(845) 359-5050Serving Westchester County and Rockland County, New York

Are there Different Types of Surveys?

There are numerous “Types” of surveys. It is difficult to say exactly how many different types of surveys there are since there are many ways to “categorize” surveys.

Surveys are sometimes categorized by based on HOW or WHERE the survey is performed. Sometimes the survey type is delineated by the REASON a survey is performed.

Here is a list of the most basic types of surveys and a brief description for each:

  • Alta Survey
    a boundary survey meeting specific standards and requirements as set forth by American Land Title Association (ALTA) and American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM). This type of survey is sometimes required by many title insurance companies, most often used for commercial properties.
  • As-Built Survey
    a post construction survey showing all major changes in relation to the completed project. It updates any revisions made.
  • Boundary Survey
    a survey of a parcel of land as described by a metes and bounds legal description or a lot, block and plat book legal description. It also shows any existing structures as they relate to the property boundaries.
  • Elevation Certificate
    also known as a FEMA certificate or Floodplain Survey, this document identifies the flood and non-flood hazard areas in which a particular property is located. The form also indicates the elevation of the building. The Elevation Certificate is used by insurance agents for the purpose of quoting your property flood insurance rates.
  • Final Survey
    a survey of a parcel of land (preceded by a Spot survey) showing all improvements made.
  • Formboard Survey
    a survey where the proposed construction forms are staked out for the builder.
  • Property Line Stakeout
    setting wood stakes (or iron pins) along the property lines of a parcel of land.
  • Spot Survey
    survey of a building under construction showing the foundation as it relates to the property boundaries.
  • Topographic Survey
    a survey of a parcel of land showing elevations throughout the boundary at a given interval.

Here are some addition survey types which apply surveys performed for specific reasons.

  • Geodetic Survey
    A Land Survey which is affected by and takes into account the curvature of the earth and astronomic observations.
  • GIS and LIS Surveying and Mapping
    Geographic Information Systems and Land Information Systems.
  • Hydrographic and Underwater Surveys
    Collect data relating to bodies of water, and may include the water depth, bottom contours and configuration, directions and velocity of current, heights and water stages, and the location of fixed objects for navigational purposes.
  • Lot Split Survey
    Are needed when you may need to divide an existing parcel of land into two or more parcels. All surveys for lot splits include a plat of the new parcels and the required legal description to record the split. It is important to note the size of the original parcel as well as the size of the proposed new parcel(s) in the comments section of the request form in order to receive accurate quotes.
  • Lot Survey, (aka Site Plan Survey or Plot Plan Survey)
    A combination of boundary and topographic surveys for preparation of a site plan to be used for designing improvements or developments, and obtaining government building permits.
  • Mining and other Subsurface Surveys
    A survey that determines the location and dimensions of underground parts of a mine, including the natural and artificial features of the mine, both above and below ground. These surveys are done with both vertical and horizontal control, locating the features in a three dimensional manner.
  • Mortgage Inspections: (Not necessarily a Land Survey!)
    Are not used for consistent purposes in all States. They are often a product that is provided on residential loans. A drawing may or may not be provided. Be aware that many of these “Mortgage Inspection” surveys are NOT BOUNDARY SURVEYS. Often they are required by lending institutions. Fences and other improvements should not be constructed based on a mortgage inspection. This is because boundary lines are not determined on many “Mortgage Inspection” surveys. Look for the “Certification” of the Land Surveyor, which usually includes the signature with the Land Surveyor’s license number, and State of Practice.
  • Mortgage Location Survey: (Not necessarily a Land Survey!)
    These surveys are typically used by title companies and mortgage lenders to obtain proof that the major improvements on the property are free of encroachments onto neighboring properties or into recorded easements. Mortgage surveys do not establish property corners or property lines and may not be used for building purposes.
  • Plot Plan Survey, (aka Site Plan Survey or Lot Survey)
    A combination of boundary and topographic surveys for preparation of a site plan to be used for designing improvements or developments, and obtaining government building permits.
  • Quantity Surveys
    Obtains measurements of quantities, usually in conjunction with a construction process, earthwork, etc. Often times the Land Surveyor works closely with a Civil Engineer, Architect, or Landscape Architect.
  • Record or As-Built Survey
    A survey performed to obtain horizontal and or vertical dimensional data so that a constructed facility may be delineated, i.e. foundation survey, or as-built of improvements. Specifically, an As-Built Survey is a survey to physically locate structures and improvements on a parcel of land, generally for mortgage purposes. This does not always include boundary monumentation.
  • Registered Land Survey (aka R.L.S.)
    A survey of “registered” (Torrens-title) land, usually done to shorten lengthy legal descriptions, or divide larger parcels of “Torrens-title” land into smaller tracts.
  • Route Survey
    Reconnaissance, preliminary survey and location survey for an alignment or linear type feature such as a road, railroad, canal, pipeline or utility line.
  • Site Plan Survey, (aka Lot Survey or Plot Plan Survey)
    A combination of boundary and topographic surveys for preparation of a site plan to be used for designing improvements or developments, and obtaining government building permits.
  • Subdivision Survey
    Also known as a “Subdivision Plat”, it is the subdivision of a tract of land into smaller parcels, showing monumentation and mathematical survey data on a map, conforming to local Government (usually County) ordinances.
  • Topographic Survey
    A Land Survey locating natural and man made features such as buildings, improvements, fences, elevations, land contours, trees, streams, etc. This type of survey may be required by a government agency, or may be used by Engineers and/or Architects for the design of improvements or developments on a site.