What Is a Contour Line?

What Is a Contour Line?

June 30, 2020

Contour lines in a Guadalupe County, TX topographic survey offer a way to determine the various elevations of the property’s topography. Any time you buy or sell a property (especially for development), you’ll need a land survey. The land survey will give detailed descriptions and information about the property, including a drawing that accurately depicts any changes in elevation.

Why are contour lines in land surveys important?

Imagine that you’re interested in buying a piece of property for developing. If you’re building a structure, you’ll need to know whether the land is suitable for it—whether it’s a house, a bridge or a megamall—and if you’ll need to do anything to the property before it’s ready for construction. A contour map gives you the exact size and slope of any elevation changes on your property.

There are two different types of contouring: direct and indirect. Direct contouring is best for smaller properties, and when you need a great amount of detail. The contour lines are drawn directly on the ground on each point of elevation, then translated to paper. This tends to be a very time-consuming method.

The indirect method is better for larger properties or when you need to save time. This method takes levels at selected points, then reduces them to form the contour lines.

How contour lines indicate elevation changes

When you’re reading a map with contour lines, look at how far apart the contour lines are spaced. If they’re far apart, that indicates a gentle slope where the elevation doesn’t change greatly from one point to the next.

Contour lines rarely connect or overlap. Each ring you see is on the same elevation, so they won’t always (or ever) be perfect circles—nature rarely makes perfectly round hills, mountains or ponds.

However, if you see a topographic survey in Guadalupe County, TX with closely-spaced contour lines, that describes a much steeper slope. The top of a hill or mountain is the smallest ring in the middle—naturally, the larger the center ring, the flatter the top of the incline is.

What to do with a topographic map

Once you’ve received your topographic map from your land survey, you’ll likely share it with your contractors and architects. They’ll be able to tell you whether you need to level the ground, or whether the building design can accommodate the slope.

Accuracy is key when it comes to contour lines, so it’s always smart to have your own surveyor assess the property and compare it to your seller’s or lender’s land surveys. Even a one-foot mistake can significantly alter your building plans—and drive up the cost of your structure.

Are you in need of accurate and detailed topographic surveys in Guadalupe County, TX? Bettersworth & Associates, Inc. is a team of land planners who have helped area clients since 1953. Whether you’re a buyer, seller, lender or developer, we can accurately deliver the information you need—get in touch with us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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