What Is Land Surveying And Why Does It Matter

 

Imagine you own a house located on a lot of land. You want to build a privacy fence on the boundary between your and your neighbour's property.


Problem is, you're not really sure where yours ends and where your neighbour's begins. This could potentially be an expensive problem. If you build that fence on your neighbour's property, you may have to tear it down. You'll be out for what you spent on the fence originally, as well as the cost of removing it.

 

What's a land survey?

A land survey could prevent this. When you survey your land you have a much better understanding of where the boundaries are between you and your neighbour. You'll be certain when you put up your fence, it will be on the right side of the property line.

Wood fence

Therefore, a land survey isn't a guess or an estimate of where your property boundaries are located. It's a formal assessment of those boundaries.


This is done by professionals called land surveyors, who are trained in providing legal and construction survey services for property owners who need it. There are several reasons a landowner may need someone to survey their land.

 

Why do land surveys matter?

Let's imagine again. When you own a piece of land, you generally tend to be given a deed. A deed is legal proof of your ownership and right to use the land and establishes the boundaries of said property.


At some point in the past, these boundaries were set by land surveys.


The surveys would have also determined, based on the land's features, what it could have been used for. A land survey would have designated that residential use was best for the piece of land your home is on.


Now, imagine there were no land surveys.


There would be no deeds. You'd have no way to show anyone this was your land and these were the boundaries of your property.


Because there would be no designated land use as mandated by a survey, local authorities would not have the legal authority to enforce zoning violations. Someone could build a shopping mall next to your home and there would be very little you could do about it. There is nothing stipulating that the land around you couldn't be used for commercial purposes as well.


You are just getting a taste of how important land surveys are.


You've learnt that they are important because they:


  • Offer legally defined and accepted boundaries.

  • Let people know the land's topography or the natural and man made features of the land in questions.

Knowing both is important for several reasons that will be discussed further down.

 

Person doing a land survey

 

Here are some other reasons land surveys are important:


• Settling disputes when you suspect someone is encroaching on your land

Let's switch things around. If your neighbour wanted to build a privacy fence and you were a little suspicious that he was several feet inside your property, a land survey could settle this issue for you.


• Updating an old survey

Having the latest land survey for your property is important because it is a record of what is on your land currently.


It will be difficult to get financing for new construction, for example, if you go to a lender with an old land survey.


An old land survey may also not be a true reflection of what the property is worth because it does not show any improvements undertaken or development of the land.


• Getting insurance and/or financing

Institutions like banks and insurance companies like legal documents.


They protect them from making bad investments and the rights represented by these documents can be enforced by a court.


Recently completed land surveys allow them to determine if the value of land is equal to the amount of financing or insurance coverage you are seeking.


• Clarifying easement rights

An easement is a type of access granted to a non-owner of a piece of land.


The easement grants the non-owner rights to either passage through the land, access to water or minerals or the right to use a designated part of the land for a special purpose.


A land survey will demarcate where the easement begins and ends. The easement holder does not have the right to access or to use any other part of the land as they are not the owner.


They are common in situations where land is inherited.


• Marking where utilities are on a piece of land


Several utility companies run their pipelines and networks underground.


You don't want to embark on construction on your land, only to hit a gas pipe or water main.


A topographic study of the land will help everyone know where these are located before construction begins.


Far from being a nice to have, land surveys are a must. You never know when you may need to establish where your property begins and ends. It makes sense to get one before this becomes necessary.