When performing a boundary survey, legal lines of land ownership are determined by either finding existing boundary corner "pins" and/or determining positions based from local evidence to set new boundary corner markers. Upon completion, all geometric boundary terminus points are marked and flagged with standard 4' wooden survey stakes or painted when lying on impervious surfaces such as driveways/sidewalks. Typically in wooded lots, survey flagging is placed on nearby vegetation to assist the client in finding the boundary corners of their parcel.
A boundary survey can also include the location and mapping of fixed substantial "real" improvements to the land for various purposes such as a title survey (mortgage/loan survey), design survey or permitting purposes. Mapping of fixed improvements (if any are present on the land) is not required for some boundary surveys, however, substantial features that connote ownership or are in the near vicinity a boundary line or cross a boundary line (such as fences/hedge rows/gardens etc) must be measured and shown on the final survey map per Florida Statutes. Evidence of utilities (such as power poles, overhead wires, gas line makers, valves etc.) and apparent evidence of ingress/egress (including but not limited to waterways, vehicular traffic, livestock crossings, pedestrian traffic etc) should also be shown on a boundary survey. Matters such as these may affect title and can be a concern of a landowner. Non-visible, underground improvements (if any exist) are generally not shown on a survey unless requested specifically by the client. This may necessitate the excavation or marking of underground improvements by a third party such that the surveyor can accurately plot the underground items on the final boundary survey map.
Typically, a mortgage survey (or sometimes referred to as a title or loan survey) will include a boundary survey, paired with the location of fixed improvements (see above) prior to a lender approving a loan. Lenders will sometimes require that a survey of the property be performed to check for title issues, encroachments or any other physical matters that may jeopardize their interests in the loan. Lenders rely on surveyors to report their findings of location, dimension and proximity of realty to help protect their interest in a loan.
A topographic survey is a study of the elevation of a parcel of land for various purposes. Gathering topographic information can reveal drainage patterns, flooding areas and volumetric information necessary to calculate cut or fill quantities of earth for a given design. It may be necessary prior to designing a roadway or building to determine the high and low areas of a parcel such that the position of proposed features can be safely determined and not inhibit surface water flow or cause structural flooding.
When planning or designing proposed features within a parcel of land, it may be necessary to perform a tree location survey. Tress of a specified diameter or larger (or by specific species) can be plotted onto a boundary or topographic survey for clearing or planning purposes. It may be helpful in the design process to know where larger shade trees are versus the location of smaller trees. Some counties such as Alachua, require that an inventory map of trees be made prior to clearing such that impact fees can be determined.
Prior to construction, it may be required by your local municipality or governmental agency to submit a "site plan" or layout plan of proposed features such as buildings or driveways. A site plan will show dimensions of proposed features in relation to boundary lines, easements, setback lines or other matters of concern. Once a site plan has been approved, it may be necessary to have the proposed features measured or "staked" such that they will be constructed precisely at their proposed location per the approved site plan. As of current, some counties such as Polk, do not require a surveyor to issue a site plan or boundary survey prior to construction. Building without a site plan or boundary survey can lead to very expensive mistakes.
Once design plans have been completed and approved by an engineer, it may be necessary to rely on a surveyor to provide layout marks or stakes such that proposed features can be built accurately and according to plan. This can include structures, roadways, underground utilities, fences, sidewalks, storm runoff systems or other substantial features. Layout is only to be performed based on plans approved by a professional engineer or architect or only per the written and documented supervision of a landowner or contractor as to mitigate liabilities that a surveyor faces in performing layout work.
Typically a form board survey is required by a lender who is funding construction of a new structure. Prior to pouring a concrete foundation, form boards are checked and measured to determine that they are in the correct location with regard to setbacks, easements and boundary lines. Generally, the original boundary survey is revised and updated to reflect to the location and relative dimensions of the form boards with respect to the boundary lines. Upon certification by the surveyor and approval of the lender, funding will be released for the pouring of the concrete foundation. Upon completion of the foundation and remainder of the structural elements (including driveways/pads/walkways), a lender may require that a final survey be performed to ensure that the construction is completed and in the correct location. This also helps to ensure that all boundary markers have been properly reset if they were disturbed during construction and to ensure that the new homeowners understand the extents of their land.
In some instances, it is necessary to determine and certify elevations of existing or proposed dwellings or other structures for flood insurance purposes. If a structure lies within specific flood zone areas, a lender may require that flood insurance be purchased unless it has been determined by a surveyor that the structure is above a specific flood elevation. To see if your structure lies within a flood hazard area, visit www.FEMA.gov and enter your property address. Further information, together with a blank flood elevation certificate form can be found within the"LINKS" section of this website under the "Survey Forms" portion.
Prior to a roadway expansion or utilities extension project, it may be necessary to perform a route survey along rights-of-way for planning purposes. Route surveys are generally necessary for governmental agencies to determine the location of existing features and boundaries, such that new features can be planned accordingly.
When larger tracts of land are divided into smaller parcels by a developer or landowner, it is generally required by municipalities or governmental agencies that a subdivision map be prepared known as a "Plat". Each county has specific land development regulations (LDR's) as to how many times an original parcel of land can be divided before it is required that a plat map be prepared. Platting involves performing a boundary survey of the original tract, together with an abstract of title. Once a subdivision design has been approved, it is required that all property corners and survey reference markers be placed prior to having the plat officially recorded. Platting is typically a slow process given the nature of the requirements, procedures and approvals that most governmental agencies require. Creating a new plat can can typically require months to finalize.
Many industries depend on surveyors to perform large scale measurements such that reliable volumes can be computed. Mining operations, earthwork contractors and engineers rely on volumetric information to compute costs and/or haul quantities. Varying factors such as density, compaction or moisture content can adversely influence the accuracy of volumetric quantities. These factors must be considered prior to contracting or conducting any field measurements.
ALTA is an acronym for "American Land Title Association", who, in conjunction with the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), have unified a nationally standardized type of survey specifically for title and boundary purposes. A key component of an ALTA survey is a "Table-A" options form. This form consists of specific, negotiable survey options that a surveyor and client can use to clearly communicate the expectations of the survey. A link to a blank "Table-A" form can be found in the "LINKS" section of this website under the "survey forms" portion.
In order to gain the full benefit of an ALTA survey, a title commitment policy is utilized to disclose known title matters such that any encumbrances or easements that affect the parcel can be graphically plotted on the final survey map. It is useful to title companies to have an all-inclusive map showing fixed features with respect to easements or other matters.
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