Land surveying is a combination of mathematics, law, history, design, and construction. Surveyors complete detailed measurements, maps, and reports for homeowners, builders, engineers, architects, real estate agents, and mortgage brokers.
A property surveyor wears many hats, which allows them to assist residential and commercial property owners in various ways. You might need a land surveyor to help guide your new construction, create topographic maps, and prevent land encroachment issues.
Land Surveys Can Identify Property Lines and Dimensions
Land surveyors measure acreage, establish property corners, and determine plot lines. These types of surveys are called boundary surveys because they outline a property’s boundaries and corners.
All of this information is useful to landowners who need to know where their property starts and ends. In addition, many ordinances require up-to-date boundary surveys when property owners add structures (like fences) to their estate.
In New York, property owners must hire a licensed land surveyor before performing any construction.
Boundary Surveys Prevent Property Disputes
When you are unsure of property lines, property encroachment can occur. Encroachment is when a person protrudes a piece of land that they do not own.
Encroachment is a violation of property rights and can lead to a civil lawsuit. By hiring a land surveyor, you can avoid encroachment and other property disputes.
Surveyors perform off-site research and on-site fieldwork to ensure their reports match the legal definition in the deed. A finalized boundary survey is a legal document and may be used as evidence in a legal dispute.
Purchasing or Selling a Plot of Land
Why do you need land surveys in real estate? Surveys provide interested buyers with updated property plans. A survey is an asset a seller can use to:
- Verify the plot’s size to demonstrate property value
- Avoid a dispute over inaccurate property description
- Give the buyer more confidence in their purchase
Depending on your state, property surveys may not be optional. When selling or buying a home, land survey information is part of the due diligence process, and, therefore, required at a real estate closing. For example, the state of New York legally requires people to provide land surveys when buying a new home.
Land Title Surveys for Mortgage Lenders
You will need a land survey if you are applying for or refinancing a mortgage. You will also need one if you intend to change the ownership of a commercial property.
These scenarios require an ALTA land title survey. A land title company or mortgage lender may require the survey information as part of due diligence. ALTA surveys can include:
- Boundary lines
- Ancillary building locations
- Structural improvements
- Square footage
- Building height (for commercial properties)
The surveys outline property details to allow agencies to analyze risk and prevent unforeseen property issues (like encroachment). In addition, the surveys alert agencies to any mathematical discrepancies, unexpected easements, and zoning issues surrounding the property.
Land Surveys for Making Permanent Property Upgrades
Landowners should never start a new construction project without getting a land survey first. Surveys are required when adding permanent improvements to plots of land, such as:
- Building additions
Why do you need to hire land surveyors when performing construction? Surveys ensure new structures stay within boundary lines and are safe for the terrain. In addition, most building permits and municipalities require property surveys to ensure the proposed construction adheres to local and state regulations.
Topography Surveys Ensure Safe Construction
Engineers, architects, and builders use topography surveys to devise design plans for new construction. Most property owners need a professional topography report when applying for a building permit.
Topography surveys identify natural features, land elevation, and contour lines. They also include land features like drainage, terrain types, and streets. The surveys provide detailed mapping to ensure the proposed construction is safe and suitable for the property’s terrain.
Guide New Construction and Renovations
If you are planning a construction project on your plot of land, hire a surveyor. Surveys provide in-depth details that guide designers, like architects and civil engineers, to create suitable project plans.
Obtaining a professional land survey allows you to map out various land features that could affect the construction process. Surveys also ensure the project adheres to local laws, which can save you from hefty fines later down the road.
Construction Staking for Safe Building Processes
Before a construction team gets to work, a licensed land surveyor places stakes at the locations of the proposed features. This process, known as construction staking, helps builders follow engineer design plans while preventing costly mistakes.
In addition, construction staking helps contractors determine problem areas, such as inadequate terrain or elevation. Identifying obstacles during the staking phase makes it easy for an engineer to adjust design plans before the construction begins.
Land Surveys Can Establish Flood Elevation Levels
If your property has a high risk of flooding, then you need a land surveyor. Surveyors provide FEMA elevation certificates that determine a property’s risk of flood damage. Insurance companies use elevation certificates to set flood insurance rates.
These types of property surveys demonstrate how your property compares to the base flood elevation on a flood map. The elevation determines your property’s chance of flooding. Insurance companies require this information to render services to properties in high-risk flood zones.
Do You Need a Professional Land Surveyor?
Land surveyors provide a wide range of services, which means they can be helpful in various scenarios. From establishing property lines to providing detailed maps, there are plenty of reasons why you need a professional land surveyor.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of licensed land surveyors in America to reach 48,700 by 2029. With so many professionals to choose from, there is no reason not to call a professional when you need surveying assistance.