Boundary surveys are generally known as for within the following conditions:

  • When you’re shopping for or promoting a parcel of land (the mortgage firm typically requests this survey as a part of the mortgage approval course of)
  • If readability is required between you and your neighbors as to the place the property strains are, or to settle encroachment disputes
  • When you’re planning to construct in your property and need to forestall potential encroachment
  • As a requirement for a constructing allow
  • If there is no such thing as a plat on file, or if it has been awhile since a survey was carried out (particularly if enhancements are being made on or close to your land—boundaries could be forgotten over time)
  • As a requirement for satisfying a will

How To Get A Property Survey

Now that you just perceive the advantages of property surveys, you’re most likely questioning how one can get essentially the most exact concept of your property’s authorized boundaries. There are a number of methods to go about getting a property survey.

Rent A Land Surveyor

Fortunately for grazing deer and hungry rabbits, not each plot of land is clearly outlined and enclosed by a white picket fence. As land shifts over time, some preliminary property line markers could not exist. When you’ve got any questions on property strains, the most secure factor to do is rent a land surveyor.

Knowledgeable land surveyor is an knowledgeable in defining property strains. They use their abilities, training and specialised discipline tools to create legally binding property surveys. They will even function knowledgeable witnesses in court docket instances about land disputes. (Bear in mind after we talked about encroachments earlier?)

In the course of the property survey, a land surveyor will examine historic information and knowledge with any present markers to precisely outline your property strains – and their findings are legally binding. This course of takes time, effort and boots-on-the-ground legwork, so hiring a well-respected and well-reviewed land surveyor earlier than buying land or starting any new house expansions is your greatest wager to keep away from any authorized points sooner or later. Name round for quotes earlier than you resolve, and be cautious of any too-good-to-be-true low estimates.

Test The Property Deed

A number of completely different types of deeds are utilized in actual property. A property deed is a written authorized doc that transfers possession of a property from the grantor to the grantee. (To not be confused with a title, which is the precise doc that states who legally owns the property.) The sort of deed can have a number of items of vital details about the property: correct proprietor names, actual tackle, tax map quantity, authorized description, restrictions, and different info like circumstances of the switch and reservations of rights by a previous proprietor. Whereas some deeds solely reference lots or block quantity, many embrace detailed measurements within the type of – yep, you guessed it – a property survey finished by a land surveyor.

Search Property Survey Data

Whereas there is no such thing as a nationwide archive of actual property information, many states require property surveys to be filed with the native authorities. You may seek for property surveys by visiting the courthouse, property or assessor’s workplace the place your new land is positioned. You’ll need to manually test transfers, necessities and restrictions on the property. This avenue could be time-consuming, but it surely’s a free to low-cost solution to empower your self with the data and historical past of your new property’s authorized boundaries.

Discover A Property Survey On-line

Can’t make it to the courthouse? No worries, many native governments preserve property information on-line. To seek for your piece of land, you’ll want particular particulars in regards to the property you need to lookup. Collect as a lot info as you may, like the road tackle, boundary descriptions and date of the final survey, and search the official county or assessor’s web site the place the property is positioned.

The extra info you might have, the better it will likely be so that you can discover the survey you want. Not all information will probably be digitized, however the outcomes of your search could assist you slender down the precise workplace the place your survey is positioned. You may then name the workplace and ask if they’ll mail you a duplicate of the survey.

Geographical Data System (GIS) maps and property search websites are a greater possibility when you have restricted info in your property. Nonetheless, these websites typically cost a payment or require a subscription.

Contact The Earlier Surveyor

Land surveyors preserve copies of the property surveys they full. (Legally, the survey belongs to them.) If you already know the identify and make contact with info of the earlier land surveyor, attempt reaching out. It’s very seemingly that, for a payment, they’ll ship you a duplicate. Land surveys normally final 5 to 10 years after they’re accomplished, so if the earlier survey was finished a very long time in the past, it’s most likely a good suggestion to get a brand new one finished even in the event you find the official doc.


Getting ready for the Search

There are even better information sources than you

There are even higher info sources than your deed. The most effective (and generally most elusive) doc you may lay your palms on is the surveyor’s map, or plat. The plat interprets that authorized confusion of numbers and phrases on the deed into photos. It could additionally present references to pure landmarks, or triangulation knowledge which can find a selected level.

Plat-chasing is a significant pastime amongst surveyors. Your plat, if one exists, could accompany your deed. Or it might languish in metropolis or county information (clerks’ or surveyors’ places of work could be the perfect locations to look) or reside with a earlier proprietor. Plats of neighboring land are useful, too. They might present the situation of a typical boundary.

When you dwell in a subdivision or built-up space, chances are you’ll be questioning why your deed’s authorized description reads solely “Lot 22, Rock Creek Estates” or “Tract A, First Addition.” However these, too, are metes and bounds surveys. The surveyors created a number of tons without delay, in order that they drew one map of the entire thing. Deed descriptions merely check with the grasp plat, which you will see that within the public information.

You must also preserve a watch peeled for early variations of your property description, surveyor’s notes, and descriptions of roads that border your land. Why? First, to make sure that your deed doesn’t comprise errors; second, to seek out out all you may about boundary markers — the important thing to property strains.

You are actually practically able to step into the surveyor’s sneakers. First, although, you’ll have to collect your tools. You’ll want a compass, lengthy measuring tape, plumb bob, stage, hatchet, some ribbon, and stakes. You’ll additionally want a keen assistant. Now test your devices. Do they learn in the identical numbers because the survey? If not, you’ll have to translate.

Most individuals can have readily available the kind of compass that makes use of the directional measurement often called azimuth. Being ornery as a rule, surveyors use one other system, known as bearings. To learn to translate one to the opposite, see the top of the article part “Changing Azimuths to Bearings.”

On to distances. We measure lengths in ft and inches, don’t we? Effectively, the surveyor makes use of both ft and tenths of a foot (be very alert for this!) or a venerable system known as chains. Don’t panic at this. A sequence measures 66 ft. Why 66 ft? As a result of it’s handy for land computations. Ten sq. chains equal one acre — which suggests to compute acreage quickly, all it’s a must to do is use the variety of sq. chains, then transfer the decimal level as soon as to the left. Additionally, one mile stretches precisely 80 chains.

A hundredth of a series — about eight inches — is known as a hyperlink. Outdated-timers additionally used a quarter-chain measure (16-1/2 ft), calling it a rod, pole, or perch.

I discover that if I’m confronted with an outline written in bearings and chains when my tools reads in azimuths and ft, my mind reels on the prospect of translating and tramping about on the identical time. It’s much better to translate all of the levels and distances on paper earlier than you set out.

How do I rent a property surveyor?

Trying to find property surveyors in your space is likely one of the greatest methods to seek out firms to get the job finished.

“There’s a surveying society in every of the 50 states, all of that are affiliated with NSPS,” Sumner says. “Every of these societies has a web site, which is able to usually embrace a ‘Discover A Surveyor’ part.”

It may be cheaper to work with the earlier surveyor on the property, if potential, as a result of that surveyor can have maps and information already readily available. When you can’t find the prior surveyor, the subsequent neatest thing is to attempt to work with the surveyor who assessed the properties subsequent door.

Don’t be afraid to ask your title firm or lender for suggestions, too.

You must also take the time to query your potential surveyor. Discuss your wants beforehand to ensure they’ll fulfill the necessities. Test that the surveyor is licensed to observe within the state the place the property is positioned, Sumner advises.

Be conscious of how a lot time it takes to finish a survey. Wooll says property surveys can normally be accomplished inside per week, but it surely may take as much as three, relying on the corporate.

Sumner says there’s no solution to decide precisely how lengthy it’ll take to finish a survey since there are such a lot of variables to think about, together with the standard and availability of property information, resembling deeds.

Why are property surveys vital?

Whereas property surveys aren’t required in every single place, they’re in lots of jurisdictions throughout the nation. That’s as a result of they element how your property is outlined in an official capability. Relatively than guessing the place your property strains are, you might have a doc that makes it clear.

Emory Wooll, normal supervisor of Title Companions of South Florida, says property surveys are required for lender title insurance coverage insurance policies.

“So as (for a title insurance coverage coverage to be issued), we have to know if there are any encroachments on the property previous to closing,” Wooll says. “They’re normally finished earlier than a house buy, or, say, somebody is placing a pool in or a fence.”

Wooll says cities or contractors would require a survey earlier than permits could be pulled. So in the event you’re hoping to construct a pool in your yard, you’ll want a latest survey accomplished. Whereas there’s an opportunity you could possibly use an previous survey to tug permits, it’s not all the time assured. In that case, chances are you’ll need to get a brand new survey accomplished.

The Dwelling Property Survey: Know Your Land

So what have you ever achieved? Quite a bit. When you discovered some corners, you could have staved of a boundary battle along with your neighbor. Present her or him what you’ve discovered, so that you’ll agree. Then paint a number of timber or pile rocks across the spot so it doesn’t go to weeds. Don’t power your grandkids to undergo the identical search.

Even in the event you didn’t flip up any corners, your time hasn’t been wasted. You’ve most likely dug up some helpful previous information, and that’s half of what you’d pay an actual surveyor for.

Find Hidden Property Pins

Survey pins are skinny iron bars, 2 or 3 ft lengthy and generally capped with plastic, which the unique survey crew inserted on the property strains. When you’ve got entry to a metal detector, transfer the system over the bottom alongside the sidewalk to the curb to find the survey pin. Pins could also be buried slightly below the floor, or as much as a foot beneath. Just a few days earlier than you dig, nonetheless, you have to name 811, the free, federally designated quantity that may route you to your native utility firm. Ask the utility firm to return out and mark any buried strains so that you don’t unintentionally hit one. There’s no cost for this service, however in the event you harm a buried utility line, you could possibly find yourself having to pay to restore it.


Dig Out Your Deed for Further Data

In older neighborhoods, property homeowners could have bought or offered off parts of their yards. Finding a survey pin gained’t offer you this info, however the newest authorized description recorded in your deed will record any such changes. When you don’t have a duplicate of your deed filed along with your home-owner information, get one on the register of deeds workplace, typically positioned inside your county courthouse.

The right way to Discover Property Traces for Free

Home-owner’s Deed

A house owner’s deed ought to embrace a authorized description of the plot of land, together with its measurements, form, block and lot quantity, and different identifiers resembling landmarks and geographical options. If the language is hard, attain out to your actual property lawyer or agent for assist in deciphering it.

A Tape Measure

If you wish to visually affirm your property strains, you should utilize a tape measure to find out the boundaries. From a recognized level detailed within the deed’s description, measure to the property’s edge and place a stake at that time as a marker.

In spite of everything the perimeters have been decided, measure the gap between the stakes. Evaluate the outcomes to ensure they match the corresponding deed or plat.

Current Property Survey from Mortgage or Title Firm

Most mortgage lenders require potential householders to have a present survey, and your title insurance coverage additionally is determined by it. When you purchased your own home not too long ago however don’t have the survey, contact both firm to see if they’ve a duplicate on file.

Current Property Survey from County or Native Municipality

A property’s historical past and legalrecords are usually stored within the municipality or county’s tax assessor’s workplace or in its land information or constructing division. You may normally start your search by going surfing to entry the related property information. Most municipalities supply this info free of charge, however some places of work could require a small payment or ask that you just entry the information in particular person.

Buried Pins

On the corners of your property, you might be able to discover metal bars which have been buried, generally nonetheless seen, with a marked cap on the highest finish. These had been seemingly positioned in your land when a survey was accomplished. When you can’t readily see the pins (they might have been buried over time), use a steel detector that can assist you find them.

Whereas this isn’t a legally binding solution to decide your property strains, it gives you a good suggestion of the boundaries. Warning: Earlier than you begin digging, name 811, the nationwide call-before-you-dig hotline, to request the situation of buried utilities you don’t need to inadvertently dig into an underground utility line.

Use an App

Obtain an app like LandGlide that makes use of GPS to find out a parcel’s property strains. LandGlide is free for the primary seven days.


Contact your state’s surveyors affiliation when you find the license variety of the unique surveyor. For instance, in California, you may lookup a surveyor by identify or license quantity on the web site for the CLSA, or California Land Surveyors Affiliation.


When buying property, rent a surveyor to do a present analysis. Don’t depend on an previous property survey offered by the proprietor, as a result of it might not embrace latest adjustments to the property that may have an effect on the use and worth.

Warning Most lenders is not going to honor a survey whether it is greater than six months previous.


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