Land Surveying – How Do I Know if I Need A Land Survey?

Land surveying is needed for different reasons. It’s not inexpensive, but there’s also no other better way to protect your home and property than to hire a professional land surveyor.

Typically, the client is handed a copy of the survey drawing after the land surveying is done. Sometimes the drawing gets lost or misplaced. The land surveyor will typically keep a copy of the survey in his files.

Because land surveying can be costly (depending on a number of factors), people sometimes wonder if they can use the results of the last survey on their property again.

Generally, the answer to this varies per state but there are general guidelines:

First, it really depends on what kind of survey you had. There are different kinds of survey, each with different functions. A boundary survey, for instance, determines the boundary of a property while a flood elevation survey finds out if a certain property is at risk of flooding.

Because they were done to find different results, you cannot use the results of a flood elevation survey if you’re trying to find the boundaries of your property.

It also depends on how long ago the survey was done. Surveying pins that mark the boundary corners are made of permanent materials but that doesn’t mean they will always be where the surveyor put them. You’d be surprised at how these “move” over time. In most cases they’re just destroyed or disturbed. Sometimes your neighbor or kids can pull them up on purpose.

If the last survey was done 20 years ago, for instance, then you might want to have the property surveyed again, just to locate the corner monuments again. This will also identify if there have been any additional encroachments onto your property.

If you lost the copy of your survey, the first thing to do is to contact the surveyor who worked on your property. If you don’t know how to contact him, the stakes put around your property should have his license number on them. You can use this to get his name (if you don’t have it anymore), search for him online and then contact him to ask for a copy.

land surveying

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In some States, surveyors must file a copy of the survey with the county recorder. You can also go to them and check if they have a copy of the survey done on your property. If they do, it’s really not that hard to obtain a copy. But, you should know that this copy is only good as of the date of the survey, not later. As we’ve discussed the conditions change over time.

The last resort is to call another surveyor in your area. They may already be familiar with your property (from working around it) and they may be able to help you reach the surveyor you’re looking for. Some may even be able to assist you by calling around to find out which surveyor surveyed your property, and only charge you for the cost of their time. If all else fails, another new survey may be in order.

If you are considering adding a fence on your property, by all means, contact a surveyor. They will identify your corners so the fence can be placed within your boundary lines, and not too far within them.

If you are considering a home addition, contact a surveyor to find out how much room you have. Local surveyors will also be familiar with local zoning ordinances and can help you with knowing the building setbacks and easement locations on your property for planning purposes.

Surveyors can also draw a site plan showing the addition planned for your home. Then, when you’re ready to build, they can provide staking of the corners to insure they are placed in the correct location.

Finally, when you’re done, a surveyor can then prepare an as-built survey for your bank or mortgage company to insure them it was built in the correct location and doesn’t encroach on your neighbors.

For land surveying needs in Munford,AL and the surrounding areas, call Maxwell Land Surveying at 256-854-9503 or fill out our contact form.

The Land Surveying Process

There can be a dozen reasons why anybody would need land surveying. One of the most popular is to check the boundaries of a property, to determine if a property is prone to flooding (a certificate for this is usually required by insurance companies) and to subdivide a property, among others.

When someone learns or decides that they need to have their property surveyed, they don’t know where to begin. Because of that, we’d give you a simple guide on the land surveying process.

The first step is to hire a land surveyor. You can find a land surveyor in your area through searching it on the internet, looking it up on the Yellowpages or asking around. Be clear on what kind of services you need, and what you expect of the outcome.

Surveyors usually give price quotes free of charge, and being clear on what you need will help the surveyor give an accurate price quote.

Your surveyor might also ask you for documents like records of title, deeds and survey maps. These will help the surveyor find out necessary information about your property.

land surveying process

After signing a contract, your surveyor will proceed with the surveying itself. He will find more information about your property by going through County Clerk’s offices as well as other agencies.

He will also review the documents you provided to make sure that they are accurate. After all these pieces of information are gathered, your surveyor, along with a crew will perform a field survey on your property.

Depending on the type of survey that you need, they might start looking for physical evidences that may affect your property’s boundary. They might also look for stakes or monuments left by previous surveyors. Other tasks might also involve percolation testing and wetland delineation.

Once the results of the surveying are in, the surveyor will proceed with uploading them into a computer using specific software and then it will be drafted into a parcel. You will get a copy of the results of the surveying done from your land surveyor.

You can use this for future reference as well as evidences in case you have to bring a case (such as encroaching into your property) into court. For help on land surveying, give us a call at 256 854-9503 or send us a message through our contact form.

Land Surveying: The “Pincushion” Effect

land surveying

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Boundary monuments are an important part of land surveying. “Monuments” are what we call the objects used to mark the corners during a land survey to know where the property boundary lines are and the property begins and ends.

Monuments can be destroyed over time, usually by nature and not by man. Over time, the monuments that have been used have changed. Over the years, surveyors have used stones, all types of wooden posts (cedar, pine, oak), a gun barrel, a buggy axle, a live tree, or a running creek.

During the U.S. Public Land Survey, surveyors use marked wooden posts at the section corners (1 mile spacing) or at half-mile spacing within the 6 mile by 6 mile boundary of a township. Today most of the corner monuments set are iron or metal pipes or rods. Also, in most states, the surveyor is required to provide some kind of indication of who set the pin by placing a mark with their license or authorization number.

According to property law and the law of boundaries, there should only be one original land surveyor. Meaning, once a surveyor places land surveying monuments on a property, that should be respected at all times. The following surveyors should always follow the monuments put in place by the first surveyor. This is called “following in the steps of the original surveyor.” Further subdivision of a larger parcel of land can also be considered an original survey, but technically it is just a re-subdivision of a larger tract that was previously surveyed.

What the land surveying world is having a problem with is that a lot of following surveyors want to put their own land surveying monuments at a location where there are already corner monuments found. This is what we call the “pincushion effect”. Generally, people would see this as nothing but having two land surveyors who differ in opinion – not really a problem right?

Well, not really. Setting additional corner monuments will certainly bring into question the boundary location and cloud the picture. Of course, surveyors will never fully agree on the precise location of a corner but, in most cases, a found monument should be left alone and accepted.

Certainly if the found monument is “original” then it would control and there is no need for any further points to be placed. Surveying and the placement of property corners involves property law, measurement science, evidence interpretation, relevant experience, and then some professional judgement. This means that an exact answer is probably not usually known. BUT, there can be a best answer.

The addition of more “corner monuments” will also diminish the public’s view of the surveying profession. How would the public trust the land surveying industry when we can’t even have two land surveyors agree on results?

Because of pincushion dilemma, it is now a common perception that no two land surveyors can agree on the location of a given property corner. This is giving such a bad image to land surveyors, and this can give us even more problems in the future.

The land surveying industry is still in the process learning more about how to resolve this professional problem – through continuing education and through additional practice. A number of legal cases have been tried which lend to the resolution. One Alabama surveyor, Jeffery N. Lucas, also an attorney at law, is on the front line of getting to the bottom of this problem in our state. He has written a book about the different effects of these pin cushion corners that should be read and debated by all land surveyors practicing boundary surveying.

For your Land Surveying needs, give us a call at 256-854-9503 or send us a message by going here.