The Basics of Land Surveying

Land Surveying dates back to ancient history. Surveying is used for multiple projects.  A survey is done to establish a specific location of a parcel of land along with its exact acreage.  It is used to ascertain boundaries for defining an area of ownership and tax liability.  It is also used to identify a piece of property by a written legal description or to provide a review of the accuracy of an existing description. This data is of the utmost importance with regard to buying and selling land, and is also used to insure a clean and marketable title.

There are many different kinds of surveys that can be performed. A boundary survey is typically done for undeveloped land. This type of survey measures the actual physical extent of the property in question. Most surveys progress through the basic procedures regardless of the type being done. Any pertinent deeds, contracts, maps or other documents that contain a description of the property’s boundaries are located, studied and interpreted. A determination is made of what the actual property description is deemed to be, along with the locations of any physical evidence of the boundaries. This can be in the form of both natural and man-made monuments or markers that exist in the field. The property is then measured to establish the boundaries, not only using the appropriate existing monuments but with the creation and referencing of new markers where necessary. Measurements are accomplished using a total station and other surveying tools. A total station measures both vertical and horizontal angles, as used in triangulation networks. After these steps are accomplished, the property description and plat are prepared.

Interpreting the results of a land survey is not as difficult as it may first seem. For instance, a property plat will usually contain a directional orientation which is typically indicated with an arrow pointing north. It will contain the bearing and distance of each boundary line, the property lines of other properties shown on the plat, and the names of adjacent property owners listed in the areas of their property. Corner monuments, along with the names of any natural monuments (such as “Smith’s Creek”, for example) or a brief description of any unnamed natural monuments (such as the “30-inch pine tree”) are on the plat. There is also a title block containing the property’s location and name of owner, the surveyor’s name, the date the survey was performed, the scale of the plat and any other relevant data.

If you need the services of a land surveyor, ALWAYS be sure that you’re hiring an experienced, certified, and highly competent professional surveyor. You can find out if the surveyor is licensed by visiting the Board of Licensure’s website.

Call Mobile Land Surveying today at (251) 281-2081 or better yet send us a contact form request for more information concerning your land surveying needs.

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Important Things to Know When Building Your House

It is a very good idea to build your home because you will be able to get exactly what you want instead of when you buy. Of course, you may need to add some things or you may not know what you are getting yourself into. The following are some of the things that you might want know when planning to build your house.

Choosing the right builder is a big decision since this is one of the most important investments that you will ever make. Interview all possible house contractors and hire the one that understands what you want and how you want things to be done.

When interviewing the contractors make sure that you ask all the possible questions that will help you in your decision; how long have they been building houses, also if you can view any of their work, and to see references. It is also crucial to pick house plans that would lead to a good home now and in the future. This is something that your contractor should be able to help you with and they may call on the services of an architect.

Before planning and finalizing your design try to consider these things; budget, home size, home location, wall finishing, special design features, height of ceilings, stories, fixtures, outside finishing, and your time frame for completion.

If you are having a difficult time picking any of these items you should make an appointment with your contractor and/or architect. They are sure to assist in choosing right down to every tiny detail. When they have done their job of guiding you, you will have spent a lot of time because this is a detailed process which shouldn’t be short-changed. This is the reason why your choice of a builder is important.

If your builder isn’t able to advise you on home location they should refer you to a real estate agent. A real estate agent should be experienced in advising on home values in certain areas, what school districts are preferred, traffic congestion issues, your financing options, among other things.

Another stop you should make is to see a land surveyor. Land surveyors are trained and experienced in identifying features of the land that might have an impact on your new home. Some of these features are flood zones, property line encroachments from neighbors, lot dimensions, and building setbacks. Land surveyors are measurement experts. And, since your home is your most valuable asset, a survey of your land should be one of your first steps in any new construction.

Call Mobile Land Surveying today at (251) 281-2081  or fill out a contact form request for more information concerning your land surveying needs.

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What You Need to Know About Land Surveying

land surveying for Center Parcs "De Maasvallei" by Johan PaquayLand surveying is the art and science of accurately measuring parcels of land. Measurements such as dimensions, lengths, boundary lines, including structures within the area are all precisely determined through a land survey.

These measurements are used to establish land maps, boundaries for ownership or for governmental purposes. It is a detailed study of every physical and cultural property of the land, whether above or beneath it, to illustrate it in usable form.

Data is gathered through observations, research, field measurements, and data analysis for establishing property boundaries. Records from previous surveys and government records will strengthen the reports made after the survey.

A land survey is classified according to the purpose or why the survey is being performed. Some of the common types of land survey are boundary surveys, topographic surveys, partition or subdivision surveys, flood elevation survey, property line adjustment survey, and extended title insurance coverage survey.

 Other services such as mapping, construction layout surveys, judicial surveys, registered land surveys are all part of land surveying. It is an essential element in every development of the environment especially in the fields of construction, transport, communication, mapping, and most especially in the definition of legal boundaries for ownership.

The key component in the field of land surveying is the land surveyor. A land surveyor is a person that takes charge of every activity that transpires during a land survey.

It is the surveyor who makes the research and data gathering and even interpretation and analysis of all data wherein translation of all data gathered is crucial and should be checked, attested, and sworn in the law to be true and correct.

It is important then for you to choose a land surveyor with the highest degree of expertise and who can assume responsibility for the complex tasks at hand.

It should be emphasized that only a surveyor who has knowledge of the elements of geometry, trigonometry, engineering, mathematics, physics, and the law are expected to have the best land survey outcomes.

Land surveying is a profession as old as the Egyptian times yet its importance to the human race still lives on. It is the best method to settle disputes over land ownership, it gives a clear picture of what buildings are suited to be constructed in a given land area, and it’s a convenient way to determine the exact dimensions of real estate to be purchased or sold.

Optimum potential of the land you own can only be defined once you have a land survey. Whether you are planning to put it on the market, or should you want to use it for commercial purposes, a land survey must back you up if ever questions regarding everything about the land arise.

Land surveying will provide a sense of security and peace of mind to every land owner and even to the future buyers.

Land surveying will always be an integral part in protecting real estate and upholding of laws governing the utilization and distribution of your land assets.

Call Mobile Land Surveying today at (251) 281-2081  or fill out a contact form request for more information concerning your land surveying needs.

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Flooding From Excessive Rain Downstream From Earth Dams

Rose Hill Dam FailureAn article from the Daily Republic in South Dakota talks about an earthen dam that recently failed there due to a 9-inch rainfall event on July 29th of this year.

This rainfall event “overwhelmed its capacity” causing the failure of the earth dam.  There was no report of injury downstream of the dam. This dam was built in 1935, as were a number of them during the Work Programs after the Great Depression.

A Department of Game, Fish and Parks Engineer said that they “were satisfied with the condition of the dam” during inspections in 2007 and again in 2008 and that the dam breach “was caused by an extraordinary natural event and not by any structural weakness in the dam.” (Photograph by Laura Wehde/The Daily Republic)

Earth dams are almost too numerous to count around the country. In fact, you probably live a lot closer to one than you might think. A large number of dams were built over 70 years ago and, in many cases, the owners of the dams are different than when they were built. This makes maintenance and inspection of the dams less regular.

FEMA estimates “there are over 80,000 dams in the United States”, and that approximately “one third of these pose a ‘high’ or ‘significant’ hazard to life and property if failure occurs.”

In the countries worst dam failure disaster, the South Fork dam failure in May of 1889 killed over 2200 people (almost half of which were under 20 years old) in the town of  Johnstown, PA.

This is known as the “Johnstown Flood.”  A 37-foot high wall of water hit Johnstown, located 9 miles downstream from the dam. The entire city was almost destroyed, including 1600 homes and 280 businesses.

After the failure of the St. Francis Dam in California in March 1928, legislation was enacted in and around California. This, and other later legislation led to life-saving advance warning when the Baldwin Hills dam near Los Angeles, California failed on December 14, 1963.

Only 5 individuals were killed because of the advance warning which enabled the evacuation of approximately 16,500.

Even though there have been far less loss of lives in the United States from dam failures since the 1970’s, reports that…

there were 132 dam failures and 434 “incidents” between January 2005 and January 2009.

Of course, I should note that the failure of the earthen levees near New Orleans, LA during and after Hurricane Katrina are purported to be responsible for killing more than 1000 people.

The KaLoko Dam on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii failed in March of 2006 killing 7 people. In November of 2008, the developer, James Pflueger, was indicted for manslaughter and reckless endangerment in relation to the dam failure. The county of Kauai and the State of Hawaii paid out over $9 Million in settlement of lawsuits after the failure.

Cause of Dam Failures

Heavy rains cause overtopping, which is by far the most common cause of dam failures. Dam spillways and structures are typically not designed for more than a 1-percent chance (aka 100-year) storm event.

When a rain event exceeds this, the water begins to travel outside of the control spillway. This leads to erosion of the soil on the dam from the excessive amount of water traveling over it.

It is also possible for overtopping to occur from smaller rain events because of debris blockage of the outlet structure or spillways or because of settlement of the dam crest.

Foundation defects, including settlement and slope instability, cause about 30% of all dam failures.

Seepage or Piping is the cause of another 20% of U.S. dam failures. Piping is the internal erosion caused by seepage under and through the dam. It often occurs around structures such as pipes through the dam and spillways.

Seepage can also be caused by animals burrowing in the dam, by roots of trees growing on the dam, and through cracks in the dam.  All earth dams have seepage resulting from water permeating slowly through the dam and its foundation.

But this seepage must be controlled or it will progressively erode soil from the embankment or its foundation, resulting in rapid failure of the dam.

What Should You Do To Protect Home?

Since the failure of a dam causes excessive flooding, one of the best courses of action is to avoid building in a flood zone, unless you elevate and reinforce your home. You should have your area investigated for flood determination or dam failure.

Do you live downstream from a dam? Is the dam a high-hazard or significant-hazard potential dam?

To find out, contact your state or county emergency management agency and/or visit the National Inventory of Dams. There are around 2,228 dams on the National Inventory in Alabama. Of those, 636 are listed as high or significant hazard potential dams.

If you live downstream from one of these dams, find out who owns the dam and who regulates the dam. This information should also be available from the National Inventory of Dams.

Next, find out if there is an Emergency Action Plan in place. Again, consult your state or county emergency management agency. (Alabama Emergency Management Agency)

Strangely enough, Alabama is the only state in the United States that has not passed dam safety legislation.

If you want help with investigating a piece of property you are considering purchasing or of one you already purchased, please call Mobile Land Surveying today at (251) 281-2081 or better yet send us a contact form request.

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Estimate The Costs Of Flood Damage To Your Home

The tool below allows you to calculate the costs of flooding. Select a home size that approximates yours and then slide the blue button up or down for the expected depth of flooding.

Call Mobile Land Surveying TODAY for a free flood risk assessment of your home. We will review the flood maps in your area and advise whether we recommend a flood survey. CALL US TODAY at (251) 281-2081 or better yet send us a contact form request. We Give You Peace of Mind.

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