Thursday, April 16, 2009

Land Surveys 101

To survey or not to survey, that is often the question. Whether purchasing or selling land you should consider whether to have your property surveyed. It is often helpful, if the boundaries are unclear or if there is not a recent survey of a property to have a survey performed of your land. In Alabama, only licensed engineers and registered surveyors may perform a survey. To find a licensed surveyor in your area, please refer to the following website for the Alabama Board of Licensure for Engineers and Surveyors:

There are generally 3 types of surveys from which to choose, so you must choose which option best suits your needs.

1. Marking the corners only-This is generally the cheapest option, and involves a surveyor marking the property boundaries only. The surveyor will generally drive a stake or place some marker only at the corner boundaries of the property.

2. Marking the corners and painting lines- This is probably the most common idea people have of surveys. Timber companies or National forestlands are often marked with painted boundary markers on trees. This is easy to follow through the woods, and definitively marks the lines all the way around a property. This survey is generally about 1/3 to 1/2 again as expensive as merely marking the corners. In most cases you must request having the lines painted, so be sure to ask the surveyor about that.

3. Marking the corners, all structures and easements- This survey not only includes marked corners and painted lines, but the paper copy of the survey also details all existing structures and easements. This is helpful for identifying utility easements, roadways, who owns that old barn or fence, the 100 year flood plain, and a million other possible scenarios. Having all of these details on paper can be extremely helpful, but it can also be pricey. This is typically twice as much or more than a basic survey. If you are purchasing land that you know nothing about, this might be a good option for you.

I generally recommend having a survey performed if there are any questions about the property boundaries. This provides clarity and peace of mind. If you are selling property, it also makes the deal go more smoothly and quickly when you can show the prospective buyer a map from a licensed surveyor.


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