How To Accurately Measure A Piece Of Land Using Tape Measures Or Programs In The Office

Find out how to accurately measure a piece of land when out on site using tape measures or using Google Earth Pro to digitally measure.

Article By: Tom Ayre
Last Update: November 2019

In this article, we are going to discuss 2 ways you can semi accurately measure a piece of land using cheap, easy to obtain tape measures and computer programs.

Being able to measure an area of land yourself can allow you to:

  • Save money on employing a survey company to undertake the work.
  • Accurately plan your own designs on the land
  • Give you an idea of how big in terms of lengths and areas.

In this article, we are going to discuss 2 techniques to measure an area of land.

  • Using surveying tapes
  • Using Google Earth Pro (a now free program).

For the tape measure method, it does rely on the land being reasonably sized. I would suggest no larger than 25 x 25 metres to begin with.

For larger areas, we recommend employing a land survey company who can measure the land using a laser total station or GPS equipment.

Using the Google Earth tool is much better for measuring larger areas of land however it does rely on the boundaries or features being visible from the satellite imagery.

Let’s get started.

Do you need help measuring your land?

We help Architects, Engineers and land owners accurately measure their land for construction and engineering projects. Read more about our topographical survey service.

Help Me Survey My Land

Using Surveying Tapes

Equipment Required

  • Notepad
  • Pencil
  • 3 x Surveying Tapes (30 metres is ideal)
  • An assistant to help hold the tape

Survey Method

The method to measure and then draw the land relies on a few basic trigonometry ideas (don’t worry, no calculations required).

Step 1

Take your 30-metre surveying tape and pin one end into the ground and lay out the tape to its full length.

You will want to place the tape in a relatively central location and where the tape can be laid in a straight line. It is very important the tape is straight.

Step 2

Take out your notepad, make a fresh page and draw a diagram as per the image below. The basic premise of this diagram is that the centre line represents the tape measure and the left-hand side is to the left of the tape and the right is to the right of the tape. This is what we will be using to record our measurements.

Step 3

The next step is to simply start measuring and recording data. The basic idea here is to measure a single location using 2 measurements from 2 different locations on the long 30-metre tape (see the diagram). Try and maximise the angle between the 2 measurements, the smaller the angle, the less accurate you are likely to be.

When measuring the points you need to ensure you are taking 2 bits of key information.

  • The length along the 30-metre tape you are measuring from.
  • The distance from the point to the point you are measuring.

To record this you will use your notepad as per the example below.

Step 4 

Continue to take as many measurements from the line and to the points as you require. You may need to utilise another page or 2 depending on how dense the survey area is.

Take care with the 30 metre main tape to ensure it remains straight.

Laying out the tape for land survey
Laying out the tape measure.
Measuring the land survey points
Taking the site measurements
recording land measurements
Recording the notes in your notepad.

Drawing Method

To draw up the survey results I will assume that you can competently draw scaled items by either hand or using a CAD program. If you aren’t sure then I’d recommend reading up on the subject here.

Step 1 

Start by drawing a straight line at an appropriate scale so as your 30-metre chainage tape is accurately represented.

Step 2

Measure to the start length of your first measurement along your chainage line and make a mark. In my example, my first measurement was taken at 0m and then at 5 metres along the chainage line.

For the 0m measurement, I had a point distance of 10.125 metres and at my 5-metre mark, a 13.294 measurement.

Step 3

Using a protractor or CAD tool (we use the circle command) set your radius to your first measurement, in this instance it was 10.125 metres from the 0m chainage mark. Using your protractor make an arcing line.

Step 4

Once again, use your protractor and go to your second measurement. In this instance, it was 5m chainage and 13.294 m distance. Make a mark with the protractor. Now, in theory, you will see that your 2 arcs will have an intersecting point. This is the location of the measured point relative to your 30m chainage tape.

Step 5 

Continue to do this process for the remainder of the points. You will now have all the locations relative to the chainage tape! You can then do a dot to dot exercise to produce your drawing.

drawing out land survey points
Using a protractor to draw out the points
drawing out land survey points
Drawing showing the marked out points
Final drawing of measured out survey land
Drawing following the dot to dot exercise 

Using Google Earth Pro

What You Need

Method To Measure Area / Perimeter Length

Step 1

Once you have downloaded and installed the program, proceed to open the program and zoom into the area you are looking to measure.

Step 2 

Select the “New Polygon” tool on the top menu bar of the screen (see picture below). This will open a window up called “Google Earth – New Polygon”.

Step 3

Once this window has opened you can use the right-hand button on the mouse to start selecting the area to measure. Once you are happy you have selected the correct area you can then select the “OK” button on the “Google Earth – New Polygon” window.

Step 4

This will then add a new file in the left hand window, in my instance the file was called “Untitled Polygon”. If you then right click on that file and go to “Properties” a new properties window will open. Once this window has opened you can go to the “Measurements” tab to view the perimeter length and area of the land in question.

Google earth how to add a polygon
Select polygon tool.
Google earth polygon tool.
Select polygon area using right click.
Google Earth polygon properties
Edit polygon window.

Method To Obtain Dimensions Of Land (In CAD)

Step 1

Once you have your polygon selected as per the steps above, you need to right click on the file, and then select “Save Place As…”. Select this and save your KMZ file to somewhere on your computer.

Step 2 

Visit the following website:

https://mygeodata.cloud/converter/kmz-to-dxf

When on the site, drag and drop your KMZ file into the upload window.

Step 3

Go through the various windows until you are presented with the button “Convert Now”. Once you click this a your DXF download will begin. With this DXF file you will be able to open up the selected polygon in a CAD program, georeferenced to the location / grid you specified.

Google earth save place as
Saving the polygon as a KMZ file.
Google Earth Converting KMZ to DXF
Convert KMZ to DXF website.

Do you need help measuring your land?

We help Architects, Engineers and land owners accurately measure their land for construction and engineering projects. Read more about our topographical survey service.

Help Me Survey My Land

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By |November 18th, 2019|General Guides|0 Comments

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