Many people don’t know precisely where their property’s boundaries are. Even if surveys had been done on the property at one time, they may be lost during times when the property has changed hands.
The importance of a property line survey arises at certain situations. For example, when a disgruntled neighbor complains about “your” property, when you disagree that it’s “their” property. Or if you want to build something on your land and need to make sure it doesn’t violate any boundary issues or other laws.
Situations Where Land Surveys Are Recommended
- Building. New construction should never begin without getting a land survey of the property. There are legal requirements in some areas that mandate the property to have a certain distance between, say a garage and the property line.
There are also some that have part of the land reserved for the use of neighborhood associations or utilities. That means that even though the landowners must care for that portion of the property, they cannot build permanent structures on it.
- Land Purchase or Sale. Most mortgage companies will require a land survey before authorizing funding. Even if they don’t, it’s still wise to get one. An official survey benefits both the buyer and seller, as it ensures the deed has the proper information. It helps avoid last-minute disputes on the boundaries, and possibly a negated contract.
- Boundary Disputes. Many disagreements arise between neighbors on where legal property boundary lines are. Who is responsible for removing the dead tree? Why is my new neighbor complaining that my garden is on his property? Why do I have to tear down my shed because the power company needs to dig there? These can only be resolved through a professional land survey.
- Borderline Structures. If you or your neighbor wants to erect a fence or wall along the property line, a survey can help determine where to build it. If you are sharing the cost of the structure, it can straddle your property line. If not, it needs to be built solely on your property.
- New Subdivision Parcels. New development sometimes involves dividing larger parcels of land into smaller areas. A survey is required to ensure that the new development meets local codes for building permits.
What Is a Property Line Survey and How Is It Done?
A land survey is a drawing that shows exactly where the boundaries of a property are. A survey will also lay out the dimensions and location of any buildings or other site improvements on the property.
There are various methods of surveying land based on the size and shape of the property and the type of legal description that’s available.
Why Hire a Professional Surveyor
Professional land surveyors are the only people trained and licensed to make property line determinations. If you need a legal document proving boundary lines and other property features, you need to hire a licensed land surveyor.
If there is already an existing land survey on the property, you can request it from your local government office; interpreting it is another story. These documents are very complex. A professional land surveyor is probably the only one who can understand everything in it. Actually surveyors are the only ones who can understand these documents.
Surveyors cannot just arbitrarily modify the square footage. Their decisions are based on the historical statistics on the property. They compare the historical data with existing markers and their professional decisions are a part of the permanent official property record.
Sometimes your property markers are hidden or even buried. A professional surveyor has the sophisticated tools and knowledge to be able to trace them, where an amateur may be at a loss as to where they are located.
Don’t assume that you can use a simple GPS device (like what’s included on your smart phone) can accomplish the same results. Professionals use the latest technology that ensures precision within one-centimeter accuracy. Consumer-grade GPS tools have an accuracy level of 15-20 feet. That’s a lot of room for error!
Don’t make the mistake of trying to do the job yourself and regretting it later. Get the professional land survey that will legally document your property’s boundaries once and for all.