Your Responsibilities for Contracting an ALTA Survey
When you are Contracting an ALTA Survey you have certain items that need to be provided or completed in order to get this work done.
Click the Image to Download A Checklist for Your Use in Ordering an ALTA Survey
Request for ALTA Survey
The first item is that you need to “provide a written authorization to proceed from the person or entity responsible for paying for the survey.” A completed contract is important to protect both you and the surveyor in having a clear understanding of what is to be done.
Secondly, you need to inform the surveyor which of the optional items listed in Table A, if any, are to be incorporated into the survey. There are a few items that are typically included in most surveys. Those will typically not add any additional costs. See below for more explanation of this step.
In most cases, the surveyor needs permission to enter upon the property to be surveyed, to adjoining property, and possible offsite easements. Many times this is just notification that needs to be given if there is a no trespassing law for surveyors in the state. But, in some cases, this may involve some type of written authorization from the current land owner.
Records Research for an ALTA Survey
Research of the deeds and easement documents are one of the things that set apart the ALTA survey from many other survey types. Deeds, of course, are always needed for any survey, but in this case, the adjoiners deeds may be needed to complete the survey.
Additionally, the easements or right-of-ways, called Exceptions in the Title Commitment, are needed in order to complete the work. Providing this to the surveyor is a very important part of getting the work done and is the responsibility of you, the client. It is possible that the attorney or title company may assist the client in obtaining this document. The Title Commitment should contain the following:
- The current record description of the real property (deed) to be surveyed;
- Complete copies of the most recent Title Commitment or other title evidence satisfactory to the title insurer;
- The following documents from public records:
- The current record descriptions of any adjoiners to the property to be surveyed, except where such adjoiners are lots in platted, recorded subdivisions;
- Any recorded easements benefiting the property to be surveyed;
- Any recorded easements, servitudes, or covenants burdening the property to be surveyed;
- If desired by the client, any unrecorded documents affecting the property to be surveyed and containing information to which the survey shall make reference.
Usually all but the adjoiners deed mentioned above are included in the Title Commitment document. In my opinion, this is the most important document that you will provide to the surveyor. These records are the BASIS for the survey.
Note: Make sure that the Title Commitment has “hotlinks” to the documents OR they are provided in a PDF format.
If these documents are NOT provided to the surveyor, there will, or course, be an additional fee for the surveyor to complete this work. This will also delay the completion of the work.
Table A Items for the ALTA Survey
The ALTA Standards contain most of the items that you will need. But, Table A Items are optional items, as we’ve discussed, that you can add to the survey. The surveyor needs to know which of these items will be included.
Item 1: One of the first decisions you will make is regarding Table A Item #1 – whether to set or replace monuments at the property corners. Some states require this as a part of ANY survey, so this will be done. Other states (ie. California, Utah, etc.) do NOT require the property corners to be set along with the survey. But, if you decide to have corners set in those states, they also require a Record of Survey to be filed showing the new corners. This Record of Survey usually includes an additional fee requirement.
Item 2: The address of the property, as provided, or as observed in the field.
Item 3: The flood zone classification as determined from FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
Item 4: Gross land area of the property. Note that most title insurers do not insure land area.
Item 5: Topographic surveying accomplished under this item comes in two types – first, the overall vertical relief, or ground topo using contours, and second, an “engineering level” topographic survey. The Engineering level topo survey will include any site utilities, along with their depths. For example, storm inlets and pipes are explored in order to provide sizes and flow line elevations. Sanitary sewer mains are also located by their manholes and measure downs at each manhole.
Items 6a and/or 6b: These two items only come into play if you have obtained a zoning letter or zoning information from the local jurisdiction. The zoning agent or surveyor will compare the requirements to the existing conditions on the ground.
Items 7a, 7b, and/or 7c: Permanent buildings on the property must be shown as part of the “standard” survey. These additional items mean that the dimensions of the buildings are also measured and shown, item 7a. Further, item 7b1 requires the square footage calculation of said building. Item 7b2 can ask for other areas to be calculated. Item 7c asks for the measured height of all the buildings above grade at some specified location.
Item 8: This item covers “substantial features observed” on the site (e.g., parking lots, billboards, signs, swimming pools, etc).
Item 9: The number and type of “clearly identifiable parking spaces” along with the striping of the same. This includes parking within any parking deck (though striping would not be shown here.)
Item 10: If requested, any division or party wall near a property line would be noted for this.
Item 11: Another “big ticket” item is Item 11b. This is explained in detail in this blog post. Suffice it to say that if you need the Underground Utilities located within the parcel boundary, these will have to be marked by an outside Private Underground Utility Location subcontractor. We can usually get all of the utilities within the public right-of-ways by the 811 or “One Call” system. Location of any observable utilities are also already included in the Standard ALTA survey.
Item 11b is usually NOT needed for most surveys. However, if you are planning on doing additional construction on-site, this should probably be ordered. The Civil Engineer or Architect will usually need to know where these items are located as they move forward with their design services.
Item 12: This item is only relevant in certain Governmental Agency related surveys (e.g. HUD surveys, surveys on BLM land, etc.)
Item 13: Names of adjoining owners according to the current tax records.
Item 14: As requested, the distance to the nearest intersection street.
Item 15: Orthophotography or other types of remote sensing needed. This is usually done in lieu of detailed ground measurements of improvements well within the boundary of the parcel. The orthophoto provides a very nice photo background for the survey. But, this orthophoto usually takes extra time and effort – therefore additional fees.
Item 16: Any observed evidence of earth moving, building construction, or additions to the property.
Item 17: Any proposed changes in street right-of-way lines, if such is made available to the surveyor by the controlling jurisdiction, or if anything is observed.
Item 18: Any easements off site that are benefiting the surveyed property. These should be disclosed in the Title Commitment before the survey is begun.
Item 19: Professional Liability Insurance in the amount specified by the client. USASE carries this insurance so this is therefore automatic, even if not requested.
Item 20: This item, and any additional, are for any special item that the client wants to request of the surveyor.