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What is a site survey and why might I need one?

Site surveys are a necessary tool for determining property lines and the location of a property's features. Without these surveys, there would be no way to know where one piece of land ends and the other begins. While today's property disputes may not result in the same level of conflict as they did centuries ago, it's important for everyone to know who owns what.


A site survey will define the dimensions and location of any site, building, or site improvements of a property. The survey will also define the legal description of the property being surveyed.


Completing your due diligence when it comes to property and site surveys can save you from making a costly mistake, like starting to build on someone else’s property. There are several other reasons for performing a site survey, such as:

  • Finding property lines

  • Meeting mortgage requirements

  • Obtaining title insurance

  • Building a new structure on the property

  • Locating easements

  • Locating utilities

  • Defining a property that is being sold



Contractors often complete a site survey before construction begins. The contractor will survey a job site to determine the following:

  • Entrance/exit locations

  • Requirements for site access-temp roads

  • Concrete disposal location

  • Construction material storage locations

  • Water for the site

  • Temporary toilet location and quantity

  • Dumpster locations

  • Job site trailer location

  • Safety protocol in event of an accident

  • Location of first aid

  • Meeting location in event of fire or tornado

  • Required signage for OSHA and right to work


In commercial construction, a civil survey is required on every project. The civil survey defines the property boundaries, elevations, utilities, buildings, and paving locations. This survey includes landscaping and SWPP requirements to satisfy local code requirements. The contractor partners with a licensed civil engineer to generate a civil plan for a specific project, and then receives a certification stamp from the licensed engineer. Residential construction will require a less stringent survey completed by a surveyor or contractor.


Simply put, site surveys will ensure exactly where your property lines are located, making the building and financing process much easier. Each of the examples of a site survey is an integral part of the construction process.

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