Land Boundary Surveys

At Zenith Land Surveying our emphasis is on the expert application of the art of retracement land surveying. Since the vast majority of land in the USA has already been surveyed, original land surveys are uncommon in this era, usually taking the form of subdivisions of land. The general public doesn’t understand the important differences between original and retracement land surveying, nor should they need to. Retracement Land Boundary Surveying is now more of a legal art form than a technical exercise in measurements. As Professional Land Surveyors we are tasked with making determinations about the boundary evidence and producing a map (plat) describing those decisions by means of mathematical annotations. We utilize highly technical and advanced equipment to make very precise measurements in the field, but in our final analysis of a land boundary, our professional decisions should be made based on the law and the evidence and not on the measurements. The analysis of the evidence is what makes our final boundary determinations accurate instead of merely precise. At ZLS our emphasis is on applying our expert knowledge as professionals to this fundamental aspect of land surveying. It is how we can call ourselves “Professional Land Surveyors”.

Monumented Land Survey (MLS):

A Monumented Land Survey (MLS) is the form of survey known commonly as a “Boundary Survey”. This is the process in which a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) will complete research and analysis on the title of a property, go into the field and make a thorough effort to recover existing monumentation and other forms of evidence related to the property boundaries, record precise measurements of the locations of the evidence, and after completing an extensive review of all the evidence (documentation, monumentation, occupation, testimony, etc) set monumentation at all property corner locations where existing monuments are not found. Upon completion of a MLS, the PLS is required by Colorado State Statutes to then document the survey in one of several forms of plats.

Land Survey Plat (LSP):

A LSP documents the property boundaries. It also shows improvements on or along the property boundaries that may or may not encroach across the property line along with both supportive and conflicting boundary evidence documented by the Professional Land Surveyor while coming to conclusions about the location of the property line. A LSP does not document all improvements on the property, but only those that have some relation to the property line location. Additional specific improvements can be shown at the request of the client. A LSP does not typically document encumbrances on the property, such as easements, but it can if an appropriate title report is provided. If encumbrances are to be shown, by Colorado State Statute all of the encumbrances documented in the title report must be shown, not just selected encumbrances.

Improvement Survey Plat (ISP):

An ISP documents all that a LSP includes and in addition must document all permanent improvements on the subject property and also just beyond the subject property limits, along with all encumbrances on the property documented by a title report, plus physical evidence of possible encumbrances for which title documentation may not be available.

ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey (ALTA Survey):

An ALTA Survey is a form of Land Survey Plat (LSP) that is required to meet numerous detailed specifications established by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS). The requirements that the Professional Land Surveyor must meet are described in a ten page document, the last three pages of which is a list of Table A optional items for the survey plat. ALTA Surveys are typically only required for commercial properties.

LSPs, ISPs and ALTA Surveys are all required by law to be deposited in the public record in the county where the subject property lies.

Improvement Location Certificates (ILC):

An ILC is typically used by mortgage and title companies when recording residential property transactions within an established and well documented subdivision where no conflicting boundary evidence is expected to be found and the property lines are expected to be well established. The statutory requirements for an ILC are far below that of a MLS, LSP, ISP, or ALTA Survey. An ILC shows a graphical depiction of the record information, not a survey of the property lines. An ILC also shows the current improvements on the property. An ILC should never be misconstrued to be a survey of the property lines. State law requires that the PLS include in the certification the phrase “…it is not a land survey plat or improvement survey plat…”. Additionally, ILCs are not intended for, nor should they ever be used for building new structures or fences. The required certification also states ” that it is not to be relied upon for establishment of fence, building, or other future improvement lines.”