In simplest terms, land surveying is a scientific or legally sufficient method to determine location of points on the surface of the earth, the particular angles formed by such points and the distance between them. History reveals that, even prior to the construction of Great Pyramids, land surveys were quite popular among ancient Egyptians. There is a proper evidence to support the premise that land surveys are in practice since 3000 BC.
Land surveys include the various elements of geometry, math, physics, engineering and law into their determination. Importance of land surveys is recognized in various fields for example- topographic surveys are used by geologists and cartographer in order to create elevation maps. Archaeologists also refer to current and historic surveys from time to time prior to conducting excavations.
Different types of land surveys used in modern times are-
- American land title association (ALTA) survey
This survey is done in United States. There, the mortgage lending industries and real estate rely on whether the title to the property can be insured or if it is marketable. Hence, it means whether an insurance company would consider taking the risk of issuing the policy insuring ownership, or if the land and structure attached to it can readily be transferred without any fear of outside claims.
The ALTA survey is merely a boundary survey that meets and exceeds the standards set in various states. They are said to be legally sufficient in many cases. A written authorization from client is required in this survey. Some of the important issues discussed in this survey include- boundaries, structural locations, easements, encroachments, estoppels etc.
- Cadastral survey
Every country in this world has some or the other kind of land registry records system that identifies and demarcates the boundaries. For examples, in United States, the Public Land Survey System keeps plats, diagram, sketches, maps etc, which exclusively establishes the boundaries of all public and government use lands in the country. This is known as cadastral system. ALTA surveys include cadastral survey, as former is a comprehensive one.
- Boundary survey
Those government offices which issue building permits often require a minimum of boundary survey or a sketch before they grant commencement of construction work. It is important that property lines are clearly defined in these surveys so that it is possible to spot issues such as easements and encroachments.
- Site planning survey
In addition to demarcating boundaries and obtaining permission to buildings, architects and engineers also need a topographic survey which is capable of identifying elevation features in order to create a site plan.
- Subdivision survey
Construction of new housing complexes that includes several units arranged in neighborhood blocks often requires that a tract of parcel of land be divided into smaller parts. To this effect, a subdivision survey that includes topographic elements must be used. This type of survey is used only for construction purposes.
- Court exhibit or judicial survey
Often, in a litigation related to property issues, a court has a power to appoint an expert in the field of land surveys to provide with detailed analysis of legal descriptions, prior surveys, maps etc.