CONSUMER GUIDE AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why are land surveys necessary?
Land surveys are completed for several reasons. They can be made in order to determine the correct location of land boundaries with respect to deed descriptions. They can also inform you of the area of the land described, and any physical encroachments onto the property, or onto any adjacent property. It may also establish new lines dividing your land into smaller parcels if you so desire, or represent the topography of the land.

Types of Surveys
Boundary Surveys
A survey to establish the boundaries of a parcel using its legal description which typically involves the setting or restoration of monuments or markers at the corners or along the lines of the parcel.  A boundary survey of the parcel of land will be made in accordance with Nebraska State Statutes and the corners of the parcel of land will be located and verified or re-established.  This survey CAN be used for the construction of a fence, structure or other improvements with regards to local, state and/or federal regulations.

​ ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys
A surveying standard jointly proposed by the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping that incorporates elements of the boundary survey, mortgage survey, and topographic survey.  It covers all the aspects of the Boundary & Improvement Location Survey together with the identification of any additional evidence of possession or use which could be adverse to the interests of the borrower.  The client will provide the surveyor with a completed “Table A – Optional Survey Responsibilities and Specifications” form from the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys.

Topographic Surveys
A survey that measures the elevation of points, features, and improvements on a particular piece of land, and presents them as contour lines on a plot.

Floodplain / LOMA Surveys
​A survey that determines the elevation of your property in relation to the base flood elevation.  If your property is above the 100 yr.base flood elevation, you may be able to complete a LOMA survey and have your property removed from the floodplain, and avoid paying high cost flood insurance.

Construction Surveying
Construction surveying (otherwise “lay-out” or “setting-out”) to stake out reference points and markers that will guide the construction of new structures such as roads or buildings for subsequent construction.  These markers are usually staked out according to the arbitrary coordinate system used for the project.

Aerial Photography Horizontal & Vertical Control Surveys and Target Placement
Set up horizontal and vertical control for aerial photography flights, whether it be State Plane coordinates or UTM Coordinates (meters or feet).  Including target placement and setup of aerial targets.

Improvement Location Surveys (Mortgage Surveys)

This is a minimum survey that shows the location of the buildings and foundations actually located on the land covered by the legal description provided by the client.  Typically, this survey uses a minimum of only two corner monuments. This is NOT a boundary survey and is subject to any inaccuracies that a boundary survey may disclose.  The Improvement Location Survey should not be used or relied upon for the establishment of any fence, structure or other improvements.

Who can tell me if I need a surveyor?
In many cases, landowners should first contact their local zoning administrator or city official where they may be informed of the need for surveying services. Often, these authorities are looking for confirmation that laws and ordinances will permit the landowner to proceed with their development plan. A Professional Land Surveyor can perform the services that are being asked for, such as:  preparing a proposed subdivision layout; mapping a proposed building project to show if it will encroach on easements or building setback lines; preparing a legal property description for the purpose of rezoning a portion of a larger tract of land so that the development can proceed; measuring the elevation of a proposed building to determine if it lies within an established flood hazard area; preparing exhibits showing the vacation of existing easements, sometimes made necessary by the development plan; performing a topographic survey showing the “lay of the land” so that proper drainage runoff can be accommodated in the site grading.

Many times, a title attorney or title insurance agent requests the services of a Professional Land Surveyor in order to clear up an ambiguous property description, or to verify the proper location of structures on the property so that the mortgage lender will agree to assume a loan. Improvement Location Exhibits are often requested by these entities.

Why should I use a Professional Land Surveyor?
Nebraska Law says:
LAND SURVEYING; UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OR USE OF TITLE; PENALTY.
Any person, firm, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, or joint-stock association who or which practices or offers to practice land surveying or uses the title of land surveyor in this state without being registered or any person not registered under sections 81-8,108 to 81-8,127 who fails to file a copy of the plat and field notes as provided in section 81-8,122 shall be deemed guilty of a Class III misdemeanor.

A licensed Professional Land Surveyor is uniquely qualified to perform analyses of property descriptions, boundaries, easements, topography and geodesy.

A Professional Land Surveyor can provide you with a certificate of survey that will stand up in a court of law, advise you if there is a defect in your land description or evidence of an encroachment, and in cases of controversy, they can appear as your expert witness.

When do I need a Land Survey?
A land survey is usually needed:
Before title in land is transferred;
Before land is subdivided or platted;
Before land is developed by construction of roads, fences, buildings, etc.;
and Before a boundary dispute arises.

Where do I find a professional Land Surveyor?
For names and addresses of practicing land surveyors in your area, you may consult the yellow pages of your telephone directory under SURVEYORS, LAND. A list of registered land surveyors in Nebraska is available on the Board of Examiners website here:  http://www.nbels.nebraska.gov/index.html

When securing the services of a Registered Land Surveyor, you need not visit their place of business. You may transmit your order by telephone, fax, e-mail or by letter. The surveyor will need to know the legal description of the property you wish to have surveyed, and the type of survey required, or the specific purpose of the survey.

How do I determine their qualifications?
All land surveys made in the State of Nebraska are required by law to be made by a surveyor registered in the state. This means they have passed the examination and experience requirements set by the Nebraska Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors, and have received a license to practice land surveying.

In addition, as a condition for renewal of a certificate of registration issued pursuant to sections 81-8,108 to 81-8,127, a certificate holder who has previously renewed his or her registration shall be required to successfully complete thirty hours of professional development within the preceding two calendar years.

Membership in professional organizations also indicates a desire on the part of the Professional Land Surveyor to assist in the goals of those organizations. Recognized professional societies maintain a code of ethics.

Additionally, you may wish to review the local survey plat records in the office of the county Register of Deeds. There you will find examples of subdivision plats performed by local surveyors.

What will a land survey cost?
Land surveying cost depends upon many factors.  In addition to salary costs, surveying fees include allowance for business overhead, costs for vehicle mileage, drafting, copying and recording fees.  Surveying is a highly technical and complex service for which many variables are encountered on a daily basis, such as the type of terrain, difficulties encountered in location and checking control monuments, availability or quality of existing records, the surveyor’s knowledge of the area, and the requirements placed on a project by local planning authorities. Because of these variables, an exact fee is difficult and sometimes impossible to determine. However, a surveyor can usually furnish an approximate cost based on their general experience.

Competitive bidding for the lowest cost is not normally in the best interest of either the Land Surveyor or their client.

A “fixed fee” agreement can lead to conflicts of priorities when the prudent course of action is to do further research, or make additional measurements to resolve ambiguities. Local authorities can also alter the required scope of work by requesting additional services before approving a development plan already in progress.

Assuredly, the Land Surveyor’s professional services will cost less than the time, worry and expense of moving a building, relocating fences and improvements, or defending a lawsuit in court due to a land boundary controversy.

Buying or Selling a home or property?
Especially important to buyers or sellers of developed property is the question:

“Will you need a boundary survey? or an Improvement Location Survey?”

Buyers of homes expect a flurry of paperwork and signatures upon “closing” a mortgage loan. Often, in the confusion of paperwork, the question of “survey” is left answered by either the lending institution or the seller – and they may not have the best interests of the buyer in mind.  Having your property surveyed is a good idea when buying property, and can prevent future problems.

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