You've been working with a client for quite some time. All the while, they've hemmed and hawed about whether they want to buy an existing property or attempt to build their own. Now, they've made their decision: They want to build, and it's up to you to help them find a proper location.
To do that, you'll need to conduct land surveys. Perhaps you haven't worked with someone building a home before. Or perhaps it's been a while and the information is rusty. But you may find yourself wondering, what is a land survey, and what types of surveys do you need to conduct? Here's what you need to know.
First, What Is a Land Survey?
Land surveys, in simplest terms, are measurements of a given piece of property. A land survey company identifies, makes note of, and cross-references the boundaries and features on a given parcel of land.
Ideally, a land survey would have already occurred when a parcel of land entered the marketplace. However, we do not live in an ideal world, and you may need to pay for a land survey of your own before your clients or construction groups can start building.
Understanding the Different Types of Land Survey
Now that we've re-established what land surveys are, let's discuss the different land survey types in greater detail. When you have a piece of land surveyed, some of the common surveys conducted include, but are not limited to:
A boundary survey locates and maps out the corners and boundary lines for a piece of land or existing property. This type of survey often requires both field and record research, as the property lines aren't always apparent at a first glance. This may take some computational wizardry to get the property lines to comply with local laws.
Detail surveys catalog all the features on a parcel of land, natural and manmade. This includes rock formations, bodies of water, trees, ditches, and other structures. If you want more information on what a detail survey entails, you can visit our friends at Canada Surveyors for more!
A location survey works similarly to a boundary survey, in that it provides details about the boundaries and lines of a property. However, it focuses more on the location of any interior improvements to the land. You'll most often encounter this type of survey when handing a zoning permit or a loan application.
As a real estate agent, you'll most likely deal with a mortgage survey in the course of your work. You may also hear mortgage surveys referred to as title surveys. They're usually requested by banks, mortgage financiers, and title companies. Their purpose is to ensure that no trespassing has occurred on any adjacent property owners.
These types of land surveys also verify that the property meets local zoning laws and building codes. They can also track the locations of trees on the parcel of land.
A construction survey is a type of land survey that marks any utilities, walls, roads, or other buildings inside a construction project. This type of survey also stakes out the grading and slope of a property. This staking can help construction workers better navigate the site and implement the needed improvements.
If your client wants to build a home along a coastline, you'll need to consider looking at a geodetic survey. This type of survey maps out the coastline or shoreline of a piece of land.
Wetlands Delineation and Location Surveys
This is another survey to consider having done if your client wants to live in a coastal area or an area with known wetlands. This type of survey determines the boundaries of the wetlands and draws the lines where construction may take place without encroaching upon them.
Why You Need to Conduct Land Surveys
Now that you have a clearer understanding of some of the types of land surveys you may need to use, let's discuss why they're needed. Hiring a land survey service might seem like a trivial concern, especially when property already exists on the land. However, whether you're building something new on a site or re-examining an old one, land surveys are important because:
They Eliminate Confusion Over Property Lines
Imagine that your client, as part of their dream home, wants to build a massive privacy fence in their yard. If you neglect to survey the land or cross-reference previous surveys, they may build their fence too close to the property line. If that happens, they may be fined or forced to take it down, incurring greater expenses.
Property lines also help to determine whose responsibility it is to handle any unclaimed foliage or other property elements that the owner didn't explicitly install. With clear property lines, no one's confused over who has to trim or cut down that overgrown tree.
They Ensure Any Buildings Comply With Local Laws
Many land survey types we mentioned above determine the legality of various buildings. They ensure the building complies with local zoning laws and that any internal features are up to code. The last thing you want is for you or your client to encounter legal issues and fines for violating those laws.
Surveys Map Out What Features May Need Adjusting
Lastly, it's important to survey the land before you start any construction project as there may be some features that need adjusting. The grade of the land may need to be evened out before construction can begin. If the land seems weak, the foundation may need reinforcement to prevent the home from crumbling. Land surveys can let you get ahead of these issues.
Once the Surveying Is Done, What's Next?
So, you've completed all the necessary land surveys to help your client get the home of their dreams. What's next? If you need more information to walk your clients through the building or buying process, then check out our blog! We update each day with more helpful real estate content like this!