What’s the Difference Between ALTA/ACSM and Boundary Surveys?

February 8, 2021 6:01 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Property owners in Mobile, AL have a general idea of what surveyors do, but often don’t realize surveyors might offer vastly different services. For example, those who aren’t familiar with all the different types of surveys available run the risk of paying for boundary outlines when they really need an ALTA/ACSM survey. Here’s a quick rundown so you know what to request from your surveyor.

Detailed assessments of the property

Boundary surveys are quite simple—as their name suggests, these surveys take note of boundary lines so the property owner understands the scope of their land. Surveyors create a general map of the property and outline the boundaries, but otherwise provide little information. Boundary surveys are the most common because they’re less expensive and required for nearly all property development projects.

ALTA/ACSM surveys involve a greater amount of detail. First and foremost, ALTA/ACSM surveys will check for easements and encroachments. Surveyors identify structures like fences, roads and buildings that sit on a person’s property and determine whether or not they have permission to exist in that space. They also confirm that the owner has a legal way of accessing the property. Owners will have to settle violations by either removing or making an exception for infrastructure on their land.

Real estate and property acquisition

A boundary survey will suffice for contractors who need to acquire building permits. In the planning stages of a construction project, city officials must confirm that the new structure will stay within the agreed upon boundary lines. They don’t need details about what’s already in place on the property, only that future projects comply with local regulations.

Those who are looking to acquire new property in Mobile, AL often need both ALTA/ACSM and boundary surveys. The boundary survey will first establish the plot of land being purchased, and then surveyors collect additional information about what lies within those boundary lines. ALTA/ACSM surveys are always needed whenever someone buys property because lenders won’t finance land that harbors zoning violations.

Compliance with city laws

As mentioned earlier, boundary surveys don’t record information other than the limits of someone’s property. City officials in Mobile, AL are most concerned with making sure new structures don’t encroach on adjacent land, whether it be private or open to the public. When builders undergo a new construction project, it’s assumed the property owner has already made sure the other fences and buildings are compliant with city ordinances.

The processes of building on land and acquiring land are entirely different. ALTA/ACSM surveys make sure the land is ready for acquisition so the new owner doesn’t inherit violations of city code, like encroachments, inconsistent descriptions, landlocked property and so on. To put it simply, ALTA/ACSM surveys get all the ducks in a row before a purchaser and their lender seal the deal.

Boundary surveys won’t cut it for real estate acquisition. Whether you’re looking to build a house or launch a business, every future property owner needs an ALTA/ACSM survey conducted on their new plot of land. Before signing on the dotted line, consult one of the trusted professionals at Polysurveying. We offer both boundary and ALTA/ACSM surveys so you know what to expect from the land around your home or commercial building.

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