1.) I was given a survey drawing when I bought/refinanced my house. Can I use that to figure out my lot lines now that I’m putting in a new drive/fence/garage ?
No, I’m afraid not. You probably have a Mortgage Location Survey. They are a type of survey used for the purpose of securing title insurance, and are usually ordered by a bank or title insurance company to inform them about possible encroachments onto the property being insured. As a matter of fact, most of this type of survey drawing has a fine print statement on it that says that “this drawing is not to be used to determine boundary lines”.
2.) If I want to find my property lines, what do I need ?
What you need is a Boundary Survey, frequently called a pin survey. In a boundary survey you have markers found or set at the property corners in order to determine where the property lines are. Also included is a drawing, or plat, of the survey showing the lines, the distances, the area, and the types of markers at the corners.
3.) What do you do when you perform a boundary survey ?
Everything starts with research at the courthouse. Information obtained there includes copies of record plats, survey drawings, deeds, road right-of-way records, and whatever information could be helpful. The fieldwork includes finding any survey markers that are necessary, calculations, and setting markers at corners that do not have one. The markers that are set are 30” long 5/8” iron pins with a plastic cap set on top. The plastic cap has my name and registration number on it. Normally, I set the pins flush with the ground (out in the woods I leave them sticking up 6” or so), and set a wood stake with colored ribbon on it so the pin can be easily found.
4.) The courthouse/bank/my realtor says I have to get a survey before I sell my house. What is this about ?
Your deed has been deemed to be a “conditional transfer” or “not acceptable” for transfer. The legal description on your deed has been checked by the tax map office at the courthouse, and needs to be corrected. The only way to correct that description is with a boundary survey. Along with the survey drawing, a written legal description is prepared by the surveyor, and that description becomes a part of the new deed. A deed that is “not acceptable” needs to be corrected before it transfers. A deed that is stamped “conditional transfer” can pass once (if the new owner is agreeable), and then before it passes again must be corrected.
5.) I’ve been told that I need to buy flood insurance. What do I do and can I get out of paying for insurance ?
The first step is to get a specific form filled out that is called a Flood Elevation Certificate. Measurements are taken to determine the exact elevation above sea level of your house and surrounding ground, and the elevation of the flood plain as shown on the flood maps. This will compare the difference between the two, and show whether you are above or below the flood level. If your building is above the flood level, but part of your property is actually in the flood plain, then you can have prepared a document called a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment). This form is filled out and sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the Elevation Certificate. FEMA will evaluate the information, and might then be able to release you from paying insurance. Hopefully, things will go your way, but it’s FEMA’s call.