About Surveying Services
The requirements for land surveys vary considerably from property to property. Therefore, taking a one-size-fits-all approach is not cost-effective and may not fulfill your needs. Because land and boundary laws differ from state to state, there are state-specific standards which must be followed in addition to specifications requested by the client. When contacting your land surveyor, it is crucial that both parties understand the scope of the survey. If there is ambiguity in a survey request, problems are sure to arise. As complexity increases, so does the potential for misunderstandings. Clearly written specifications are the best way to ensure that the survey fits the need and is priced accordingly.
A prime example of this is seen in the term 'pin survey'. Pin surveys are a common, yet misleading, request, as the term has a different meaning to different people. Property owners who wish to erect a fence may ask for a pin survey to be certain of the fence's location. In this case, all the owner requires is that the property corners are located and marked with monuments.
A second example is a real estate agent who asks for a pin survey to determine for the buyer if any encroachments exist on the property. This survey type is specifically requested as the corners are not ordinarily located for a residential property transaction. However, a more appropriate survey is one that allows for the standard survey exception to be removed from the title insurance policy.
In order to address this particular issue, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), formerly known as the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM), have created a set of specifications that can be used when requesting a survey with a clearly defined scope of work. These specifications are known as the ALTA/ACSM Survey Specifications. The most current revision of these specifications was created in 2016.