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Cut and Fill Analysis


Cut and fill analysis is a process used in construction site surveys to determine the volume of earth that needs to be cut (excavated) or filled to achieve a desired topography or design grade. Drones equipped with surveying technologies, such as LiDAR or photogrammetry, are commonly employed to gather the necessary data for cut and fill calculations.

The use of drones in this process enhances efficiency, accuracy and safety in surveying and analysis.

Data CollectiOn

Drones are deployed to capture high-resolution aerial images or LiDAR data of the construction site. These images or data points cover the entire area, including the existing terrain and any structures present.

Digital Surface Model (DSM) Generation

The collected data is processed to create a Digital Surface Model (DSM) using photogrammetry or LiDAR technology. The DSM represents the existing topography of the site, including all surface features such as buildings, vegetation, and the ground.

Design Grade Reference

The desired or design grade of the construction site is established. This is the target elevation or topography that needs to be achieved for the project.

Cut and Fill Calculation

The difference between the existing terrain (DSM) and the desired design grade is calculated for each location on the construction site.

Positive differences indicate areas where material needs to be added (fill), while negative differences indicate areas where material needs to be removed (cut).

Volume Calculation

The cut and fill values are used to calculate the volume of earth that needs to be moved. This volume is expressed in cubic units (such as cubic meters or cubic yards).

Visualisation and Analysis

The results of the cut and fill analysis are visualized using specialized software. Color-coded maps or 3D visualizations are often created to highlight areas where cut or fill operations are required.

Optimisation and Planning

Construction professionals use the cut and fill analysis to optimize construction plans. By understanding the earthwork requirements, they can plan excavation and fill operations efficiently, minimizing costs and environmental impact.

Monitoring Changes Over Time

In construction projects with multiple survey phases, cut and fill analysis can be conducted at different stages to monitor changes over time. This helps in tracking construction progress and making adjustments to the project plan as needed


Cut and fill analysis is a critical component of construction site planning and grading. It helps project managers and engineers optimise earthmoving operations, manage material quantities effectively, and ensure that the final construction aligns with design specifications. 

David Storm
Bellway Homes
- Technical Director

I have worked with DRONE SURVEYING for some years now, from checking a boundary of new land to auditing earthworks. The use of drones on our sites is now standard; we monitor progress and calculate cut and fill via the online software as our sites progress.

Ian McIntyre
Miller Homes
- Build Engineer Manager

The use of regular mass data collection and the latest drone technology and practises will without doubt save us time and money on our sites. 

Iain Hamilton
Taylor Wimpey
- Technical Director

We use DRONE SURVEYING on all of our sites to support our cut and fill strategy, with regular surveys and their cutting-edge software, we are able to manage our sites much more effectively. 

Adam Bills
Countryside Properties
- Associate Development Director

Having now worked with DRONE SURVEYING engineering solutions for a number of years, their services have proven to be invaluable conducting our volumetric surveys, progress videos and cut and fill support.  The drone data platform has allowed us to get the best from the data with full support and training provided from the DS team

Jacob Henry
- Engineering Manager

The drone data helps us to make quicker and smarter key decisions to ensure we have budget and time control on our projects.  Having monthly surveys on our sites ensures we keep full control of all earth movements.

Greg Richards
Taylor Wimpey
- Senior Engineer

Using aerial imagery from drone surveys helps us anticipate errors or mistakes in the next stage of development instead of waiting for work to start on the ground.  This proactive approach has saved us hundreds of thousands of pounds; a reactive approach can be costly