Have you ever come across someone standing with a tripod-mounted with other equipment’s and they seemed to be looking through something? Did it cross your mind what they were doing? Most probably that was a land surveyor doing a land survey. He or She was going about his daily duties with his tools of work.
Maybe he was taking some measurements to determine a boundary of a property. Whether you expect to buy new land, sell your land, or plan to develop an existing property, undertaking a land survey is inevitable.
You cannot ignore having a survey of your land as this can cost you a fortune. Let’s have a look at what land survey entails so that you have all the information you need at your fingertips.
What is land survey?
A land survey is a process of establishing physical limits and exact field measurements of the land. In some cases, you can refer to it as a property survey or boundary survey.
At a bare minimum, a land survey will indicate the exact property lines and any structures within that specific property. Some other items that a survey helps discover include sewer, water, a public road, land topography, easement on the land, right of way, etc.
This exercise is done by professionals known as land surveyors. They use special equipment to create land maps/ survey maps and determine measurements of the land. Land Surveyors are experts in the collection, organization, and presentation.
Additionally, they also deliver spatial data for land information management services.
However, in case the land has buildings on it, a property survey does not give exact details of the building’s interior items as they focus is on the land.
There are several reasons why you might want to conduct a land survey. The below reasons will justify why you need to have your property go through a survey.
Reasons for doing land survey
To begin with, a land survey has various purposes. In this blog, we shall articulate them one by one for a better understanding.
a) To identify land boundary
This is one of the most common reasons for surveying your land. You may not be able to identify the exact boundaries of your property, however, through this exercise you clear all doubts.
Further, it helps you know whether your immediate neighbor has been encroaching on your land or where you have intruded on your neighbor’s land. This is helpful when you wish to fence your land or develop buildings on it.
In addition, land boundary cases are common and can end up in court. However, the easiest way to resolve it is to have a land survey done.
b) Locate utilities on the land
In some cases, vacant land has utilities such as water, electricity, sewer system, underground cables, minerals, etc. While some of them can easily be visible on the outside others are not easily identifiable.
Therefore, a survey helps to identify the exact existence of such utilities underground. This is useful especially when you want to undertake construction or any development on the land.
c) Identify zoning classification of an area.
Zoning is where the government regulates how land is used in an area. This varies from one area to another. There are three types of zones; residential, commercial, and agricultural.
A survey helps a landowner know their land zoning. This helps the owner utilize the land maximally without running into legal challenges with authorities.
It also makes it easier to seek approvals relevant to the property in question.
d) For purposes of title deed transfer
Whether buying or selling land, a land survey is a necessary step. This helps the seller or the buyer know the exact measurement of the property they need to dispose of or buy.
This also helps them to calculate the price they would wish to dispose of the property at. For any land buying or selling transaction, a land survey is a necessity.
e) Insuring a property/ getting title deed insurance
Do you know that some property owners insure their properties? Before signing up for any insurance on the property, a survey has to be done on the land to ascertain every item that is on the property.
f) Identify easement on the property
Easement on property refers to the right to certain personnel such as individuals or companies to have use of the land. A survey helps identify easements on the property.
There are four main types of property easements. They are utility, private, necessity, and prescriptive.
g) Settling boundaries disputes
A good neighborhood that has been existent for so many years can be destroyed by a disagreement on the land boundary. Land boundary disputes can have led to court cases or even death when involved parties decide to take the law into their hands.
A land survey helps establish the exact location and settles a boundary dispute permanently.
h) For purpose of developing a house
Building a home requires a number of approvals and reports on the current state of the land. A report on the land survey is also an important factor.
Also, when fencing the property, a survey will help you know the exact area to fence without encroaching your neighbor’s land.
i) As part of mortgage requirements
Most financial institutions giving mortgages request a survey of the property before processing the funds. While some may not ask the same it is important to have it before applying for any mortgage.
In some cases, the mortgage company caters for the costs of this survey while in others you are required to facilitate as the landowner.
j) New subdivision of land
Some land developers purchase large chunks of land and subdivide them into smaller pieces to sell. Before this is done a land survey needs to be conducted to ensure the new proposed subdivision of land meets the legal requirements within the area.
k) Updating an outdated property survey
Surveys require regular updating. This is because buildings can be constructed and may cross each other boundaries lines. Therefore, old surveys remain relevant up until another one is done.
This rules out any errors that may be existing and keep records up to date. Therefore, land surveys are done for purpose of updating land records.
l) Resolving right of way
Sometimes your property may block your neighbor from accessing the main road. At times they might be having the right to pass through your property. To clear these doubts and potential conflict, a survey comes in handy in resolving right of way.
What do you require during a land survey?
Perhaps you have already made up your mind about having a survey of your land. What you need to know is that there are various items required in the processing of conducting a survey. They include;
- A written approval from the land owner if you are a representative to have the survey done.
- Land control board approval to have the survey done. You will receive this from your local government
- Approved map from director of survey services in your area that should be up to date to ensure that the items in the area that needs to be captured are well laid down.
Steps of Conducting a Land Survey
There are various steps undertaken when doing a land survey. Before we list down the steps on land survey some may ask how long a land survey takes. The land survey takes a few hours to a few days depending on the size of the land in question.
However, across the board, below are the steps in any land survey.
a) Research and determine the type of land survey you require
There are various types of land surveys that are available. Each aims at achieving specific objectives.
Some types of land surveys include a mortgage survey which is done when a person is applying for a mortgage, ALTA Survey which identifies all developments in land, land boundary survey that identifies the exact location of land boundaries, and many more types of land surveys.
It is important to note that your choice of the type of survey will depend on your personal need and what you need to achieve at the end of the day.
This, therefore, is not a size fits and you will need to explore all the types and settle on your most ideal.
b) Find the right surveyor.
You do not need to take chances when it comes to land surveys. This is because inaccurate measurements can make you run into challenges.
You can find a good and professional surveyor through recommendations from friends, listed surveyors from Survey of Kenya, and local government surveyors who are found in each area.
The Institute of Surveyors of Kenya has a list of all licensed and registered surveyors and you can just have a look at their website and select one.
Another exceptional way to find a land surveyor is to use Google. You can search for land surveyors near me, property surveyors near me, or land survey companies near me.
This way you will find suggestions near you and you can go ahead and double-check before settling on one. There are more tips that you can apply when selecting the right land surveyor for your land.
c) The land surveyor comes physically to the land
This is where fieldwork comes in. At this point, the surveyor compiles the data in a document known as mutation document survey. This is a special document they use to record all important details regarding a property.
d) Presentation of documents
Upon completion of the survey, he/she presents the documents to the local survey office for review.
The documents are reviewed and given approvals and allocated new numbers to show they have been updated.
f) New title deeds if need be
If the newly surveyed property requires new title deeds, the property owner is required to submit a new request to the land registrar to have title deeds processed. If not a final survey report is given to the landowner for his personal use.
Tools that land surveyors use in their day to day work
There are various tools used by professional surveyors in the course of their work. They include but are not limited to
- Theodolite – a special equipment used to measure angles either vertically or horizontally
- Altimeters– commonly used to measure slopes.
- Total stations – measuring devices that also helps to level surfaces
- GPS (Global Positioning Systems) – they use satellites and they take accurate measurements of the land
- 3D scanners – they capture the land elevation.
Benefits of land survey to you as a land owner
Conducting a land survey has various benefits to you as the landowner. They include;
- Determining the accurate location of your land boundaries without speculation
- Identifying the location of property utilities
- Locate any features in the land that can limit the use of such a property
- For better environmental planning and helping know whether the land is a flood zone
- Helps land owner prepare the land for construction either for a fence, temporary or permanent structure.
- Helps in land valuation also and prevents your land from being undervalued or overvalued when doing valuation of the land
- Land survey helps in proper subdivision of land either for purposes of selling or inheritance
Cost of a land surveyor
The cost of a land survey depends on the land itself and also the surveying firm. However, the average cost is from 30USD to 1000USD. This is affordable in comparison to the benefits you will get as a landowner.
In case you are still wondering whether getting a survey is worthwhile, indeed it is. A survey on your land has many benefits and helps you collect data about your property. With all these details, you can now consider having a survey done on your property.
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