When beginning a new construction project, engaging in property transactions, or purchasing land, one of the first and most crucial steps is to determine the precise extent of the land’s boundaries. Land surveys, including a specialized form known as boundary surveys, play a pivotal role in this process. However, it’s important to understand that while boundary surveys are a type of land survey, land surveying is a broader category that includes several other types of surveys. Here’s a closer look at this distinction and why it matters. 

What is a Boundary Survey?

A boundary survey is specifically focused on determining the exact legal boundaries of a property. Once the property’s limits are defined, the property lines are marked to establish their precise positions on the ground. 

Boundary surveys are often used for:

  • Resolving property line disputes
  • Property transactions (buying or selling)
  • Planning construction or renovations
  • Determining easements and right-of-way

The main objective of a boundary survey is to establish or re-establish the property’s boundary lines according to legal descriptions and other documents. In addition to locating and physically marking the boundaries, boundary surveys may also involve:

  • Researching and cross-referencing deeds, plats, easements, and title reports
  • Identifying any possible encroachments from neighboring properties
  • Preparing a survey map or plat that includes accurate measurements and other relevant details

Exploring Different Types of Land Surveys

“Land survey” is a broader term that encompasses various types of surveys conducted on a piece of land for different purposes. Although boundary surveys are a subset of land surveys, there are other types of surveys that fall under the umbrella of land surveying. Some of the most common types of land surveys include:

Topographic surveys

A topographic survey is a comprehensive method for capturing and documenting the location, height, and size of surface characteristics within a plot of land on a 3-dimensional map. This includes elevations, natural features (such as bodies of water, rock formations, trees, and vegetation), and man-made features. Topographic surveys help architects, engineers, and developers have a comprehensive view of the whole property so they can ensure projects fit well within the land’s natural features. 

ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys

ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys are detailed surveys conducted on a property to provide comprehensive information about its boundaries, improvements, encumbrances, and other factors that might affect its ownership as they relate to a title-insurance policy. ALTA (American Land Title Association) and NSPS (National Society of Professional Surveyors) collaborate on setting specific standards for these surveys to ensure consistency and accuracy. They offer a high level of detail and accuracy, making them an essential tool for real estate transactions, property development, zoning and land use compliance, and legal situations where precise property information is paramount.

Subdivision Surveys

Subdivision surveys (also called subdivision mapping) are conducted when dividing a large parcel of land into smaller individual lots or parcels. These surveys are essential for legally establishing and documenting the boundaries, dimensions, and legal descriptions of each newly created lot within the subdivision. Subdivision surveys are primarily used for land development and construction, property sales and records, legal compliance, issuing title insurance, and identifying and establishing easements. 

Construction Staking

Construction staking is used to indicate the exact positions and dimensions of planned structures, boundaries, and features on a construction site using stakes, flags, or other types of markers. This type of survey ensures that the building process follows the intended layout and coordinates with property boundaries, topography, and other relevant factors. 

Other frequently utilized land surveys include:

There are also several types of specialty land surveys, such as elevation certificates and expert witness surveys. 

Empower Your Land Management with Expert Land Surveying Services

Land surveys, including boundary surveys, are indispensable for defining property boundaries, facilitating land development, and resolving potential disputes. Understanding the distinctions between these surveys empowers landowners, developers, and municipalities alike to make informed decisions that contribute to efficient land management and responsible development. Each type of survey addresses specific needs while guiding crucial decisions.

At Cinquini & Passarino, Inc., we’re committed to delivering the highest level of accuracy and precision in every survey we undertake. Our land surveyors employ cutting-edge equipment and methodologies to ensure our clients receive reliable and actionable data to support their projects. Whether you’re embarking on a new development, navigating property transactions, or requiring professional insights, our team is here to provide the expertise you need. Contact us today at (707) 542-6268 to discuss how we can assist you.