What Equipment Is Used in Building Surveying?

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Contractors use a variety of different equipment to conduct building surveying. Though modern technology has sped up the time it takes to survey, contractors still use centuries-old equipment based on the specific job-site requirements.

Historical Equipment

From as early as the 16th century, surveyors have used a theodolite to measure both vertical and horizontal angles. The modern theodolite uses a level and a telescope that can move both horizontally and vertically to accurately align with an object.

Modern Equipment

An electronic distance measurement tool uses sounds waves to calculate distance from an object to the tool. A total station sends laser beams to an object, captures the light reflections off the object and measures distances based on the change in the light's wavelength.


More modern systems decrease the amount of time that it takes to survey, but their accuracy and inability to measure through trees are considerations to look out for.


Building surveying equipment assists with accurately building major projects such as dams, skyscrapers and urban development. Surveyors can also use the instruments establish quality assurance on existing buildings.