What is a Property Survey?
A property survey essentially provides a detailed map of a particular piece of land. These surveys can take one of several forms from a basic “drive-by” to an intricate survey which details everything about the property.
Basic property surveys typically only locate the major structures of a property such as the house and any other structures, for example, barns, sheds, dedicated garages, etc.
More involved surveys obviously contain additional information. These surveys normally include everything from precisely defining the property boundaries to locating features of the land such as streams, roads and elevation changes.
It also includes any old or new buildings built on the property and the location of all utilities. These surveys are compared with existing records for consistency.
Also to establish exact land acreage and value as well as to mitigate any land disputes.
Do You Need a Property Survey?
Whether you’re purchasing a new home, making an addition to your existing property, or building a new home on a piece of property, then obtaining a property survey makes sense.
Prior to buying a new home, an accurate property survey details all the easements and right-of-ways associated with the property. The homeowner knows up front whether an alley is shared with a neighbor, who can park in certain locations or the easements used by the utility companies.
For the existing homeowner who wants make a renovation or addition to their property, a survey will prevent the landowner from improperly locating a new addition on the wrong parcel of land. This prevents the unnecessary expense of building, then removing, then rebuilding the same structure on the correct parcel.
When building a new home, obtaining a property survey also makes sense. By locating the precise dimensions of your property, you won’t accidentally build your house on someone else’s land.
Think something like that can’t happen? It has!
An incorrect property survey missed the mark by almost half a mile. As a unfortunate result, an entire home was built on a piece of property they didn’t own.
Locating Underground Utilities
One of the challenges of a property survey is precisely locating the underground utilities: water, sewer, electrical and telecommunication, etc. Often, construction crews attempt to locate them using an older, perhaps incorrect survey of the land.
In doing so, these crews run the risk of damaging or destroying these utilities by mechanically digging in the wrong location. This adds unnecessary costs, delays and safety concerns to the project.
More recently, the use of closed-circuit TV (CCTV) combined with a more precise and non-destructive excavation technique has become the preferred way to locate underground utilities. Called vacuum excavation, it uses high-pressure water to loosen soil and sediment, then removing it using a vacuum hose.
This technique precisely locates and exposes the utilities in a non-destructive manner. Whether you’re a current homeowner, landowner or prospective home buyer, obtaining a property survey first can save you both time and money.
The minor cost of a survey, relative to the potential expenses incurred after construction was completed, is well worth the peace of mind.
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