HOW DO I CHOOSE A LAND SURVEYOR?
Make sure the person you hire is a licensed surveyor in Maryland. Only a Licensed Land Surveyor can legally establish property lines.To protect yourself make sure the land surveyor you choose is insured. Check with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations Board for any disciplinary actions against the surveyor. (www.dllr.state.md.us) Ask if the work will meet or exceed the minimum standards of practices as adopted by the State of Maryland. Discrepancies do happen; ask if they will defend their work in a court of law if needed. Ask for references.
WHAT IS AN EASEMENT?
An Easement is an interest in land owned by another person, consisting of the right to use the land for a specified limited purpose. Two common types of easements are an ingress egress easement, which gives the right to travel across another’s land to get to a nearby location, such as a road, and utility easement, which give the right to lay, construct and maintain specified utilities.
Easements are specific to the use of the parties mentioned in an easement, and are limited to the use cited. A private water line easement can not be used for public water main, and an access easement can not be used for utilities. There are many different types of easements and the laws that govern them. To find out more about an easement which affects your property you’ll need to consult the documentation which created the easement such as your deed or record plat.
WHAT IS ADVERSE POSSESSION?
Adverse possession is a method of acquiring ownership to another’s property by possession for statutory period under certain condition. In order to establish title to land by adverse possession, the claimant must show that such possession was exclusive, hostile, open and notorious, under claim of title of ownership and uninterrupted for a period of 20 years.
WHAT IS AN ENCROACHMENT?
An Encroachment is the taking possession of land that is not owned. Usually it consist of a fence, building, or driveway built over the property line. Under certain conditions if an encroachment remains in it position for the statutory period, the encroacher can claim the land actually occupied by adverse possession.
WHEN SHOULD I HAVE MY PROPERTY SURVEYED?
In general Boundary Survey should be performed before purchasing property, when dividing property and prior to the construction of any improvements, such as erecting a fence, building an addition or installing a driveway. The purchase of real estate is a big investment. Having a surveyor mark the property corners is the only way to protect your property investment. The cost of moving improvements or defending a lawsuit will out weight the cost of a survey.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LOCATION DRAWING AND A BOUNDRY SURVEY?
A Location Drawing in NOT a survey, it is a drawing which shows the property inspected and the physical representation of the buildings and other visible improvements. These inspections usually do not do much beyond confirm that the land exists and that there are improvements on it. The accuracy and level of detail shown on a location drawing varies greatly from as little as 1 foot to as much or greater than 10 feet. Location Drawings are an inexpensive inspection of the property designed strictly to satisfy the requirements of the mortgage lenders.
A Boundary Survey is for the express purpose of locating or establishing property corners and property lines of a given parcel of land. This involves thorough research of both public and private records, field research, measurements and computations. Establishing boundary lines is not only a specific process, but a legal process as well. The surveyor must consider the legal implications of conflicting boundary lines, vague deed descriptions, encroachments, prescriptive easements, adverse possession and erroneous property markers.
HOW MUCH SHOULD A BOUNDRY SURVEY COST?
The cost for most Boundary Surveys is based on the following variables:
• Complexity of legal records; the number of deeds that need to be researched are often complicated by vague, incomplete and contradictory wording.
• Size and Shape; an irregular shape has more corners and the larger the property the longer it takes to work around it.
IS THE PRICE ALONE SUFFICIENT?
A landowner called three different surveyors wanting to know the price for having his land surveyed. He was quoted prices of $2000, $1500 and $500. H e chooses the $500 survey. To make a long story short, the $500 survey was incomplete and improperly performed, so the landowner sued the surveyor for damages. The surveyor’s defense was; what did the landowner expect for $500? The price alone was sufficient to notify the landowner that the quality of the survey was sub-standard. By accepting the low price the client implicitly waived the normal survey standards and accepted the sub-standard survey.
WHY DO SURVEYORS DIFFER?
There is error in all measurements. Thanks to technology measuring today is more accurate then it was 50 years ago. In a subdivision the surveyor must measure the entire block before he can establish where your corners belong. Typically, a block measuring 800 feet in 1950, could measure 799 feet today. Who will be short the 1′?
According to Maryland law, a surveyor must use the original property markers when performing a boundary survey. As time progresses the original markers get lost or destroyed by
Member of the Better Business Bureau and Parkville-Carney Business and Professional Association.
Member of the Maryland Society of Surveyors.
Chairman of the Howard County Chapter of the Maryland Society of Surveyors.