There are many different types of land surveys that engineers and surveyors perform on commercial and residential properties, but some are more common than others. The three most common are a boundary survey, a topographic survey and an ALTA survey. When you know the differences between these types, you can better understand what is required for your project and choose the proper survey for your needs.
A land development civil engineer will use physical markers and property deeds to conduct a boundary survey before a property is purchased or improved. This type of survey is beneficial when adding a fence or expanding your building’s footprint because it will help keep you from accidentally building over the line and into the neighbor’s land.
In a topographic survey, the locations and dimensions of both natural landmarks and manmade structures on a piece of land are recorded. These can include utilities, roads and bodies of water. This type of survey can help you plan the locations of new structures on your property and point out potential problems with flooding and grading.
ALTA stands for American Land Title Association, and a survey of this type is designed to give you, the lender and the title company the information needed for ALTA insurance policies. This is typically done before purchasing or selling commercial real estate and is similar to a mortgage survey performed on residential properties. These two surveys will typically cover existing structures, property boundaries and verifying property and title owners. They will also confirm that the property complies with building and zoning codes.
While there are many different types of land surveys that you may need for buying or building on real estate, the most common are boundary, topographical, and ALTA/Mortgage surveys. Knowing the differences between these surveys can help you choose the right one for your needs and understand some of the legal requirements surrounding your project.