Surveying: Know Your Boundaries

Surveyors determine property boundaries by using specialized equipment that takes exact mesaurements. They are essential in map making, construction and engineering projects, but they can also benefit homeowners. When is the right time to call a surveyor?

Property Improvement
Improvements to a lot can add property and personal value to a home. For instance, fencing helps to protect privacy or create a boundary around the perimeter of a lot. A drive- or walkway makes accessing the house easier. A retaining wall can keep soil from sliding into a neighboring property. However, placing any of these features in the wrong location can be a costly mistake. Homeowners are within their legal rights to demand that a fence, retaining wall, or other landscaping element that encroaches upon their property from a neighbor’s be removed entirely. Beyond this monetary cost, property disputes can create sour relationships between adjacent neighbors; a survey can prevent conflict.

Even elements that have been a part of the property for years may not actually mark the property line. It is possible that a lot may never have been properly surveyed. Alternately, any old surveys are rendered void when additions to the home change distance values that are used by professionals when laying out a structure. A homeowner should always have a survey conducted before committing to a new improvement project.

Buying and Refinancing a Home
Homeowners take an interest in getting what they are paying for in the sale of a house, and so do the banks. When applying for a mortgage, it is helpful to have a current survey that legally proves the boundaries of a property so that financial institutions are able to accurately assess collateral. While a current homeowner may present an older survey, it is in the best interest of the buyer to have his or her own survey conducted before finalizing the home purchase. Many banks require a new survey for refinancing or restructuring a mortgage, as well.

Call the Professionals
While it’s possible for homeowners to rent equipment and conduct their own surveys, the results will lack legal gravity unless they are completed by a licensed surveyor.  Homeowners are not legally permitted to set or adjust property boundaries, and courts will not honor self-completed surveys as evidence in a dispute.

A survey has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in redone work and is a smart choice for those looking to sell, purchase or improve upon their homes.