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A practical guide to survey review: a public service of Davidson Law Firm.

Land surveys are an integral part of real estate transactions, but many aspects of surveyors mystify non-surveyors, including attorneys. This article will describe some practical tips for reviewing surveys.

The first task in reviewing a survey is to determine the type of survey presented, compared to the type of survey required. "Survey" is commonly used to refer to the survey map, although the word "survey" more accurately refers to the whole of the surveying activities including the field measurements, field notes, physical field evidence, and the surveyor's review of the evidence and formation of opinions about boundary lines and other matters.


* Boundary or land surveys: which locate boundary lines between privately owned parcels of land, but not necessarily improvements on the land;

* As-built surveys: which are used to show the relationship of new construction, as built, to the boundary lines and other items; and

* ALTA surveys: prepared according to the ALTA/American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. The ALTA survey is generally the most complete for real estate transactions, but is also more expensive.


The first task in the more substantive review is to review the legal description and the boundary of the property. Locate the boundary on the survey all around the property to confrim closure.


If the description is in metes and bounds, trace each course and distance around the boundary from the "point of beginning" (which is the point on the property at which the description starts). Follow the boundaries until you return "to the point of beginning" (the legal description should contain this phrase at the end to ensure closure).


If the description consists of platted lots, locate the lot numbers and plat recording information on the survey.


The next step is to locate on the survey each easement and other similar exception identified in the title commitment. In addition, unrecorded easements that are apparent from a visual inspection should be indicated.


Locate all buildings and other improvements to verify that they do not encroach over any boundaries, easements, or setback lines. Other structures, parking lots, and fences should be shown.


The survey must show all adjacent streets, roads, alleys, and highways, together with their width, distance to property; and notes of any restrictions on access to them. You must ascertain that a public street or highway abuts the property or that an insurable appurtenant easement exists to a public road.


Locate evidence of all utilities and be sure that all utilities are round on the property or in abutting public roadways.


Cantrell at State

Little Rock, Arkansas 72203

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Author:Davidson, Charles Darwin "Skip"
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jun 23, 2008
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