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Having a property survey done is necessary for several situations. These include when a person is purchasing a home, selling a home, or working on home improvement projects that go near the edge of the property. It’s also necessary when you’re trying to settle boundary disputes with a neighbor. Additionally, you may need one if you’re consolidating or separating lots.
Wondering how much hiring a land surveyor will cost? See our cost guide.
What Does A Land Surveyor Do?
Some people don’t understand exactly what they need to ask for when they speak to a property survey company. There are different types of surveys that can occur, so it’s imperative that you know when one you need. This ensures you get an accurate quote and don’t have to spend any additional time getting another survey because you asked for an incorrect one to start with.
Property Line Survey
A boundary or property line survey is the most common type of survey that’s done on residential properties. A surveyor comes to the property with the documentation they need to determine where the property lines are located. They mark each corner of the lot with stakes so everyone is aware of where the boundaries are located.
In order to complete a boundary survey, the surveyor finds the survey monument. This is an iron pipe or piece of rebar that’s sunk into the ground. It’s usually just at or slightly below ground level. The surveyor will spray-paint at the corners and mark right near the monument with a wood stake that denotes this is the corner.
The surveyor may also mark along the property lines between the corners if there are monuments along these. Once the property markers are put up, they shouldn’t be moved unless they are being removed because the need for them to remain is finished. For example, if the property line was marked for a fence, the stakes could be removed once the fence is up.
Remember the wood stakes can’t be placed directly on the corner because the monument is there. Instead, you will have to look for the monument near the stake to find out where the actual corner of your property is located.
A topographical survey is one that marks the land properties, including the highs and lows of the lot. It shows the flow of water and drainage. This type of survey can help with grading the land to minimize the risk of flooding. It can also help in new construction when the land has to be prepared for the foundation of the building.
The topographical survey is also used for flood plains. FEMA can use this for flood insurance purposes. Municipalities may order this type of survey to determine how to reduce flooding within residential areas.
ALTA And ACSM Survey
The American Land Title Association and American Congress of Surveying and Mapping developed a set standard for surveying in order to provide uniform information. The surveys that meet the criteria for these are more detailed than the professional land survey or boundary survey.
There are several items on the ALTA survey and ACSM survey that aren’t found on other surveys. These include:
- Flood zones
- Utility line placements
- Setback requirements
- Zoning requirements
- Nearest intersections
- Information about lighting, signs, and parking
- Square footage or land and buildings
- Curb cuts
Because of the vast amount of information that’s included in this survey, it’s a more expensive option than other surveys. Sometimes homeowners will seek out this type of survey, but it’s also possible that title companies may ask for this.
In some cases, building a new structure on a vacant lot will require a plot plan. While this isn’t technically a type of survey, the surveyor can help the planning process to ensure the structure is being built on the correct spot in the lot. This also gives you the opportunity for a boundary adjustment if this is necessary.
What Questions Should You Ask A Surveyor?
Before you hire a surveyor, you need to ensure you’re getting the work done that you need. In order to do this, you should ask them exactly what type of survey they’re providing. Ask them to give you the specific information that will be covered in the survey.
You should also discuss with them why you need the survey so they can try to ensure you’re asking them for the most appropriate one. In some cases, you may need to get a hybrid survey, which is one that includes points from more than one of these types of surveys. This could require them to give you a custom price.
How Do You Hire A Surveyor?
When you’re ready for a survey, you need to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible on it. Ideally, you will get quotes from at least three surveying companies for the type of survey you need. ImproveNet can help to connect you with surveyors in your area who can get your job done. Just click through to get quotes on having the survey you need to be completed.
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