Surveying GPS/GNSS, level and rod

Survey Says

Buyers Beware! What to know before buying a home

Russell Hammond - Thursday, March 29, 2018

House Hunters… In the list of items that are to be completed while buying a home, one of those listed might be to get a survey.

You contact a land surveyor and explain you are going to be buying property and would like to request a survey to be done. You hear on the other end of the phone, “Great. What kind of survey are you looking for?” Silence falls as you scramble for some kind of answer. Who knew there were more than one kind of survey.

Don’t stress out! We're going to explain the differences between the top two surveys that are commonly requested when buying or selling property.

Boundary Survey vs. Location Drawing

The process of both surveys combined can be broken down into four major steps.

  • Research
  • Field work
  • Calculations
  • Map drawing

To start both a Boundary Survey and a Location Drawing it begins with research on the property as well as the adjacent areas. Deeds on the properties are found and followed year to year looking for connections in the legal descriptions. Finding surveys that have been previously recorded is also important to cross check with the legal descriptions to find where markers should be on the properties that may have gone missing or were buried.

(Concrete Monument Stake Out)

Once all the research is gathered, this data is correlate d into field work. A survey crew goes to the property location and conducts a physical discovery of the property’s boundary lines and corners by recovering or resetting markers. This is where the differences come into play between a Boundary Survey and a Location Drawing.

A Boundary Survey will include the collection of measurements and then computing them to search for pre-set markers and reset any missing ones. The physical markers that you can see at the property and perimeter is the conclusion of a Boundary Survey. This type of survey does not include a drawing.

When ordering a Location Drawing, the calculations that have been collected in the field will be continued back at the office to produce a map drawing. This drawing will include a layout of your property with the dimensions of the house, deck, or any other structures such as a fence that are on the property. It will also show if there are any encroachments onto the property. Why is this important? Without obtaining a Location Drawing the following can be common mistakes:

  • Believing a tree line represents a property line
  • Driveway is partially over an easement
  • Fences crossing into neighboring property
  • Structures built over property lines

Lending companies commonly request that a location drawing be completed for any property being purchased in order to show clients there are no encroachments. Whether you are selling or buying property, requesting that a Location Drawing be completed is important to avoid complications down the road. The Location Drawing should not be used to locate property boundary lines and under no circumstances should it be used for the construction of any structure. It's not required to have the property's boundaries physically marked for a Location Drawing.

So, when should you order a Boundary Survey or a Location Drawing?

This depends on several different situations. It’s always best to speak with a land surveyor first to help in the decision making. Ordering a Boundary Survey would be best if you already own property and are looking to make improvements such as installing a fence. If you are looking to buy property it would be best to request a Location Drawing be completed for the ease of securing a loan as well as seeing what exactly you are purchasing. 

Knowing the differences between your options or the fact you even have options is what will make a world of change buying or selling property. You can learn more about what services our company provides with a full description of each one to assist you with your next project. If you have questions about your project, feel free to contact us and we will be glad to guide you through the process.


Licensed in Maryland & Delaware. Specializing in Worcester County, MD & Sussex County, DE
Maryland License #21329 • Delaware License #S6-0000781