Why Get a Land Survey?
A land survey is beneficial to a landowner because it marks all the boundaries of the owner’s property clearly within the writing of a legal document if there is ever to be a dispute. It may also be beneficial to know the dimensions of your property before you build to make sure you don’t accidentally build on your neighbors land. Getting a survey done can also keep you from digging into power lines or pipelines. There are many types of land surveys that accomplish different goals.
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An ALTA survey is most likely to be used when securing an investment property or buying a home. Sometimes this might be also called a mortgage survey because money lenders usually require one before giving financing on a home.
A boundary survey is used to mark the perimeters of a plot of land that belongs to a specific owner. However, a boundary survey doesn’t account for any buildings or improvements made to the lot and it may be included in other types of surveys.
A location survey is done to mark boundaries and improvements on a piece of land. It maps out the distance from the borders of the property to the buildings and improvements on the lot. This type is often used for city zoning permits.
Subdivisions are typically used when a builder wants to divide a large portion of land into separate lots for homes and utilities. A subdivision may also be used on an investment property if the owner wishes to give portions of the land to children as an inheritance.
Topographical surveys are used to map out all the natural and man-made elements on a plot of land. It also is used to map the elevation changes on the property such as how deep an in-ground pool is or how tall a mountain is.
Site-Planning is used to plan out where improvement is to be placed. This type is most often necessary for obtaining a building permit. A construction survey is where the corners of a planned improvement are marked. It may also mark the fill or grade required for the building project.
How Long Does it Take?
If you are looking to get a residential survey done such as the ALTA or a pre-build survey on a lot you plan to build a home on, you should plan for the survey process to take about two weeks. It takes this long due to initial research, the actual data gathering and then the finalization of legal documents. The documents may have to be run through local government as well, contributing to the time it will take to complete your survey.
We offer SWOT surveys that are also known as utility surveys for identifying where the utilities are hidden underground. This is helpful when you are doing a new building project or even if you want to have an inground pool built.
Do I Need an ALTA Survey?
When getting an ALTA survey done the land surveyor will rely on standards by the American Land Title Association. These standards help the surveyor to correctly complete and prepare the survey. The survey is prepared usually for both the buyer and the moneylender on a home. The ALTA survey is meant to be more detailed than a boundary survey, though the boundaries of the property are often measured and recorded in an ALTA survey. Any easements to a property will be included in an ALTA survey but not a boundary survey. This type of survey also records improvements made to the property such as fences, buildings, or additions.
Land Survey Services
A full boundary survey is the most common type of residential service that is offered. A boundary survey can also be used to get a mortgage or loan on a property. It might also be used as a means of getting insurance on a home. This type of survey lists any encroachments to your property or anything that crosses over the boundaries of the property. An encroachment could include anything such as a fence, driveway, or sidewalks. However, boundary surveys are going to be less detailed than an ALTA survey so you will want to make sure the right kind of survey is being done when you are buying a home.
Location surveys include improvements made to the property and the size of those improvements. Your land surveyor will also include the distance of improvements to the property borders. The difference in this type of survey is in the ability to gain building permits and zoning permits. However, the information in the survey is much the same as a boundary survey.
Subdivision and Site Planning
Subdivision surveys are necessary for the process of dividing up land for individual use or the selling off of smaller portions of a property. The process includes measurements taken of the large property and the divisions that are to be made. A map is then drawn up for the individual sections of land often when homes are to be built.
A Site-Planning property survey is most often used in the process of getting a building permit. This process can be done using water levels, lasers or line of sight references. Site-planning involves the measurements of topography and the improvements that have been made to a plot of land. It can be used to find utilities underground as well with sonar tools. Sometimes a site-planning survey will be conducted by the builder wishing to lay out a foundation of a building or who wants to know how large a building project will be relative to the property. The process often uses some marking paint and some small flags or pieces of rebar to mark the outer corners of the project.
Construction and Topographic Mapping
Construction surveys are largely the same as a site-planning survey where it will accomplish the same goal of marking it out where the site improvement is to be placed on the property. This may be done by marking paint and flags as simple markers in the process. The markers are usually placed slightly larger than the actual project is to be so that when the foundation is dug, the markers will remain firmly in place.
A topographic map can be useful for:
- New construction
- Remodeling projects
- Additions to existing buildings
- Roads or bridges
How Often Should my Property be Surveyed?
The purpose of a topographic map is to get the lay of the land and to mark where any existing structures are on a property. This is helpful when planning a project that requires a grade of elevation change from what currently exists on a property. It also helps a construction crew to identify what areas may need better drainage to avoid flooding of a building. Similarly, there is also a type of topographical survey that uses sonar to measure and map the floor of a body of water.
The property survey keeps you from building on land that isn’t actually your own. You could find mixups in the process that need to be straightened out. Building on your neighbors land can prove to be problematic in the future. It is recommended that you get a land survey done every 10 (ten) years on your property. It keeps neighbors from ending up in huge fights with each other to have the boundary lines verified.
Land Surveying Tools
From simple measuring tapes to automatic laser levels, the right equipment makes for fast service and accurate documentation of your land. Having documentation of your property features and the location of utilities is helpful in preventing costly accidents and disasters. This will apply whether you are a homeowner or a large construction company looking to build large skyscrapers.
Some tools that may be used include:
- large measuring tapes
- Total station, a tool mounting to a tripod for measuring distances and angles. It also includes a level. A total station takes electronic measurements that further improve accuracy.
- 3D scanners
What advanced surveying tools do we use?
When preparing a map of a specified property, the land surveyor may use a simple graph paper page to draw an overlay in connection with Google map features. This more advanced surveying method can be used to show topographic features in combination with the surveyor’s precise measurements over a satellite image. In addition, a drone survey can also be used to find more accurate points or to survey a large property more quickly than on foot.