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Surveying 101: The Land Surveying Process

The process of surveying land isn’t something you just put on your “to-do” list for any particular day, like going to the store or dry cleaners. It takes time and effort to conduct one … and a whole lot more.

The actual process has been much improved by using modern tools like global-positioning system (GPS) satellites and other measuring devices. Even so, a survey still involves a surveyor going out to a property and measuring distances. The larger the property, the more time it takes.

What’s more, land surveyors in the U.S. need to be licensed by the state (or states) in which they survey property. That takes education, practice and money. Again, something that will likely not be on your checklist of things to do for a particular day.

So … what does a land survey entail?

According to Wikipedia:

Surveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them. These points are usually on the surface of the Earth, and they are often used to establish land maps and boundaries for ownership or governmental purposes.

Essentially, the surveyor obtains boundary and area information for both the recording of the property’s individual deed, and for plotting entire land parcels. An individual piece of property can, and usually is, a part of a larger land parcel; a homeowner’s property in a subdivision is a good example of this.

Through the process of a land survey, the surveyor determines the coordinates—usually in latitude and longitude—of the property in question. She or he then sets what are called “monuments,” or markers that are used in the public record that ensures the correct title for the owner(s) of the land. These monuments, generally placed in the corners of the property, can be permanent or removable.

Features or fixtures on a particular piece of land are generally included in such surveys, too; for example, a house that is on a tract of land, the driveway leading up to the house, a storage shed behind the house, and so on. Their placement is noted in the land survey report.

A land surveyor also gathers information through visual observations,  questionnaires, the research of legal instruments, and data analysis in the support of determining property boundaries.

Additionally, land surveyors think in three dimensions. They measure and record the topography, or the contours and elevations, of the property in question.

Land surveying can also include associated services, like:

  • Mapping and related data accumulation
  • Construction layout surveys
  • Precision measurements of length, angle, elevation, area, and volume, as well as horizontal and vertical control surveys
  • Analysis and utilization of land survey data

You also need a LandFAX™ report. With our intelligence in your back pocket, you’re much less likely to get caught holding the short stick in any kind of dispute over a parcel or property you’re buying or already own. A little bit of money spent up front can save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in work later.

If you would like to have us build you a LandFAX report, scroll to the top of this page and enter in the address or latitude/longitude of the property in question. This box is in the same place throughout our site. If you have additional questions, please contact us.

This is the second part of a continuing series of Surveying 101 articles that introduce the ideas, methods and benefits of land surveys. To see the entire series, click on Surveying 101 in the Filed Under section below.

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