A Brief Guide to Land Surveying

What is Land Surveying?

Land surveying allows you to understand your land boundaries. A survey is performed in order to locate, describe, monument, and map the boundaries and corners of a parcel of land. It might also include the topography of the parcel, and the location of buildings and other improvements made to the parcel.

Who are Land Surveyors?

Professional land surveyors are trained to use an intricate combination of law, math, engineering, and physics to work out and establish property boundaries. They use specialized equipment like GPSs, prisms, software, radios and robotic total stations to complete the survey. In Ohio, only those professional land surveyors licensed by the State of Ohio Engineers and Surveyors Board are authorized to perform land surveys.

Why Have Land Surveyed?

As a property owner, you are able to have your property surveyed at any time but you will most likely hire a surveyor when you’re buying a home or constructing something. A survey ordered for property transfer in Ohio is known as a Mortgage Location Survey, which follows its own set of standards determined by the State of Ohio.

Even if you are buying a property with no plans of construction in mind, you will want to have your land surveyed so you know exactly where your boundaries of ownership lie; you’ll know what’s yours, and what’s not. A Boundary Survey will detail the exact boundaries of your land, using natural boundaries or artificial boundaries set in a written document.

Services of a professional land surveyor are most commonly needed when:

  • Buying or selling a home or parcel of land;
  • Dividing land into smaller parcels or consolidating parcels
  • Installing fences, septic systems or other improvements
  • Suspecting someone is encroaching on your property

Types of Surveys

Mortgage Location Survey

Ordered by a lender or title insurer, a Residential MLS is intended to provide proof that certain improvements are actually located on the property as described in the legal description. The survey plat must show particular information discovered from measurements taken at a site, and not necessarily evidenced by public record.

A Commercial MLS is a low-cost alternative to an ALTA Survey, although it also sacrifices some accuracy. The commercial mortgage location survey follows the same state standards as a residential mortgage location survey, so the lender must be willing to accept these standards in place of the ALTA standards.

ALTA Survey

Typically contracted by the title company, lender, or attorneys representing involved parties for commercial property purchases, refinances or improvements, an ALTA or ALTA/ACSM survey is based on standards put forth jointly by the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping . By utilizing a universal standard, an ALTA survey provides confidence that results are guaranteed.

Boundary Survey

A “Boundary Survey” is used to identify a property’s boundary lines. In this type of survey, the surveyor will set (or recover) the property corners and produce a detailed plat or map. To accomplish this, the surveyor will research the public records and do research in the field, take measurements and perform calculations. This type of survey is necessary for construction and permit purposes.

Topographic Survey

A topographic survey includes field measurement and preparation of a plat to establish land elevations. These surveys are typically contracted by a residential or commercial property owner before making improvements to the property such as, but not limited to, additions, landscaping or parking lots.

Investing in a land survey is an investment in peace of mind, both now, and down the road that your largest investment is accurately documented and protected. With 50 years experience in all 88 counties of Ohio, McSteen Land Surveyors is a leader in the industry. Contact us today and let our team of survey professionals take on your surveying needs.

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