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ALS offers many types of surveys that help clients verify what is possible on their property. From easement and encroachment issues to whether or not proposed plans interfere with utilities or floodplains, we will help clarify any confusion and answer any questions to the best of our ability.

what is utility location?

There are many underground utilities beyond the meter, including electric, gas, and water services, as well as many industrial complexes, commercial properties, and private properties that have underground utilities between the meters and other buildings on the property. This is why it’s important to perform extensive underground utility location, especially on commercial projects or expansions to existing structures.

By locating these facilities, landowners and developers can avoid later design issues, unnecessary repair bills, and personal injury. Utility location surveys identify and locate underground utilities, tanks, and foreign objects essential to employing safe operating procedures. Aboveground utilities on or near a property are measured, identified, and shown on a boundary survey. Underground utilities can be identified as either marked on the surface by utility locators or as shown on plans prepared by respective utility companies. A boundary survey will need to be performed either beforehand or simultaneously.

A boundary survey must be done beforehand or in conjunction.

what is improvement location?

An improvement location survey identifies and locates on-site property improvements that have been proposed/recently built. We locate the improvements on a property, comparing these with existing land records and prior surveys to determine what has changed. We also take into account local and state regulations for property improvements and zoning requirements to ensure that they don’t violate any rules. If there are any violations, we point these out to the client. Improvement location works in conjunction with other survey services that we offer, such as topographic, site plan, or boundary surveys.

Reasons for getting an improvement location survey are as follows:

  • when purchasing property
  • a title company requests one
  • to ensure proposed improvements are in compliance with regulation/do not encroach on another’s land
  • when settling disputes about improvements
  • to clear up uncertainty about improvements

what are easements?

An easement grants an entity the legal right to access or use a piece of land without having any ownership of said land. Perhaps the most common use of easements is for utility companies, whose infrastructure commonly includes pipes/wires that run underneath properties, as well as oil/gas companies who use pipelines for transportation. In many cases, private landowners also request easements as in the case of a property owner whose land has no direct roadway access. In some cases, a landowner may request an express easement right when selling his/her property in order to retain the use of the land even after selling it.

It’s important to know about any easements on one’s property because these can have an effect on the overall property value as well as planned improvements made to property. Unlike other types of land surveys which are concerned with boundaries, elevation and similar land features, easement surveys are more concerned with land rights, and with property features associated with those rights. Combining research of land records with a physical property inspection, we identify any existing easements along with any structures that are present as a result of easements.

Reasons for getting an easement survey are defined as follows…

  • before purchasing a piece of land
  • when in a dispute regarding an easement
  • when planning to challenge an easement
  • when verifying whether conflicting easements exist

what is floodplain management?

These surveys do not expire and are required to ensure that all new buildings adhere to proper flood and elevation requirements. Flood surveys benefit those that have been required to purchase flood insurance at the request of a lender. Elevation certificates help determine if a property is located within a designated flood zone. In order to determine whether a property is located within a flood zone, the property must have flood certification.

While some are hesitant to spend the money to acquire such a certification, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that flood insurance savings earned by following its flood guidelines average $90,000 over the span of 10 years. Flood zones and elevation requirements are implemented and regulated through various government programs in order to ensure that property owners are protected against material and financial loss due to flooding. Since flood zones can change, it is important to fully understand FEMA guidelines and current flood maps. Find out more about FEMA elevation certificates here.

what is title discrepancy?

When buying real estate, title insurance is purchased from the title company who researches the history of the title, ensuring that the real estate in question is legal to sell. Title insurance ensures that the title company is willing to back their research and correct any mistakes. There are all sorts of situations that one can’t foresee when buying real estate, which is why it’s so important to make sure your title is insured. Title insurance is only available after a survey is conducted on the land. ALTA/ACSM surveys cover not only the boundaries of the property, but also provide information that may go against the purchaser’s interests.

ALTA/ACSM surveys are conducted within a strict set of land surveying standards developed to promote uniformity. These can be performed on both commercial and residential property and show buildings, improvements, as well as easements, rights-of-way, and other claims to the land. This type of land survey goes above and beyond to mark the boundaries on the land itself and includes records research to ensure that the title is clear. This can help catch problems even before the land changes hands and title insurance is needed. Find out more about ALTA/ACSM surveys here.