Monday, 10 December 2018
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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

Everything You Need to Know About Land Surveying

Written by Posted On Sunday, 10 December 2017 18:55

Land surveying may not be the most glamourous part of buying property, but it is by far one of the most important. Land surveying allows you to understand your land boundaries. This isn't always as black and white as it appears on your property map. In fact, your property map may not even be accurate. Hence, land surveying.

Who completes the land survey?

Professionals. Land surveyors are trained to use an intricate combination of law, math, engineering and physics to work out and establish property boundaries. They don't just head out there with a divining rod and an abacus, either. They use specialised equipment like GPSs, 3D scanners, prisms, software, radios and robotic total stations to get the job done right.

Why survey land?

First, it is required by law before you can build on property. Even if you are buying a property with no plans of construction in mind, you will want to have your land surveyed so you know exactly where your boundaries of ownership lie; you'll know what's yours, and what's not. A land surveyor will detail the exact boundaries of your land, using natural boundaries (e.g. a stream or rock formation) or artificial boundaries (i.e. a boundary set in a written document).

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Because you are getting an extremely accurate account of your land size, getting a land survey is also a solid idea you are thinking of putting a property up for sale, since it will help you understand exactly how much property you are selling. This will obviously impact your asking price.

Do I need a land survey?

Like we said, if you are building, yes. In real estate transactions, no. But again, they are useful and can clear up a lot of confusion and prevent potential property dispute problems down the road.

Other times you'd be well-advised to get a survey -- or flat out need to get a survey -- include:

- When you are seeking financing. Sometimes a lender will require that you get a survey so they have as much information as possible on their investment.
- When you are wanting to sell part of your land, or divide your land.
- When you are doing a major addition or renovation.

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How much does it cost to hire a land surveyor?

Like all professions, costs vary from company to company, and person to person. With land surveying, it will also depend on the property. Land surveyors can't necessarily predict how long it will take to collect information, or how difficult the survey will be. They don't just go out there and map out your property, after all. It also falls to land surveyors to find and consult city and county records, collect data from the field, do complex calculations, restore lost corners, and prepare accurate descriptions of the property.

The best land surveyors will also confirm the boundary descriptions of adjacent land in order to make sure the property boundaries are the same across the board. So, with all this in mind, the cost can vary widely. The average cost is around $500. Basic, one-sided boundary surveys can be as little as a couple hundred dollars, and a large-scale, complex case could cost over $1,000. It depends what you need, and the land you are surveying.

There are two time-tested adages in real-estate that have been forged by fire: first, location, location, location. The second: buyer beware. Where you are buying is just as important as knowing what, exactly, you are buying (or in some cases, selling). Investing in a land survey is an investment in your peace of mind, both now, and down the road. If you consider the costly legal battles and avoidable delays that can be caused by not getting one, fronting the time and money to get one in the beginning is due diligence that pays off.

Find out more about land surveying here:

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