The 9 Types of Property Surveys & What They Are For

The Types of Property Surveys & The Home Buying Process

When buying a home you’ll hear about property surveys.  Each type of property survey has a direct impact on the land and home you’re buying.  The information could include the history of the land, the topography, and the types of insurance and protections you’ll need if you buy it, build on it or invest in it.    

The 9 Types of Property Surveys Include:

  • Property line (also known as the boundary line survey) – These map out the lines of your property, how far your home is from the edge of the land, and this one is given to you by the title company.  
  • ALTA – This covers all characteristics and features of a survey.  
  • Location – These are done to help make sure that the property you are buying is properly zoned.  
  • Construction – These help to determine each of the structures that exist on the property.
  • As-built – This one will outline property lines and also determine where there could be flaws and ways to fix or improve on them.  These recommendations may include features that cross onto a neighbors property like a driveway.
  • Topographic – This one will help you to learn about the topography of your property.
  • Site-planning – These are performed to help determine the way to utilize the space whether it is for residential or commercial use, and how to design the plot of land.
  • Mortgage – This option will show the property lines as defined for what will be covered in a mortgage.
  • Sub division – these are used to help divide the land into smaller plots.

The most common property surveys are the location and the boundary line surveys.  They will more than likely be requested by the title company so be prepared to have them done.  The other types of property surveys are normally only requested under specific circumstances, so you probably do not need to worry about them.

Who Does Property Surveys?

Property surveys are typically done by the National Society of Surveying Professionals.  However the property surveying company you use does not always have to be associated with this organization. When selecting a title company, they’ll be able to recommend a property surveyor that they trust, so you know you’ll be in good hands. 

How Much Does a Property Survey Cost?

Property surveys can range from $100 to $1,000+.  It all depends on the history of the property, the structures that exist, and the type of survey you need done.  You are paying for the surveyor’s time, not a flat fee for a specific project.  

Where Can I Find Previous Property Surveys of My Home?

The title company who worked with you when you bought your home, or whomever sold you your title insurance policy will have access to any surveys done on the property.  That is where you should start. If nobody has a record, you may want to contact the closest title company to you and ask who they would recommend for a survey.  

Why Are Property Surveys Important And Which Do I Need?

Property surveys are important because they help you to determine what you own, what may become public property in specific situations, if you’re zoned properly, and to help settle land disputes with neighbors.  

Property line or boundary surveys are the most important and most common.  You need them to determine where and how far you can extend your home.  You’ll need to have one completed if you want to build a fence and need to know where the posts and border should be.  This survey also helps to settle arguments with neighbors if they feel you’re driveaway or the structures on your land cross over to their property.  With that said, the others are important too.

Floodplain and topographical property surveys will let you know if you should buy flood insurance, or what could potentially happen with a natural disaster.  Site planning will give you the information to properly design the space of your property whether you’re adding a pool, building an addition or tearing down a home and rebuilding it from scratch.  

Property surveys are an important part of buying a property and it can be risky to not have them done.  If your property is not zoned correctly, if you have the wrong structures, or if your structures cross over onto your neighbors property, you could have someone lay claim to your home or get fined.  That is why it is important to have them done. It is a peace of mind you won’t want to pass up.  

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