A property survey is a drawn record of the boundaries, orientation and easements associated with a lot of land. If you own a home, the chances are you already have one, as lenders and title companies often commission a survey before they close on a home purchase. Even if you did not receive a home purchase survey -- surveys are not mandatory in every state -- the county clerk, local tax assessor or engineering department may hold a survey or land map on record.
Help From Your Homebuying Team
If the survey relates to your own property, check whether the settlement agency or attorney who performed the closing services on your home has a copy with their paperwork. Your real estate agent and the surveyor himself may also have a survey on file. Often, a title company will commission a survey and attach this to the title report or title insurance policy to show that your title is clear. Ask the title company and your lender for a copy of this document. Some companies may charge a nominal copying fee.
Public Record Plans
If a survey was never conveyed to you when you bought your home, or the survey relates to someone else's property, visit your local recorder's office. Search online for contact details. Few owners are required to file surveys with their property deed, so the chances of you locating an actual survey are slim. However, the county recorder may hold a plat map showing all the lot outlines, streets and building lines within a subdivision. Plat maps are drawn to scale and may be sufficient to show the boundary lines and dimensions of the subject property.
Building Work Blueprints
Offices such as your county's engineering department or building inspector may hold a copy of your survey if this was submitted as part of a building permit application. Some counties may even maintain a map room where members of the public can view building footprints and lot dimensions for properties within the county's database. If your property is a simple city lot, try the tax assessor's office. The assessor typically reviews tax maps, similar to plat maps, when assessing the tax value of a property. Find contact details online.
Starting from Scratch
If you need to get a new survey drawn, contact several surveying firms and ask for a cost estimate. Residential surveys usually cost between $250 to $1,000 depending on the complexity of your lot. It's always worth paying for a professional survey over a DIY version. Surveyors are trained to spot problems with your lot such as fences or driveways that encroach on a neighbor's land. Issues like these, left unresolved, can delay a real estate transaction or lead to costly disputes.