What is land surveying?
Land Surveying is the profession of creating and retracing on the site and documenting land divisions and boundaries mathematical and scientific methods and instruments. All States license the practice of Land Surveying to assure the public that individuals in the profession have met minimum qualifications. Several years of education and experience, as well as passing rigorous written examinations are required to become a Land Surveyor. Unlicensed support personnel such as field crew members, drafters and researchers can also assist a Licensed Land Surveyor.
Is there a difference between land surveying and measuring?
Yes. While most Land Surveyors today use modern and mostly very concise and accurate measuring tools, there are many tasks in their normal procedures that don’t use measuring tools at all. Judgment, evaluation and past experience are just as important as accurate measurement in solving a boundary issue. Evaluating the measurement data along with other information and evidence is one of the major tasks of a Professional Land Surveyor.
What is the difference between boundary surveying and construction staking?
Boundary surveying entails the process of determining where on the ground a particular parcel of land is in relation to other parcels and surrounding features. Survey crews will use various surveying tools and techniques while performing a boundary survey. Stakes and or markers, sometimes called monuments, may be placed to indicate particular locations and or information. Only after proper evaluation and documentation by the Licensed Land Surveyor can these markers be judged “boundary” items. After this, these markers should usually be preserved. However, while survey crews use many of the same surveying tools and techniques in construction staking, the markers established in the process are totally different. These stakes or markers are intended to inform the construction workers information about where to build the item being constructed so it will comply with the previous design. Once the item is built the markers can usually be removed.
Why or when would I need my Land Surveyed?
° When buying land and you do not clearly know where the property line is on the ground.
° When selling land and you do not clearly know where the property line is on the ground.
° When land is not clearly defined by a plat, legal description, or older Land Survey.
° When you cannot be certain of the location of your property corners.
° When building, Land Surveying often used to determine drainage, setbacks, and proper planning by many.
° Before land is divided. When a lending institution requires a survey for a mortgage.
° Before building a fence, building, shed, or anything close to an unknown property line.
° Before timber is to be cut near a property line.
° When purchasing title insurance.
° When applying for a “Torrens Title” to “register” you and your land title.
° Whenever a boundary line or corner is unknown or in disagreement.
° To settle a boundary dispute of some type.
° When you think you might have an encroachment on your land.
° When clearing or doing construction in “wetland” areas in the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers.
° Before developing property.
Many times, an Attorney, Bank or title insurance agent will require that a Land Surveyor clear up an ambiguous land description, or verify the location of structures on the property so that the lending institution can agree to finalize a loan
Can I find my own property lines?
No, not necessarily. Across the U.S., laws, ordinances, customs and requirements differ on whether you can build without a Survey, or sell land without a Survey. For the land that is “Surveyed”, one often asks how to find that “Surveyed” land boundary on the ground, not just on a piece of paper. This aids in building fences, landscaping, entry roads and driveways, etc
Isn’t my survey on file someplace?
No, not necessarily. Often, “Subdivision Plats” which are prepared by Surveyors, are filed of record in the local Government Courthouse. Many people view these as a “Survey”, because they can see their lot on it. If you can find recorded documentation to substantiate what you “own” compared to what is referred to on the “subdivision plat”, it may help you determine what the “approximate” dimensions of a lot are. However, these distances as shown are only approximate. The true distance of a lot line is that which is measured between the positions of original, undisturbed lot corners of the subdivision plat. The Land Surveyor is the one who determines these “positions”, and determines whether they may be original, undisturbed positions.
What information should I supply the Land Surveyor?
° Explain the exact purpose of the survey explaining what your needs or plans are. The Land Surveyor may often suggest ideas you have not thought of.
° Ask questions if you do not understand what is being presented or discussed.
° Supply “proof of ownership” from a reliable source. This may include but is not limited to: The legal description of the property, (Lot , Block and Subdivision name, aliquot part description, or deed recording information), a copy of a title opinion, title search or title insurance.
° Make available any additional old surveys, plats, plot plans or building plans.
° Make known all disputes over corners or boundaries.
° Supply any information you may have about the location of your property lines or corners.
° Provide information about adjoining land owners.
What does the Land Surveyor do when I hire him?
To locate your described boundaries on the ground, the Surveyor obtains a copy of your land description from an abstract, title opinion, title certificate, certificate of title, deed or other form of “proof of ownership”. The Surveyor researches available records of your property and often adjoining properties for any possible conflicts. Using this information, he takes measurements of the property to identify your property lines. This work may take much time and several trips to the property. After measurements and research are analyzed, the Land Surveyor can determine the boundary of the property, and advise of any evidence of encroachments or defects in the description of your property, giving you a professional opinion as to where the boundaries of your property are. The Land Surveyor finds and confirms the correctness of your property corners, or replaces them as needed. Many people find that additional “points set on the property line” are helpful. These points might be used for fencing, construction, hilly terrain, on lines which have their terminus in water or along long property lines. If this is a benefit to you to have additional “points set online” mention this to the Land Surveyor before work has begun. Again, be up front with your needs of the Land Surveyor. This will help greatly in the long run.
It may be necessary to survey property adjacent to yours in order to replace property corners, or confirm that your property corners are correct. Do not be surprised to see the Land Surveyor working in your neighborhood in addition to just your property.
Most Surveyors use electronic distance and angle measuring equipment, as well as the traditional transit and tape. Some surveyors may use satellite positioning equipment as a measuring tool. Modern computer systems aid in efficiently gathering measurements and in evaluating all collected evidence required to perform the survey. The use of these instruments and computers enables the Surveyor to perform land surveys efficiently, accurately and cost effectively.
He will also advise you of any legal matters needed to perform the Land Survey, or legal problems encountered during the Land Survey, referring you to your Attorney if needed. These matters are usually not at all obvious to the layperson.
Does the Land Surveyor tell me what I own?
The Land Surveyor locates the property as described and interpreted in your “proof of ownership”, and compares your “proof of ownership” to field evidence of ownership. You furnish the Surveyor with your legal description, current title opinion, or title policy concerning the parcel that you want surveyed. The Surveyor then locates the property on the ground, marking the corners with physical monuments, and (if needed), provides you with a record of the Land Survey showing the results. The Surveyor will also disclose the areas that are in conflict so that the title company and/or attorney can resolve any problems.
Will I be shown my property corners and lines?
Ask for this to be done, as it is always a good idea to know where one’s property lines and corners are. Property corners are normally found or replaced by the Land Surveyor. If the property corner is set (replaced), the monument is identified with the License number of the Land Surveyor. Property corners are usually set beneath the surface of the ground, for durability and permanence.
Do I need a Land Survey for building a garage or an addition?
Most public agencies require a Land Survey to obtain a building permit. From a practical standpoint, you should protect your investment by making sure you are building on your own property. Along with the information required to build a fence, the location of any existing structures may be helpful. This information should be shown on a boundary survey with improvements. If new improvements are significant, the preparation of a topographic map may help to determine a finished floor elevation that will allow for both drainage and a pleasing appearance.
After the preparation of construction plans, the Surveyor can stake the proposed building corners to ensure that the information is transferred accurately to the ground and to final construction. This will ensure that you meet setback requirements and other restrictions enforced by any local government agencies. Failure to comply with zoning laws and ordinances could result in the loss of a future sale if the purchasers have an up-to-date survey done. Mortgage lenders generally do not advance money until zoning law infringements are cleared up.