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What Is A Property Survey And Where Can You Get One?

Emma Tomsich4-Minute Read
October 19, 2022

As a home buyer, the last thing you want to be involved with is a property dispute with your new neighbors. To avoid this situation and be a good neighbor, consider getting a property survey.

A property survey is one of the most important things to have done when you’re buying a home or building an addition onto your current one. Let’s talk about what a property survey is, why it’s so important and where you can get one.

What Is A Property Survey?

A property survey, also referred to as a boundary or home survey, is a precise, professional measurement used to determine or validate the plot of land a home is built on. Property surveys are important for knowing property lines or building additions to your home, so you can avoid any restrictions or conditions that would interfere with the legal boundaries of the described property.

While many jurisdictions require a property survey be done, they’re not mandatory everywhere. Nonetheless, it can be beneficial to have an official document detailing your land’s boundaries in the case of neighborly property line disputes or other inconveniences.

Many lenders and title companies also require a property survey upon a home purchase to make sure there are no encroachments on the property before title insurance is issued to the home buyer.

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Types of Property Surveys

Let’s take a look at the different types of property surveys and distinguish what sets them apart from each other.

Land Surveys

Land surveying is the basic process used to confirm property lines on a parcel of land. They’re conducted by land surveyors to identify and evaluate existing man-made structures, elevations, natural features and boundaries on a property. Land surveys are crucial for protecting property rights and preparing for land development.

Topographic Surveys

Topographic surveys illustrate the property’s plane and elevation of the land in addition to boundaries. It looks for features that include ditches, embankments and contours in the roads. Topographic surveys are usually required in the event of requested road improvements.

Monumentation Surveys

A monumentation survey is needed when adding a fence to your property. This type of survey is conducted by placing markers on the surveyed area to establish the boundaries. From there, the fence can be more accurately placed and built.

As-Built Surveys

An as-built survey determines property lines, as well as areas where improvements can be made. For example, an as-built survey could point out flaws or imperfections in the driveways or sidewalks. An as-built survey will also include ways to fix or improve these issues.

Mortgage Surveys

Mortgage surveys are similar to as-built surveys, in that the survey covers all of the land to be mortgaged. Therefore, the final survey will distinguish the property lines as defined for what will be covered in the mortgage.

Floodplain Surveys

Floodplain surveys show areas that are in flood zones. This type of survey can be beneficial for homeowners living in areas that are more prone to strong rainfalls and floods.

How To Get A Property Line Survey

In order to have a property line survey conducted, you must hire a professional land surveyor to measure out your property.

In addition to measuring the physical boundaries of the property, a land surveyor will also research the property’s history and legal description regarding things like subdivisions, easements and ecological restrictions.

How To Find A Survey Of Your Property Online

As a homeowner, you can view your property’s survey records by visiting your official county recorder or assessor’s office or website, which should have public maps for all of the real estate in the area. Your property lines can also be found through any online search engine on geographic information system (GIS) maps, or you can view property lines on interactive online maps.

How To Read A Property Survey

After you choose what property survey you want and have it conducted, it’s time for you to interpret and understand what the property survey says. Some homeowners struggle with this step, so we’re going to give you some tips.

First, find the compass on the survey and locate the “north” arrow to approximate your property’s location on the ground.

Next, locate the legend on the survey that explains what certain symbols on the map mean. For example, this can include features such as land monuments, structures and easements.

After you understand the legend, look for the starting point, or “the point of beginning,” and trace the different segments of the land from there. Some surveys will specifically identify this point for you.

Finally, follow the numbers and letters that indicate the direction from North and the distance between points.

Take a look at some images of official property surveys to get a better idea of what you’ll be looking at.

How To Survey Your Own Property

While only a professional home survey will be accepted for property records, you can find your property’s boundary lines yourself by reading the plat that’s included with your property’s paperwork or finding it online. Your property deed should also contain a worded description of your land’s boundaries. With newer properties, you can even walk round and look for boundary markers like stakes or flags.

How Much Does A Property Survey Cost?

The cost of a property survey varies based on what type of survey is needed, along with the size, history and location of the property. On average, a property boundary survey can cost anywhere from $100 – $600. A mortgage survey, for example, has an average cost of $500. Typically, a property with more complex features or records history will come with a higher surveying cost.

To save on costs that come with property surveys, you can request a copy of a previous survey that was done on the property, though this service will still have a fee.

The Bottom Line

As a homeowner, it can be beneficial to have a property survey if you decide to build, remodel or compare property lines with your neighbor. There are many types of property surveys you can choose, but make sure to pick the one required for your specific situation and property.

Having a property survey will benefit you in the long run, and prevent disputes from occurring. If you’re planning on adding a fence or a shed, or buying a new home altogether, familiarize yourself with your legal boundaries and learn how close to your property line you can build.

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Emma Tomsich

Emma Tomsich is a student at Marquette University studying Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations. She has a passion for writing, and hopes to one day own her own business. In her free time, Emma likes to travel, shop, run and drink coffee.