I think the man I spoke with either laughed at me inside or groaned inwardly. “What kind of survey do you need?” he asked. What does he mean what kind of survey? Isn’t there just one kind, the kind you get when you’re looking to purchase a vacant lot? “Well, do you want the boundaries staked or just a plot plan? What do you need it for?” I know he was trying to be helpful but I’m sure taking the time to explain the different types of surveys to an obvious novice like me was not on his daily agenda. So I got back to him a little later, after I’d done a little homework.
In short, I realized 2 things: 1) Surveys can be as simple as a drawing marking the legal boundaries. Or they can be very detailed, marking topographic changes, utility lines, easements, etc. There are many different types – ALTA surveys, mortgage surveys, boundary surveys, topographic surveys, construction surveys, are just a few. 2) Surveys are not cheap. The more extensive the survey, the more expensive it gets.
The link below leads to a good source of info regarding the different types of land surveys specifically for residential and commercial building construction.
Now that I had this info, I needed to decide a) Is a survey really necessary or is it just “recommended”. Like how contractors “recommend” an expensive upgrade. I mean, when I purchased my townhouse no one “recommended” I get a survey then, so why is it different for purchasing a lot? b) If I do get a survey, which type do I need at this stage of the game?
Ultimately, I learned that I definitely needed a survey for the purpose of new construction. The boundaries need to be established to ensure the new construction is adhering to zoning laws in terms of setback requirements. The utility lines need to be identified to ensure they’re not hit during excavation and also to plan access to the house. The degree of slope needs to be determined to design appropriate foundation grading. I got the idea and decided I would need what’s called a boundary survey and a topographic survey. Some sites call the two types of surveys combined into one a site-planning survey. So there you have it, Survey Man, I need a site planning survey :). Ultimate cost after getting a few estimates: $625. And so the cost of small home building begins..
Next topic will be on soil testing ….