Below are some answers to some frequently asked questions regarding commercial and residential land survey projects that our clients in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC metro area have. Whether is is residential or commercial real estate questions we have the most up to date answers for surveying as it relates to construction and home building industries. If you don’t see the answer you are looking for, please feel free to contact us. We would love to help.

What Is Land Surveying?
Land surveying is the art and science of establishing or reestablishing corners, lines, boundaries, and monuments of real property (land), based upon recorded documents, historical evidence, and present standards of practice. Land surveying also includes associated services such as analysis and utilization of survey data, subdivision planning and design, writing legal descriptions, mapping, construction layout, and precision measurements of angle, length, area, and volume.
Does a Land Survey Show Me What I Own?
A land survey does not show the landowner what he or she “owns”. A land survey is the Professional Land Surveyor’s opinion of the physical location of the landowner’s title boundary (a title boundary is the boundary of such real property as defined in the recorded grant deed). The Surveyor will then locate the property on the ground, marking the corners with physical monuments, and provide you with a record of the survey map showing the results of the survey.
Are There Different Types Of Survey? What Type Of Survey Do I Need?
There are many types of land surveys, each with a different purpose. The type of survey you need for you project will be based on your project. For detailed descriptions of the types of services we offer, please see our "what we do" pages. If you have questions about your project, please contact us, we would be happy to help.
How Much Does a Land Survey Cost?
Several factors may impact the price of a land survey, including:
  • what is the type of property (commercial, residential, etc.)
  • where is the property located
  • how old are the land records pertaining to your property
  • are existing land records complete and accurate
  • what size is the property (town house lot or 500 acres)
  • how much development has occurred on the property
  • what will the land be used for
  • what information does the survey need to include
  • how much vegetation and grade change on the site
What Is The Difference Between a Boundary Survey and a Location Drawing?
I just purchased a home and my title company sent me something saying a need to decide between a boundary survey and a location drawing, what is the difference?

Fundamentally the two types of surveys are the same. They give the purchaser and lender a drawing of where property lines, improvements, building violations in relation to its neighbors and property boarders. But, the two surveys are very different when it comes to obtaining a mortgage and title insurance.

A location drawing shows the property lines and locates any and all improvements on the lot, using the legal description and any recorded easements, right of ways, etc, of which the surveyor is made aware. A location drawing has precision of one foot in each direction. A location drawing is not based on markers at the property.

A boundary survey is done by a crew of surveyors, actual property corners are marked at the property, and lines are determined where they actually are, not by the recorded plat (but checked against it). There is little to no margin of error on a boundary survey. The precision of a boundary is within 1/8 of an inch, per Maryland state regulations.

The other main difference is the cost of the two surveys. Most location drawings will vary between $200 - $300 (up to 1 acre) depending on the surveying company being used. A boundary survey is quite a bit more expensive because of the amount of time, man power and the degree of precision the boundary survey requires. All boundary surveys are quoted individually but the range for residential boundary one acre or less could be anywhere from $750 to $2000.

When it comes to obtaining a mortgage and title insurance, (in conjunction with purchasing a new home), a location drawing is typically the type of survey required.

However, if a new purchaser decides to purchase a new property and plans improvements to the property (such as a shed, fence or a deck) it is important to know exactly where your property lines are and where the building setback lines are so that you do not encroach on your neighbors property, or violate a building code which could be costly. This is where the benefit of the boundary survey would come into play and where the added expense can really save the homeowner in the long run.

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