Questions? 207-563-1500 |

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Boundary Survey?

A boundary survey (or property survey) determines a parcel’s property lines based on record documents which created the surveyed parcel and its abutting parcels. Within the scope of a boundary survey, a survey will identify record right of way location, record easements, encroachments, and appurtenances which are applicable. Lines of occupation, which differ from record lines, will also be identified. Prior to an opinion of boundary line location, extensive research and field investigation are required to evaluate the best available evidence. Upon completion of a boundary survey, the following services can be prepared: property/lot corners can be field identified, an accurate area for the surveyed parcel can be generated, a metes and bounds description can be prepared, a final plan which meets county registry recording requirements can be prepared, or a Surveyor’s Report can be prepared.

When is a Boundary Survey Needed?

A boundary survey is recommended prior to purchasing, subdividing, evaluating, or improving real estate. Identifying property lines, conflicts with abutter’s lines, and on-site appurtenances streamlines the design and planning process resulting in an increase in land value while minimizing potential boundary disputes or even a lawsuit.

Does a Boundary Survey Show What I Own?

No, a boundary survey depicts the location of record lines as created from the original deed or subdivision plan (operative document) which created your lot. A title attorney renders an opinion of title. The attorney may base the opinion of title on survey documents, but a land surveyor does not render the actual title opinion.

Can I Use a Mortgage Loan Inspection for Building Construction?

No! You should never use a mortgage loan inspection for private use. It has become very common for builders, brokers, and municipalities to use a mortgage loan inspection to evaluate the location of boundary lines for construction permitting and/or on-site improvements. A mortgage loan inspection is very different from an actual boundary survey. The sole purpose of a mortgage loan inspection is for use in the process of mortgage lending. No records research is performed and only the current deed in the chain of title is used and assumed correct.

What is a Mortgage Loan Inspection Used For?

A mortgage inspection was prepared for your lender and its insurer, not for private homeowner use. A mortgage loan inspection is used for only two things: To determine if a dwelling or on-site improvements were in compliance to municipal/local building setback requirements at the time of construction and if the dwelling or on-site improvements horizontally scale in or out of a Special Flood Hazard Area per Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

What is a Flood Certificate?

A flood certificate determines if a dwelling or on-site improvements to be used for loan collateral horizontally scale in or out of a Special Flood Hazard Area. Unlike a Mortgage Loan Inspection, it does not determine compliance with municipal/local building setback requirements. It is used to challenge a flood determination made by another surveyor, a real estate appraiser, or a national flood determination company.

When Can I Stop Paying Flood Insurance?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a process in place for homeowners to verify if the mandatory flood insurance purchased at closing can be removed. If a homeowner disagrees with the requirement of mandatory flood insurance, a formal application can be submitted to FEMA for review with data to determine if the initial determination is accurate. Our qualified staff can prepare this formal submission packet to FEMA for evaluation, which includes an Elevation Certificate and Application for Letter of Map Amendment/Revision. Flood insurance may not be needed.

What is an Elevation Certificate?

The main purposes of an Elevation Certificate are to provide the base data FEMA requires to determine if an improvement can have mandatory flood insurance removed, to determine flood insurance rates, and to ensure that local building compliance is met for communities which participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

What Does a Land Surveyor do for a Boundary Survey?

A professional land surveyor applies the following techniques: records research, accurate measurements of existing on-site improvements and applicable field monumentation, principles of mathematics, pertinent laws, computations, identification and preparation of final documents. A land surveyor ensures that found boundary evidence is evaluated within the required laws and standards to render professional opinion as to the location of boundary lines, encroachments, and/or appurtenances. Click here for more information on the breakdown of a boundary survey.

When Should I Engage the Services of a Land Surveyor?

You should engage a surveyor for any evaluation of land and it is most useful if other consultants are engaged to perform engineering, construction, and design services. A land surveyor can provide applicable design consultants or homeowners with valuable technical data to design and plan accurately.

Surveys can uncover inconsistencies and encroachments if they exist. All parcels have record lines, which are identified within the operative document(s) that create the parcel (i.e. deed or subdivision plan). It is not uncommon for landowners to occupy land to an extent different than the record lines. A boundary survey will depict differences in said lines, if any.

A boundary survey by this office is an insured product adding additional value to the surveyed premises.

Final document preparation is based on client needs. A land surveyor can set/reset lot corners, prepare a Surveyor’s Report, prepare a metes and bounds description which will become the body of a proposed deed for conveyance, or prepare a final plan suitable for recording at the applicable county registry of deeds.

What Information Should I Give the Surveyor?

You should inform the surveyor of the purpose of the survey. It is helpful if you let us know if you are having a boundary line dispute. Providing us with a copy of your current deed, copy of the tax map, or tax map reference, information pertaining to recent surveys in the neighborhood, or unrecorded documents, that pertain to the parcel to be surveyed which will expedite the process.

How Much Will the Survey Cost?

The survey cost will depend on the type of survey, terrain and accessibility, time of year, size and shape of the tract of land, field evidence, records/deeds research, and/or availability of previous surveys.

What is a Subdivision?

A subdivision is the second division of a tract of land or dwelling units within 5 years. A qualified land consultant should be involved in your process of creating a subdivision.

What Causes Boundary Line Discrepancies?

Discrepancies between surveys are usually attributable to two primary reasons:

The first reason is that measurement, depending upon the tools used and the manner performed, is subject to some variation. Two surveyors measuring the same line may obtain slightly different values. Both of the values should be similar, but they will only approach the true theoretical value through repetition and statistical analysis.

The second and more common reason is that measurements are made from, and decisions are based upon, written and physical evidence. If two surveyors base their opinion upon different record or field evidence, discrepancies can occur. It is the surveyor’s responsibility to seek the best evidence available, and by its very nature, that evidence is subject to interpretation. Seeking the best evidence generally takes time and effort, both of which are true attributes of a thorough survey. Boundary line discrepancies can become present for other reasons, as well.

What are NGVD 29 and NAVD 88?

National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 (NGVD 29) & North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88)

Why did NGS change from NGVD 29 to NAVD 88?

NAVD 88 was computed for many of the same reasons as NAD 83. About 625,000 km of leveling had been added to the NGVD since 1929. Thousands of benchmarks had been subsequently destroyed and many others had been affected by crustal motion, post-glacial rebound, and subsidence due to the withdrawal of underground fluids.

Distortions amounting to as much as 9 meters had been seen due to forcing the new leveling to fit the NGVD 29 height values. NGS develops and maintains the current national geodetic vertical datum, NAVD 88. In addition, NGS provides the relationships between past and current geodetic vertical datums, e.g., NGVD 29 and NAVD 88. However, another part of the parent organization, NOS (National Ocean Service), is the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS). CO-OPS publishes tidal benchmark information and the relationship between NAVD 88 and various water level/tidal datums (e.g., Mean Lower Low Water, Mean High Water, Mean Tide Level, etc.). The relationships to NGVD 29 are not published, but may be calculated independently from specified tidal benchmark sheet links to the NGS database.

Tidal benchmark information, water level/tidal datum’s, and their relationship to geodetic vertical datum’s are available at the CO-OPS web site:

For More Information

Federal Emergency Management Agency

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration