Land Surveying is the measurement of horizontal distances, elevations, directions, and angles on the earths surface for use in locating property boundaries and map making. Professional Land Surveyors (PLS) are the people who practice Land Surveying. There are many times you may need the services of a land surveyor. Let’s answer the question – why get a survey?

Why get a survey? For any of the following reasons:

So that you can see exactly what you are buying or selling.
To determine if there are easement lines for utilities such as water, sewer, drainage ways, power lines, etc. on your property.
To know if there are any encroachments like driveways, fences or buildings on the property.
To know the exact property line measurements and the precise locations of all structures, fences, or driveways related to those property lines.
To determine if you are in a floodplain.
To be able to put up a fence on your property in the correct location.
To subdivide your property to divide it among family members.
To make sure the building you’re constructing is on the lot, within the setback lines, and not encroaching on any easement lines.
To determine if your lot is usable for an onsite septic system. (While technically not a survey, these are commonly done by surveyors.)

A Professional Land Surveyor is required to be licensed by the state(s) in which they practice. Typically land surveyors must have a college degree in surveying or a closely related field to surveying. At that time they are allowed to sit for an eight (8) hour “fundamentals” test. After successfully passing this test and working under another licensed surveyor for two to six years of on the job training she may then qualify to sit for the eight (8) hour “professional” exam.

The bold words above are defined below.

Money Saving Hint – if you need boundary lines marked it might be best to do that in the winter when the leaves are off. Ask about splitting the job into two parts to accomplish these savings.

Definition of Keywords:

Bearings – defines direction based on the four cardinal directions (north, south, east & west.) A bearing is comprised of three elements 1) the north or south element, 2) the bearing angle, and 3) the east or west element. For example N 24°15′ E is a line that runs in a direction of 24°15′ toward the east from the due north direction, or in a direction that is 24°15′ clockwise from the due north direction.

Drawing – an illustration that is drawn to scale that represents planned or actual features of an area. The survey drawing shows each property line with its distance and bearing, what marks the property corners, the improvements on the property, encroachments, easements, etc. The amount of information shown is dependent of the type of survey or purpose of the survey.

Easement – the privilege of using something that is not your own (as using another persons land as a right of way to your own land.) Usually an easement has a special purpose and gives the owner of the easement right to “trespass” on the landowners property in order to maintain the easement or utility covered in the easement.

Encroachment – to intrude unrightfully on someone else’s rights or territory. This is when a building or some portion of it, or a wall or fence, extends beyond the land of the owner and illegally intrudes on the land of an adjoining owner.

Floodplain – floodplain or flood plain is the land area adjacent to a river, stream, lake, or other body of water that is subject to flooding.

Metes and Bounds Legal – a land description method that details all of the boundary lines (bounds) of the land, together with the line dimensions & directions (metes). The most common method today is to use bearings and distances.

Monument – a fixed natural or artificial object that is found or set at a property corner to establish the boundaries of the property.

Onsite Septic System – An onsite septic system is used in rural areas to dispose of household sewage. The system normally contains a septic tank which allows the sewage to be “broken down” and field lines to dispose of the effluent. It may occasionally contain an additional treatment system which “treats” the effluent to a higher level than the septic tank. To find your septic tank and field lines, look for the greenest grass.

Parcel – a parcel of land is some defined amount of land defined by certain boundaries. Another word for parcel of land could be “piece” of land.

Setback Lines – the distance from the property line or other established line within which no buildings may be constructed. Also known as a building line.

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