A boundary survey is a process carried out to determine property lines and define true property corners of a parcel of land described in a deed. It also indicates the extent of any easements or encroachments and may show the limitations imposed on the property by state or local regulations. Easements may include a utility line easement crossing the subject property to a neighboring property or appurtenant like the right to cross another property for access to a public road. On the other hand, the use of a piece of land by an individual other than the owner unaccompanied by an authority to do so is generally termed as encroachment.
Boundary surveys are an important procedure for anyone buying a property of any type. They are typically performed prior to buying, subdividing, improving or building on land. Surveying the parcel before these activities ensures avoidance of future disputes, the expense and frustration of defending a lawsuit, moving a building, or resolving a boundary problem.
The boundary survey begins with a boundary or cadastral surveyor measuring, marking, and mapping the boundary lines of land ownership. The surveyor then thoroughly examines the historical records relating to the property being purchased as well as the lands surrounding it. Generally, this search includes the Registry of Deeds but it may also include:
This is done to ensure that the purchaser has more evidence of the boundaries, which can be very beneficial in the long run. Also, the surveyor may also talk with prior owners and ad-joiners.
The field work begins after the research and involves establishing a control network of known points called a traverse. The points are used to search for and locate existing monuments and other evidence of the boundaries. Although the field portion of a survey is the most visible phase of surveying, it usually represents only a third of the entire project.
The results of the field work are compared with the research and the surveyor then reconciles all the information to arrive at a final conclusion about the boundaries. A second field trip is then needed to set the new monuments. Finally, the surveyor will draft a plan, prepare a legal description and write a report.
When completed, the survey will show a plan of the property, a written description, notes of any monuments on property corners and a report explaining the basis of decisions and judgments made to determine the boundaries. It will depend upon previous agreements made between the purchaser and professional land surveyor as to how the boundaries will be marked. Monuments may include wooden posts, iron pins or pipes, marked trees or concrete monuments.
The actual cost of a boundary survey depends on many variables, some of which can be known only after commencing the work. The size, terrain, vegetation, location and season influence the cost. However, the surveyor will not know if deeded monuments are missing or if they conflict with the description until he goes well ahead into the survey.