Understanding what you are adding to a survey request
An ALTA (American Land Title Association) survey is one that has a specific list of requirements. This is typically only required in commercial situations. Some of the standards had traditionally made an ALTA “more accurate” but with the way the requirements for both ALTA and Tennessee State Standards are now written, an ALTA is no more accurate than any other survey. The most notable difference with an ALTA is the price. Because of the specifics of the standards, the cost for an ALTA is often three times that of the “normal” survey.
Marking the property lines is not included in a “normal” survey (see here). There are two very different levels of this. One is “rough marking” where the lines are marked close enough to know where your boundary is and where, if clearing, you would not be over on the neighbor. It is not close enough to build a fence EXACTLY on the property line. The other option is “marking for fence“. This is where we place flags exactly online so that you can build a fence EXACTLY on the property line. Rough marking is much cheaper than marking for fence simply because of the time it takes for each. It is also worth noting that when lines are marked, we do not mark along the road(s). While you may or may not own out to the actual driving surface, most people choose to build fence where it makes the most sense to them, irrelevant of the right of way boundary.
**Line marking is dependent upon our ability to reasonably access the line. If it is too steep or the ground cover is too dense, we will not mark the lines.**
Metes and Bounds Legal Description
The literal meaning is “measure around.” It is the kind of description that says something like, “Thence with the line of Bob N46°W for 300 feet to the top of the ridge.” By requesting this, you are asking that we write a new legal description that matches the new survey. This is typically needed when the land transfers and is not on a recorded plat.
No Map Desired
This is stating that you would like to save some money and not have us make you a map. When you request this, the survey is cheaper because we do not have as much time in the field because we do not have to locate all of the improvements and whatnot. It is also cheaper because we have less office time because we do not have to spend the time drawing what was shot. The issue you run into is that we cannot produce a map at a later date if we do not do the needed fieldwork ahead of time. So if you decide later that you needed a map, we would have to go back out and locate all the stuff we didn’t do the first time and therefore would have to charge an additional trip fee on top of whatever the time in the field would be AND the office cost.
When building, it is not uncommon for the local municipality to require a site plan. This is a plat depicting what you intend on building. Depending on the municipality and the use of the property, this can be as simple as placing the structure on the survey map or as complex as requiring lighting plans, pre and post contours, drainage, landscaping, paving, etc. It would be in your best interest to reach out to the governing body (planning, codes enforcement, etc) to find out what they are going to expect from you so that you will know if this service is something you will need.
TNLDS does not do commercial site plans as they are very time-consuming (because of their complexity) and typically require engineering work. As we do not have an engineer on staff and are busy with “normal” survey work, if you are needing something like this, we suggest contacting an engineering or architectural firm in your area.
We charge per trip to stake houses if not at the time of the original fieldwork. It is not uncommon to stake a house 4 times. Once to clear the lot, once to bench out the foundation, once to stake the footer to be dug, and once to pin the corners on the footer for block. We will need the foundation plans in order to stake the house. If they are not provided before we complete the initial fieldwork, the above charge would apply per trip.
The cost of the trips is dependent on the travel distance, the topography/ground cover of the land, and the complexity of the structure. A wooded lot is harder to work in as is a very steep lot. A 4-corner garage takes much less time to stake than a 100-corner McMansion. A rule of thumb is that a “normal” house is less than 15 corners but this too is land specific. A 20 corner house on an open, flat lot is still quicker than a 6 corner house in the woods on the side of a mountain.
This is a request to either move a property line or to create a new parcel. If all affected land remains over 5 acres (no lot is changed or created that is less than 5 acres) and certain other criteria are met, then the property is not subject to planning commission review. However, if any of the criteria are not met or if any parcel will be less than 5 acres, then it will be required to go through planning. Any change in a property line is subject to this and is theoretically considered a “subdivision.” Click here for more information about the subdivision process.
A topographic survey is where we put contours on the map so that a person can tell the elevation changes of the property. There are several factors that govern the cost of this but they all basically reduce down to time. First and foremost is the size of the property. The larger the tract, the more the cost. Next is ground cover. There is a big difference in the time it will take to perform a topo on an open field versus a dense tree-covered lot with thick undergrowth. Then there is the contour interval. The smaller the interval (2-foot contour vs 20-contour) the more accurately the land is represented and the more time it takes to do. Understanding your needs for this service can help you decide which option is best for you.
Topographic Survey (from GIS): The State of Tennessee has graciously provided LiDAR data that allows for a 2-foot contour interval. This data was obtained remotely and as such, isn’t always accurate. Furthermore, if we are not able to tie the property down to State Plane Coordinates (GPS services aren’t available in the area), adding this data to a survey isn’t always perfectly aligned. For most people, this is the best alternative, given the cost of physically shooting a large or wooded tract of land.
Topographic Survey (Shot): This option is where we physically locate the elevation changes in the field. It requires time to do but is the most accurate means of developing contours. Because we have to actually locate every grade break (where the amount of slope changes) and in flatter areas, locate a grid, over the entire property, size does matter. Also, ground cover matters. Too much vegetation (think kudzu), tree cover, rocky terrain, or any number of obstacles can contribute to the difficulty of performing a topographic survey. As noted above, the cost to do this is based on time. The harder the land is to traverse or the larger it is, the more the costs go up.