advantage of a special outlook. Knowing the topography surrounding your building site allows you to create a custom home with predetermined natural views.

How to Get a Topographic Map of Your Land

If you own a piece of land, you will likely also have access to pre-existing topographic maps of the site. As briefly mentioned above, topographic maps are generally included in the plat map for a lot, which should be transferred to the owner of the land or property at the time of sale. If you are not sure about your plat map documents, you should be able to access them, including topographic maps, from your local county recorder.

Who Makes Topographic Maps?

If your plat map does not include the proper topographic maps for a full analysis of your building site, consider hiring a professional to take these measurements. In order to have a topographic map made of your site, you will need to hire a specialized professional, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, a land surveyor, or specialized construction engineer.

No matter how you go about it, it’s important to work with a topographic map before finalizing construction plans for your custom home in order to ensure the building site will be able to support a man-made building. Additionally, understanding the topography of the land under and surrounding your custom home may help you plan for proper maintenance over time, allowing you to keep your custom home in good shape throughout the years.

Work with an Experienced Custom Home Architect

Working with an experienced luxury custom home architect like the Anderson Studio of Architecture and Interior Design can improve your overall experience of building a custom home. Our knowledgeable and accomplished team puts the client’s preferences, inclinations, goals, and dreams at the center of every project to create personalized luxury homes. When you work with a professional architect group that you can trust, you’re sure to love the way your dream home is built!