Understanding the Surveyor’s Mapping Product

The mapping product can be a complex document to understand. Upon first review, you may be overwhelmed by all the text, lines and symbols presented on a survey plat. Gardy and Associates, PC, will work with you to answer questions, and assist you in interpreting your survey product. The Virginia Association of Surveyors, and the National Society of Professional Surveyors have provided numerous awards to Gardy and Associates, PC for its mapping products.

There should be a legend or text near the symbols on the drawing explaining what each symbol represents. These structures include; water meters, utility poles and guy wires, fire hydrants, telecom or broadband cable junction boxes, electrical transformers, manholes, etc. The relative locations of these structures on the drawing can be very helpful in visualizing the property boundaries.

The first lines one should notice on a properly drafted survey are boundary lines, since boundary lines usually are bolder than any other lines on the survey. One should be able to clearly identify the boundary lines and their corresponding measurements above all else on the survey. Other lines you may see include easements, building setback lines, or the outlines of other visible features.

A Note on Intermediate Line Staking/Flagging:
The exterior property corners on your survey will be marked. If a property line is very long it may be difficult or impossible to determine where the boundary line is, on the ground, along the entire line. In such cases it is helpful to have the surveyor set stakes along the boundaries at intermediate, inter-visible points. This is an additional contract item that is not usually done unless you have made prior arrangements with the surveyor, but can be provided at an additional expense.

A Note About Underground Utilities:
The survey will depict visible “above-ground” utility features. Underground utilities are not shown on the survey unless specifically contracted. Even then, a disclaimer will be added that the utilities are only shown to the extent marked by utility marking companies, or copied from existing utility maps provided by utility companies.

Survey calls – Metes and Bounds (bearing and distance annotations):
Survey calls are a mystery to many people. A survey bearing indicates the quadrant in which it exists and the number of degrees into that quadrant measured from zero. The distances are usually indicated in U.S. Survey feet. Gardy and Associates, PC can provide assistance to you in interpreting this data.

Encroachments or other occupation evidence:
Take a close look at all the boundary lines around the property. If any structures project across the boundary they should be clearly noted. Often, structures near the boundaries, such as fences, indicate what surveyors call “occupation evidence.” Occupation lines occur when adjacent owners make unspoken claims of land ownership. Sometimes occupation lines coincide with actual property boundaries, in some instances they conflict. Occupation evidence includes fences, buildings, hedges and other plantings, vehicle parking, driveways, etc. This kind of use may lead to an adverse possession claim if it continues for the statutory period. If encroachments are discovered by your surveyor it is important to address them.

FEMA Designated Flood Hazard Areas:
The survey should note whether the property is in a special flood hazard area. The hazard risk zones and related base flood elevations are established by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). If the property is in a special flood hazard area, a certification of the designation of the designated “zone” of the area, and the effective date of the FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) used in the determination should be noted on the survey.

Elevation Certificates and The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP):

You may be able to improve your insurance rates with an Elevation Certificate. Gardy and Associates, P.C. provides Elevation Certificates, which are an important administrative tool of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Elevation Certificate is used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances, and to determine the proper insurance rate for your property. In many instances, your insurance rates can potentially be lowered, based on the results of the survey. The Elevation Certificate can be used to determine remedial measures, such as engineered flood vents, which can be installed to improve hydrostatic relief. Gardy and Associates, P.C. can determine your Flood Zone Designation, and provide an Elevation Certificate for use in determining the possible insurance cost savings.

ALTA Land Title Surveys:
Should it be required, Gardy and Associates can provide ALTA Land Title Surveys, in accordance with lender requirements. These surveys will be performed to the latest ALTA/NSPS specifications.

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