You need a survey to:
- adjust your boundary lines. Examples include swapping a narrow strip with a neighbor or splitting off a small parcel for your family member.
- subdivide your property.
- determine if someone is encroaching on your property.
- resolve a boundary line dispute.
- change the acreage on your property tax bill.
- contest a requirement for flood insurance.
- develop property commercially.
- fix incorrectly drawn parcel lines on the county GIS.
- ensure that improvements are constructed in the correct place.
We often recommend a survey:
- before you buy a property. Banks and title companies usually require a survey for commercial real estate transactions, but not for residential transactions. Residential properties are just as prone to title issues and encroachments, but they are not as risky to lenders because they are less expensive. In most cases, we recommend protecting your investment by getting a survey before you buy.
- when you’re making improvements near property lines, such as fences and landscaping. They say that good fences make good neighbors. But, fences that encroach on a neighbor’s property have the opposite effect.
- prior to building a home, garage, or addition. In many jurisdictions, zoning laws restrict the size of structures and their setbacks from property lines. A survey can speed up the permitting process and prevent costly mistakes.
- in preparation to sell a property. A survey is especially helpful if the county GIS shows the parcel lines in a different location from where you thought they were. Buyers are often leery when the GIS doesn’t agree with the seller’s representation. A boundary survey can put everyone at ease.
The cost of a survey is highly variable and cannot be determined until we have reviewed the deed. Most people assume that the size of the property is the main factor. But, it’s not all about acreage; the property description is another primary concern. A small parcel with an irregular shape or vague, incomplete, poorly written, or inaccurate description can be a similar cost to survey as a larger parcel with a simple shape and a well-written description.
When preparing a quote we always review the legal description found in the deed. But, the type of survey, the size of the property, the scope of the project, the availability of records and field evidence, the terrain and accessibility of the site, and the time of year are other important considerations.
If your property is wooded, keep in mind that it is more cost-effective to survey in the winter when the trees have lost their leaves.
A survey is a big investment, but a good survey doesn’t go bad. We record our boundary surveys, so when the time comes to sell your property the new buyer can pick up a copy from the courthouse. And you’ll be prepared if you ever want to make improvements to your property such as a fence or building addition.
The purpose of a boundary survey is to locate, monument, and map the corners and boundary lines of a parcel. The minimum standards for boundary surveys are spelled out in Indiana law, but a lot more goes on behind the scenes than most people realize.
In addition to finding or setting markers at your property corners, we also:
- verify that found monuments are in the right place,
- analyze your deed and the deeds of all the adjoining properties to check for deed gaps or overlaps,
- write a “Report of Survey” explaining the evidence found, the procedures followed, the measurement accuracy, the monuments set, and the conclusions reached,
- draft a survey drawing that depicts the boundary lines, as well as fence lines, occupation lines, and improvements near property lines, and
- record the survey at the county courthouse to make our findings a matter of public record.
A boundary survey is the first step in resolving a property line dispute, subdividing a parcel, or constructing a major improvement such as a building or fence
The purpose of a boundary survey is to locate, monument, and map the corners and boundary lines of a parcel. A boundary survey is a necessary step when adjusting property lines, splitting parcels, or constructing improvements near property lines.
Surveyors are not required to depict interior improvements such as houses, outbuildings, or driveways on boundary surveys to comply with state standards. However, we include these features on most of our survey plats because we have found that they significantly increase the usability of the drawing for our clients.
A mortgage survey (legally referred to as a Surveyor Location Report) is more of a report than a survey. Improvements are always shown, but the boundary lines of the property are not definitively established. Mortgage surveys are intended for use by title insurance companies for the simple purpose of ensuring that the house and improvements are actually located on the property described in the mortgage. No corners are set, the location data is based on limited accuracy measurements, adjoining deeds are not analyzed, a surveyor’s report is not produced, and the survey drawing is not recorded. Mortgage surveys should never be relied upon for the construction of new improvements or fences.
We do not provide mortgage surveys. We have found that landowners frequently (and understandably) mistake them for boundary surveys. Unaware of their limitations, people often rely upon them to inform decisions far beyond their intended purpose.
GIS stands for Geographic Information System. GIS provides a framework to collect, manage, analyze, and share geographic data. It might just look like an interactive map, but behind the scenes, GIS is a powerful tool that exponentially increases the usability of data. Most data has a spatial component; GIS allows us to use location to link diverse datasets together.
When most people think of GIS, they think of their county’s interactive digital tax map. The county GIS depicts parcel lines over aerial imagery and allows users to access information such as owner names, addresses, and tax bills. The county GIS is a fantastic tool that has dramatically increased the efficiency of county government. However, a GIS is only as good as the underlying data, and in most counties, the parcel lines were initially traced from low-accuracy paper tax maps.
The lines and corners represented on the county GIS do not constitute legal boundaries. Users should not rely on them for any purpose other than a low-accuracy approximation of the location of lines or corners. They are of limited precision and are simply graphic representations developed for the county’s limited purposes – primarily to help the county assessor match buildings and acreages with the correct landowners. The parcel lines are often a good indicator of the shape of a parcel, but not its location.
The legal boundaries of a parcel are a function of (1) the law, (2) evidence on the ground, and (3) the written deed description or subdivision plat. Only a registered professional land surveyor is trained and licensed to locate boundary lines.
The parcel lines depicted on the county GIS should never be used for the construction of fences or buildings.
Please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Sometimes it’s best to discuss your issue to determine if you need a survey and if our firm is the right fit. If you choose to contact us by email, please include your name, the property address, the property owner name, and your phone number. If you have a prior survey or a copy of your deed, please include it. The more information we have, the more we can help!