Land surveying is known as the technique, surveyors use to accurately gather information through observations, measurements in the field, determining a position of points and the distances or angles between them, commonly practiced by licensed surveyors
It’s a simple scientific process of measuring or establishing the dimensions of a particular area of the earth’s surface, including its directions, elevations, angles, and horizontal distances.
Artificial structures, like roads or buildings, may also be noted on a survey. It can be used to make a map or even a globe once these measurements are taken.
A primary role of a land surveyor is to find the boundary of a person’s property. That boundary is described in legal documents and the land surveyor follows that description and locates the boundary on the physical land and marks it, so the owner knows his/her property.
It will help the landowners to know and avoid building close to areas mapped out for roads etc.
What types of land surveying?
For land surveys, there are two main types of surveys which are:
Boundary surveys and topographic surveys
Boundary surveys are an important component of pre-construction due diligence. The boundary survey will establish the perimeter of a property as it relates to a site’s legal description.
To coordinate a boundary survey from a licensed land surveyor, who will review recorded documents and do a physical inspection to determine the physical boundary of the site.
A record of the survey will be filed with any relevant agencies as required to help determine if there are any encroachments on or over the site boundary
When is Boundary Survey needed?
A Boundary Survey is most needed before the land is purchased. They will help you to survey the parcel which will ensure that the expense and frustration of defending a lawsuit, moving a building, or resolving a boundary dispute can be avoided.
They will determine the location of legal land ownership lines that may minimize real estate transactional risk and are required by many titles and lending companies to minimize the risk of their transaction.
The boundary survey is based on two key components: land records research and a field survey. Document research includes a review of available records including title certificates, deeds, part surveys, easements, and subdivision maps.
Once the historic boundaries of the property have been identified, the land surveyor will take physical measurements of the site. Both sets of data are then compared to determine if there are any discrepancies.
Topographic Surveys Checks what kind of structure can be elected on a piece of land or if it’s an already built structure that needs re-modernized. For example, drainage, improvements, fences, utility poles, elevations, land contours, parking lots, trees, and streams.
These are measured for their elevation on a particular piece of land and presented as contour lines on a plot. Topographical surveys are sometimes required by the government.
Engineers and architects also use topographical surveys to aid in the design of improvements or developments on a site.
What is the Importance of land surveying
Land surveying is very important on a new piece of land you want to purchase. It will permit you to be aware of the property lines and terrain. It is very necessary to enable you to avoid any problems down the line.
Land surveying isn’t about just drawing property boundaries on a map. It is much more complex, using special tools to ensure that the buyer has exact knowledge of what they’re getting.
Most developments will require a site survey done before they get started with any construction. It will help them to determine the property lines, and also the contour of the land that they are working with to help with building design.
Surveys must be done before a piece of property is purchased (not after) to show the exact property lines. This will help prevent discrepancies later on. A land survey will need to be done if there is conflict regarding boundaries and there wasn’t one previously done.
It will also need to be arranged if you intend on dividing your property and selling a piece of land. Additionally, some lenders may require a land survey before approving a home or property loan.
How do you conduct a land survey?
Well, have it in your mind that only professionally-done property surveys are legally-binding. With that out of the way, you must be able to determine the original boundary of the said property.
Rural properties Oftentimes may be the case that existing boundaries are not the real, legal boundaries of a property.
You may assume that where you fenced or ditched are the right boundaries only to discover your deed may specify another line that must be used to determine the actual boundaries
To determine where your legal boundaries are located, you will need at least one legal document describing your property. The deed to the property should have a section called “legal description” that describes the boundaries and the relationships between them.
Another useful document is the surveyor’s map of your land, also called a plat. Unlike your deed, the plat will show an actual map of the borders of your property and surrounding areas.
Locating a plat for your land may be difficult or impossible. Sometimes they are included with the deed. Other times they may be present in your city or county’s records. Check with your town or county hall to check if these records exist there.
If you can’t locate a plat, try locating those for surrounding properties. This can help you identify shared boundaries.
A previous survey map can be unreliable, especially if it is very old. Keep in mind also that not all land has been surveyed.
Read and understand your property documents.
The plat should be fairly easy to understand, as it shows the location of boundary lines and markers, and sometimes has other helpful information like coordinates or triangulation information.
However, the legal description on the deed will be written in a more confusing language and will use one of two systems for describing boundary lines: metes and bounds or the public land survey system (PLSS).
Metes and bounds is a system that uses a bearing (or direction) and length (or distance) between points to describe the property. Bearings are described using a specific notation that converts compass azimuth (the degree markings on a compass) to bearing notation.
This means adding a number (0 for NE, 90 for SE, 180 for SW, or 270 for NW) to the listed measurement to find the matching compass azimuth.
For example, the description might list a starting point, then a next marker 200 feet to S50W from that point. This means that the next marker is 200 feet away and roughly to the southwest. S50W would be 230 degrees (50 +180) using the azimuth system (or almost exactly due southwest).
Alternately, your land may be described by the original boundaries of the PLSS. This nearly 200-year old system split up the land into 640-acre sections.
It then split those sections into quarters, and those quarters into further quarters, and so on. Sections are numbered and then parts of those sections are described with fractions. Get the full details here
How much does it cost to do a land surveyor?
Land surveying is a relatively difficult and time-consuming task, so expect to pay between $350 and $500, if not more, if you choose to have your land professionally surveyed.
If you don’t want to pay for this, you can survey the land yourself. However, keep in mind that doing so will not provide you with the same benefits as a professional survey.
An amateur survey cannot be used in court, as part of bank-required information in a property sale, or as a way to move existing property markers to make them more accurate.
An amateur survey can be used to get an educated approximation of your boundary line and may help you in a property dispute of a non-legal nature (like your neighbor claiming that you’re building a fence on his land).
Professional surveyors can also provide you with information that would have a hard time getting on your own, such as gaps or overlaps with neighboring properties; easements; right-of-ways; your ownership of water features;
relationships with the neighboring property (overhangs, encroachments, etc.); public infrastructure or utility rights; access points; and zoning issues.
Hire a professional if you need one.
Performing a property survey by yourself can be a more cost-effective way to go, but can potentially get you in trouble. If you’re off by even a small margin and build something on a neighboring property, your neighbor can take you to court, which could end up costing you thousands.
Consider the costs of making a mistake before deciding not to spend a couple of hundred dollars to have your land professionally surveyed.
If you do hire a professional, make sure that they are licensed, insured, and have years of experience. Choose a licensed professional who specializes in property surveys, rather than a general contractor or handyman who sometimes does surveys on the side.