Basics of a Land Survey or Boundary Survey

Both land surveying and boundary surveying dates back in ancient history to the Egyptians who surveyed farm sites along the Nile River.

Boundary Surveying Today

boundary surveying

Surveying is used for many reasons today.  Land surveying or boundary surveying is done to establish a specific location of a parcel of land along with its exact acreage.  It is used to determine the boundaries of an area of ownership.

It is also used to identify a piece of property by a written legal description or to provide a review of the accuracy of an existing description. This data is of the utmost importance with regard to buying and selling land, and is also used to insure a clear title to the land.Here’s a little more about boundary surveying.

There are many different kinds of surveys that can be performed. Boundary surveying is typically done for undeveloped land. A lot survey or closing survey is typically done to re-establish the boundary of a previously established parcel of land. 

These types of surveys measure the actual physical extent of the property in question. Most surveys progress through the basic procedures regardless of the type being done.

Any pertinent deeds, contracts, maps or other documents that contain a description of the property’s boundaries are located, studied and interpreted. A determination is made of what the actual property description says, along with the locations of any physical evidence of the boundaries.

This can be in the form of both natural and man-made monuments or markers that exist in the field. The property is then measured to establish the boundary, not only using the appropriate existing monuments but with setting new markers where necessary.

Measurements are accomplished using a total station and other surveying tools. A total station measures both vertical and horizontal angles, as used in triangulation networks. After these steps are accomplished, the property description and plat are prepared.

Boundary Surveying: Interpreting results

Interpreting the results of boundary surveying is not as difficult as it may first seem. For instance, a property plat will usually contain a directional orientation which is typically indicated with an arrow pointing north.It will contain the bearing and distance of each boundary line, the property lines of other properties shown on the plat, and the names of adjacent property owners listed in the areas of their property.

Corner monuments, along with the names of any natural monuments (such as “Smith’s Creek”, for example) or a brief description of any unnamed natural monuments (such as the “30-inch oak tree”) are on the plat.

There is also a title block containing the property’s location and owner name, the land surveyor’s name and license number, the date the survey was performed, the scale of the plat and any other relevant data.

Boundary Surveying Services

For a free boundary surveying quote, call Chelsea Land Surveying at (205) 618-8876 or visit our contact page to send us a message. 

What Is A Land Surveyor?

land surveyor

Land Surveyor: Definition

A land surveyor is a professional person with the academic qualifications and technical expertise to measure and plot the lengths and directions of boundary lines and the dimensions of any portion of the earth’s surface (including natural and other structures.) That definition is quite a mouthful, but in actuality the field of surveying (geomatics) includes many other facets.

For the home-owner the land surveyor is the person who locates the boundary of your property and the location of your home within that boundary to determine if there are any encroachments by your neighbors onto you or vice versa. Common encroachments are fences, driveways, etc.

Alabama Land Surveyor

Land surveyors in the United States are regulated and licensed by the various state governments. In Alabama, the Alabama State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (www.bels.state.al.us) was established in 1935 to protect the public by helping “to safeguard life, health, and property, and to promote the public welfare by providing for the licensing and regulation of persons in the practices of engineering and land surveying.

This purpose is achieved through the establishment of minimum qualifications for entry into the professions of engineering and land surveying, through the adoption of rules defining and delineating unlawful or unethical conduct, and through swift and effective discipline for those individuals or entities who violate the applicable laws or rules.”

As of 2007, a newly licensed land surveyor is required to have a four year degree in surveying or a closely related field and an additional four to eight years of on-the-job training under a licensed land surveyor.

Licensed Land Surveyors are also required to maintain and update their professional knowledge and skills by attending 15 hours of continuing education each year.

In preparation for a typical lot or mortgage survey of your house, a land surveyor may review tax maps, aerial maps, deeds, subdivision plats, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations and possibly flood maps.

For a typical lot survey the subdivision plat is the most important of these because it gives the exact dimensions of your lot and the relative location of your property corners. The surveyor uses this to locate and/or re-establish your property corners.

In the field the survey crew will find the property corners along with some of your neighbors corners if yours can’t be found, measure the distances and angles between all of the points, locate all improvements on your property, including your house, pool, out-buildings, retaining walls, fences, driveways and sidewalks, etc.

Other improvements like sanitary sewer mains, storm drainage ways, overhead power lines and the like are located because these might indicate an easement across the property. The plat should show these, but they don’t in all cases. We’ll talk about easements in a later article.

Once all of the field information is gathered, the chief land surveyor takes the field notes and prepares a preliminary sketch of the work. This is passed along to a draftsperson who prepares the final drawing for your use. The draftsperson will check all of the maps mentioned earlier to make sure that all building setback lines and easements are shown on the drawing.

The surveyed distances and directions are compared to the plat distances and directions also. Any discrepancies or encroachments are shown on the drawing. Your attorney uses the drawing to determine if any other legal work is needed during the closing.

The mortgage company or bank uses the survey to insure they are loaning you money on the correct property (in case they end up owning it. Yikes)

So now, what do you have for your money. You have a drawing which shows your house on your lot. You should have stakes and/or flagging by all of your property corners. Make sure you know where they are located.

The actual corner is marked by an iron pin or pipe of some sort. (The type of monument should be shown on your survey drawing.) You might also want to take a look for them at least once a year to make sure they’re still there.

For a land surveyor at Chelsea,AL and surrounding areas, call us at (205) 618-8876 or send us a message by going here.