Many people have wondered if they need a survey of their land, for either personal or professional reasons. Whether it is for buying or selling a property, making improvements to an existing site, or determining the exact boundaries of a property, land surveys are necessary to provide accurate, reliable information regarding property lines.

What Is a Land Survey?

Land surveys are a necessity to determine the property lines and location of features in an area. These surveys are the only way to know exactly where one property ends and another begins. Land surveys are not only useful for settling property disputes, but they can also help make sure that you meet any legal requirements when making changes to your property.

Related: What Is a Land Survey?

What Does a Land Survey Include?

A land survey is used to mark the exact boundaries of a property’s area. They also mark the location and dimensions of other buildings and site improvements that are on the property.

Why Do I Need a Land Survey?

Land surveys are useful for many things that any homeowner might need at one time or another. Whether you want to know your properties boundaries for personal reference, or are making changes or improvements, land surveys can help with:

  • Locating exact property lines.
  • Obtaining title insurance.
  • Finding easements.
  • Building any new structures.
  • Updating an old survey.
  • Complying with your mortgage requirements.
  • Settling property line disputes.
  • Locating utility lines.
  • Knowing exactly what property you are purchasing.

If your land survey hasn’t been updated in recent years, it may reference landmarks that aren’t on the property anymore, and a surveyor can provide current, accurate property lines. The surveyor can also fine new reference points for the property’s boundaries.

Are you looking for a reliable land surveyor? Millman National Land Services has you covered!

How Long Is a Land Survey Good?

Land surveys don’t necessarily come with an expiration date, but they act as a snapshot of your property; anytime changes are made on your property or your neighbor’s land, the old survey becomes inaccurate. 

If you are planning on buying or selling a home, most lenders and buyers will want a recent, up-to-date land survey. Anything from a new fence to an added deck or pool can render your old survey obsolete; it’s good to have a surveyor mark your property before making improvements.

The amount of time that a surveyor will guarantee their documentation of your property varies from state to state. Still, they will typically be liable for the accuracy of a survey for five to ten years.


Types of Land Surveys

The city of Chicago


There are multiple types of land surveys; the one that you need to get depends on the reason for needing a survey. Professional surveyors can cover anything from locating property lines to splitting parcels of land; they can take care of your specific real estate needs.

ALTA Survey

American Land Title Association (ALTA) surveys are typically performed when you are buying a home. Also known as a mortgage survey, title companies typically require these to be done before issuing title insurance. Many lenders will also require an ALTA survey before they will provide financing for the mortgage.

Related: Who Performs ALTA Land Surveys? 

Boundary Survey

Boundary surveys are used to determine the location of boundaries and corners on a piece of property. These surveys provide an accurate, exact measurement of property lines in an area. Boundary surveys are generally used to settle a legal dispute over land, locate easements, or for your personal records.

Location Survey

Location surveys are very similar to boundary surveys, but they also include improvements made on the property. They show and mark the size and location of improvements, along with the measurements of the distance between them and the boundary lines of the property. Location surveys are usually a requirement to obtain a zoning permit.

Subdivision Survey

Subdivision surveys are used when you need to divide parcels of land into multiple areas to build a subdivision. They are necessary to create subdivision plats, and they have to be filed in land records at the recorder’s office. These surveys are required for the construction of a subdivision.

Site-Planning Survey

Site-planning surveys, or plot plans, are used in planning the developments for site improvements. The proposed structure or improvement is drawn inside the current boundary survey, and the site-planning survey is typically required to apply for and obtain a building permit.

Construction Survey

Construction surveys are designed to show construction workers what areas to build on and measure the distance between the planned improvements. Surveyors performing a construction survey will stake out and mark the locations of planned improvements and structures on the property.

Topographical Survey

Topographical surveys show the location of man-made and natural features that lie on a property. Surveyors will mark everything from fences and buildings to trees and rivers; they also record these features’ elevations. Engineers and architects use topographical surveys to plan for site improvements.

How Much Does a Land Survey Cost?

Multiple variables factor into the cost of a land survey: the type of survey, the shape and size of the property, location, and the travel time for the surveyor.

ALTA surveys are generally more expensive than something like a boundary survey because of the extra time and effort that goes into researching existing documentation and the number of details that have to be provided.

The average cost to hire a land surveyor is around $500, but this number can vary greatly depending on many factors; it could be less or much more depending on your needs and property.

Who Pays for the Land Survey: The Seller or Buyer?

Many people wonder who will have to pay for a required land survey when buying or selling a home. Who has to pay will differ from state to state, but, in most areas, the buyer is responsible for paying for the services, or it is negotiable between the two parties.

Related: Does a Buyer or Seller Pay for a Land Survey?

Where to Get a Copy of the Most Recently Recorded Land Survey?

There are a few different places you can get a copy of your property’s most recent land survey. You can typically get a certified copy of the survey from the building department or land recorder’s offices. You may also find the survey records from the local tax assessor’s office or the company that issued your title insurance.

Closing Remarks 

Equipment used for land surveying


When hiring a surveyor to perform a service on your property, it’s essential to choose a certified professional to ensure that your land survey is done correctly and is 100% accurate.

How do you find a land surveyor that you can trust? Get in touch with Millman National Land Services today!