If you’re a homeowner, you will likely need to have your property surveyed at least once in your lifetime. In Massachusetts, land surveys can be required for a variety of reasons. You might need a survey if you’re purchasing, selling or subdividing land, mortgaging property, building or adding onto a house, installing a septic system, fence or other improvement, and more. However, many homeowners are surprised by the time and expense involved in a land survey. There is often a misconception that we can come out in a single visit and simply mark out the property lines. The reality is a bit more involved, requiring two visits and a lot of behind the scenes work.
Step 1: Research
The first step is research. Using your address, we will search for deeds, plans and any other historical evidence relating to your property that has been recorded at the Registry of Deeds or is on file at your City or Town Hall. We can usually do this online, but sometimes documents still need to be obtained in person or mailed. This research can be lengthy and take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours or even days. We may find one deed that directs us to one plan that directs us to yet another plan, and these documents can date back ten, twenty, fifty years or more. We’ve even found plans from Henry David Thoreau while conducting surveys.
Older plans often use different terms of measurements and may refer to evidence that no longer exists, which can make a survey more complicated. Sometimes we find conflicting evidence which requires additional research going further back in history in order to resolve. All of this research uncovers descriptions of your property that provide physical evidence for us to work from, evidence like stone markers, iron pipes, stone walls and fences.
Step 2: Site Visit
The next step involves an initial visit to the site where we use this research to find the landmarks referenced. Some of these markers may no longer be present, like stone or concrete monuments or buildings that have since been demolished. Other times, they may have been altered or destroyed. And some markers, like iron pipes, can be buried deep in the ground, which is why land surveyors commonly use metal detectors. Next, we use specialized survey equipment to gather distances and angles between the monuments and the property and any buildings on it. This data will be used to prepare a plan.
Step 3: Drafting
Once we have completed the first site visit, we will return to the office to draft the plan. We take all of the data collected on site and input it into a drafting software. The drafting process typically takes several hours or more to complete. Sometimes complications arise which can take longer. For instance, the points taken may not match up or the plan may show a boundary dispute with a neighbor. This may require an additional visit to the site.
Step 4: Completion
When the plan is complete, it is printed, stamped and given to the homeowner. If they wish to have their property staked out, this requires a second visit to the site. During this visit, we will place iron rods at the property corners and wooden stakes along the property lines. This process can take three hours or longer depending on the size and shape of the property.
Now that you know what’s involved in a land survey, call us today at (617) 899-0703 and we will be happy to assist you with your surveying needs.