What is an as built and why do you need one?

I would like to thank surveyor Shane Holt for being a guest blogger this week. He has provided some great information about as built surveys.

1848As Built Surveys by Shane Holt

An as built survey is an important document involved in real estate transactions.

How they are done is sometimes confusing to the average person. Having done thousands of them, I can assure you that each one is a bit different from others. The old adage, “location, location, location,” so well known to realtors applies as much in surveys. But the reason is not the same. To a surveyor location translates to subdivision, and every subdivision has it’s own challenges and difficulties.

To perform an as built or boundary survey you must have reliable “survey control.” What this means is sufficient monumentation (property corners, centerline, or boundary monuments) to accurately retrace the boundary as originally surveyed. That is why a surveyor’s first question to a survey inquiry is, “what is the legal description?” Some subdivisions are notorious for being extremely difficult to determine a boundary or property line. Usually these types of subdivisions were done before any checks or controls were in place to catch obvious errors. As a rule of thumb, the older the subdivision, the more it takes to retrace the boundaries. A few notable exceptions are the downtown area, South Addition, and Fairview areas in Anchorage. Activities such as landscaping, fencing, and utility work in streets all contribute to destroy monuments we need and use regularly. This is why there is not one price that covers all surveys. Some may take 4‐5 times the effort and time of another survey across town in a different location.

The surveyor uses these monuments to measure between each other and compare to the recorded plat. Only when you have conforming measurements can you proceed to locate improvements and buildings on a lot. GPS and other modern survey equipment have helped tremendously in the retracement and boundary work of today. A GPS network is like a spider web of control points used to compute boundaries, and every added point makes the network stronger.

What surveyor should you choose? Ask questions, make sure you will be getting a CAD drawing, and that the surveyor understands what the finished product will be. Remember: there are different types of surveys. Make sure you are getting the right one. An as-built is the most common. People building a new home will need a site plan, with an as-built at the end. Some people only want corners set on a vacant lot or otherwise. Be prepared with the right information and legal description to get what you need.

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