New ALTA Survey Standards from ALTA/ACSM

The ALTA Survey Standards have been revised and are effective February 23, 2016. Recently, committees from both the NSPS and ALTA ALTA Survey Standardsmet to review and approve the upcoming standards.

The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), which is the trade organization representing surveyors nationwide, has replaced the American Congress on Surveying & Mapping (ACSM).

ALTA is the American Land Title Association,  and is the trade association and national voice of the abstract and title insurance industry.

Changes to the ALTA Survey Standards

The NSPS website has a “Summary of Significant Wording Changes” document, which spells out changes to the ALTA survey standards from the 2011 edition to the 2016 edition. Some of the noted changes are:

  • Expands on documents to be provided to the surveyor and clarifies what the surveyor is to do if not provided with samensps-logo
  • Requires the location of observed buildings on the property
  • Requires only monuments on the same side of a right-of-way to be located for streets
  • Gives an access caviat for locating improvements near the property boundaries and reason for non accessibility
  • Further adds to and expands the survey of easements and servitudes and noting of such
  • Limits the extent of cemetery location to the perimeter
  • Allows the surveyor to choose the Degree of Precision for measurements to be shown
  • Requires the current record legal description and any new legal description prepared to be shown on the map with differences noted
  • Building locations are to be dimensioned from boundary lines as deemed appropriate
  • Additions and changes to the Presentation of the survey drawing or map
  • Digital images of the plat or map may be used in lieu of hard copies
  • Revises Table A items which may be requested by clients

While none of these are major changes, surveyors AND those ordering an ALTA survey should be aware of them.

One item that remains as an option on Table A, is the professional liability insurance item for the particular survey project.

Many surveyors don’t carry professional liability insurance because of the expense of this type of insurance. This will significantly change the price of an ALTA survey if the item is checked.

Surveyors and Clients should discuss the Table A items in detail each time anyway, but this is a big red flag that should be addressed. We’ll see how this continues to play out.

Qualification Based Selection (QBS) for Alabama ALTA Surveys

Those ordering ALTA surveys in Alabama should be aware of the recent tightening of the requirements for NO BIDDING by surveyors as communicated by the Alabama Board of Licensure. This puts a land surveyors license in jeopardy if he/she bids on a project.

Maps & Resources for ALTA Surveys in Alabama

Subdivision Development: Issues We Face

Developing a subdivision is a somewhat complicated job. Land Surveyors and Engineers face many obstacles during the process of subdividing a parcel of land. One more has just been added to the mix.

According to a recent email that I received from our local City Planner and City Engineer about a meeting they had with the new USPS local postmaster, subidivision developers must now get the “mode of mail delivery” approved by the local Postmaster. AND, that approved mode will likely not include curbside mail boxes. The postmaster sent them a letter to backup his opinion and plan for this process. In part, it says



Some Popular Land Surveying Myths Debunked

Land surveying is an important process for land owners. A land survey helps find information on properties and pieces of land that otherwise may not be found. Unfortunately, not a lot of people appreciate land surveying. In fact, some people even think that land surveying is not important at all.

Here are some popular land surveying myths and the truth about them:

If I can find the stakes, I don’t need a land survey – A lot of people seem to think that finding the stakes around their property is good enough. Not really. Finding stakes around your property indicates that there may have been surveying done on it, but that’s it. In actuality the stake isn’t the corner.

Corners are required to be metal if they have been placed within the last 20 years or more. The stake doesn’t tell you what kind of survey has been made, or what the results of the survey are. It can’t even tell you if the surveying has indeed been done on your property or your neighbour’s. Not all lots are rectangular. In fact most are not. I’ve seen dozens of times where a pin was used for building a fence and the true corner was 5 to 20 feet away.

Encroaching over property lines rarely happens – It does happen, a lot in fact. There are too many instances when an owner decided to have his property surveyed for an entirely different reason, and the surveyor found out that he is in fact encroaching into his neighbour’s property or vice-versa. This causes many problems and tests even the best of neighbours. I personally know TWO people who have had heart attacks over land disputes.

The fence line is the property line – not always true. In fact, not even close to being always true. Fences in town may “usually” be on the property line. BUT, in a lot of cases they are not. It just depends on how detailed the fence installer or previous land owner were when constructing the fence. In rural settings, fences are only sometimes on the property lines.

When farmers or land owners ran fences in the past they sometimes “meandered” or went from tree to tree. The tree wasn’t always on the line but it saved the land owner putting up a fence post. The only way to know is to have the line surveyed. A word of caution here, sometimes fences that are not challenge over a long period of time can become the property line. This process is called adverse possession.

Consider having your land surveyed an investment. How much cheaper is a $500 survey compared to paying thousands of dollars to have your entire fence moved a few feet to the right?

For land surveying in Auburn, Alabama, call Pro17 Engineering at (888) 776-3610 or send us a message using our contact form.