LAND & PROPERTYLand Survey   

Land Survey

A land survey is generally meant to ascertain and mark existing or proposed land ownership boundaries.  Land surveys are normally accompanied by a map or ‘certificate of survey’ of the subject property prepared and signed by a licensed land surveyor.  Oftentimes structures and other improvements such as fences and driveways are shown on the map.  Topographic features may also be shown.  Chapter 326 of Minnesota State Statutes requires that all boundary surveys be performed by or under the supervision of a Minnesota licensed surveyor.  The web site for the state licensing board can be found at:


Plats Public Land Survey System (PLSS) Types of Land Surveys Applicable Statutes and Ordinances Land Survey Division Business Plan
  • American Land Title Association (ALTA) Survey
    A survey made for the purpose of supplying a title company and lender with survey and location data necessary for the issuing of title and/or mortgage insurance.  A detailed map is required to be done to “ALTA” specifications.
    Specifications of this type of Survey include, but are not limited to, determining property lines, location of improvements, identifying all easements, utilities and other conditions affecting the property.  Any ALTA Land Survey must meet the "Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys" as adopted by the American Land Title Association, the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, and the National Society of Professional Surveyors.
  • Boundary Survey
    A boundary survey identifies property corners and property lines of a parcel of land. Boundary surveys are typically performed to obtain building permits, to resolve property disputes, and for erecting fences.  Easement lines may also be located, if requested, with this type of survey.
  • Cadastral Survey
    A survey of property boundaries.  The Public Land Survey System is a cadastral survey. 
  • Construction Survey
    Survey measurements made prior to or during construction to control elevation, horizontal position, dimensions, and configuration, exp. stakeout of line and grade for buildings, fences, roads, etc.
  • Control Survey
    A Land Survey providing precise locations of horizontal and vertical positions of points for use in boundary determination, mapping for aerial photographs, construction staking, or other needs.
  • Court Exhibit or Judicial Survey
    Analysis of various legal descriptions and survey maps; field locating of record, existing monuments, and physical features; and mapping showing this information for the purpose of presenting a visual exhibit to be used in a courtroom.  In some areas of the US, this may also me known as a “Torrens” Survey of “Registered” or “Torrens” land.  A “Judicial” Survey is a Land Survey ordered by the courts system, at times setting “Judicial Land Marks", also referred to as “JLM’s”.  Some also may refer to these as "JM's" which stand for "Judicial Monument", or "Judicial Marker".
  • Elevation or Floodplain Survey
    Elevation surveys determine the elevation of various sections of a building or land. Typically these are used to aid in building plans and to determine if a property is in a flood zone.
  • Geodetic Survey
    A precise survey covering a large portion of the earth.
  • GIS and LIS Surveying and Mapping
    Surveying for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Land Information Systems (LIS).
  • 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.  Local subdivision requirements should always be followed.
  • Lot Survey, (a.k.a. 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:
    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 Inspections” 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 Inspections”.
  • Mortgage Location 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.
  • 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 (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.
  • 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 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.
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