Homebuyer Checklist: Do You Need a Survey?

Homebuyer Checklist: Do You Need a Survey?

No matter whether it is your first or your fifth, buying a new home can often be a stressful time with an endless to-do list and many people to consult with. Through the countless phone calls with loan officers, title companies, agents, banks, and every other person assisting you, it is easy to get caught up in what everyone is advising you to do, however it is important to do your own research and see what you really need. There are many things that are required when closing on a home, in many cases, a survey is not one of them.

So what is a survey? A survey can come in many different shapes and sizes, the two most popular being a house location drawing and a boundary survey. The purpose of any kind of survey is to show the exact location of the property, where it begins and ends, and its relationship to the properties around it. It also makes notes of any improvements that have been made on the property such as fences or sheds.

A house location drawing is the cheaper and faster option when considering ordering a survey on your future home. Once this type of survey is ordered, a field crew is sent to the property to find any and all improvements that have been made. Using this information, and where they have determined the property lines are, a final drawing is created showing a birds-eye view of the property, its boundaries, and its improvements. If required, location drawings can also show easements, right-of-way on the property, and building restriction lines. It is important to note that house location drawings are not valid when trying to obtain permits, so if you plan on doing some work that requires a permit, a house location drawing is not the survey for you.

A boundary survey takes longer to complete and therefore is the more expensive option in most cases. The boundary survey process starts in the same way as the location drawing, a field crew is sent to the property to find the lines and the improvements, and they then create the drawing. The main difference between a boundary survey and a location drawing is markings. When determining the property lines, the field crew will also find the corners of the property.  This is measured as precisely as possible. Once they have noted the corners on the drawing, and confirmed exactly where they are, the field crew will mark each corner with iron rebar, and if requested, stakes or flags that can be seen above the ground. Many surveyors also offer to mark additional points along the property lines for an extra cost. Boundary surveys are suitable for obtaining permits and may require an upfront payment depending on the surveyor.

When deciding whether to order a survey or not, it is important to think about what you plan on doing on the property. Are you planning on building a fence on one side? Maybe a gazebo or new deck? Do your research and determine whether the work you are planning on doing requires a permit. If this is the case, a boundary survey is the way to go. Permits and legal requirements aside, surveys can be very helpful when making improvements if you happen to run into some issues with your neighbors. It is not uncommon for neighbors to be unhappy about a new shed that may block their sunlight, or a fence that they believe is unsightly.  Therefore, knowing exactly where your property lines are, and knowing your rights to build on your property, can extinguish any fires before they start.

If you are not planning on making any property improvements in the foreseeable future but would still like to know where your lines are, a location drawing may be the option for you. This will most likely save you a considerable amount of money and you’ll still have a good estimation of where your property lies. If further down the road you decide that you would like to build, or you just simply want to know exactly where your property corners are, you can order a boundary survey. Surveys can be completed on your property at any time, it does not need to take place during the settlement process.

So you’ve decided that you might do some work in the future and would like a survey completed, how do you get started? Here at Champion Title & Settlements we are happy to do the leg work for you. If you choose to work with us throughout your settlement process we will organize the survey on your behalf. We work with many reliable surveyors on a daily basis who we know we can count on to get you what you need. Once you advise us that you would like a survey, we will reach out to one of our contacts in the area of your property and ask them for a quote. Once you receive the quote you can decide whether you would like to go ahead with it or not. So whether you know that you need one no matter the cost, or if you’d just like to see if it is something you can afford, we will happily assist you.

For more information on the ways we can assist in the settlement process go to www.championtitle.com.