FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS of Colorado Land Surveyors
Courtesy of Stephen Jessoe of All County Survey in Crested Butte and Gunnison CO.
Great information here about land surveys in Colorado.
What does a surveyor do?
In the State of Colorado, professional land surveying is subject to regulation to safeguard the welfare of the public and property. Professional land surveying means the application of special knowledge of principles of mathematics, methods of measurement, and law for the determination and preservation of land boundaries. Surveyors can also perform various types of land surveying, including construction layout, subdivision of larger parcels, topographic mapping, and writing land descriptions.
How do you become a surveyor?
In the State of Colorado, a licensed professional land surveyor must have 8-10 years of survey specific education and/or job experience. Furthermore, a surveyor must pass two national board exams and a state-specific exam in order to become licensed.
Types of Surveys
What is an ILC? Why do I need an Improvement Location Certificate?
In the State of Colorado, an Improvement Location Certificate (ILC) is a map prepared by a licensed land surveyor to show the visible improvements on a particular parcel of land. An ILC is typically used in real estate transactions to allow Title Companies, Lenders, and Municipalities to verify what has been built on a parcel of land. An ILC usually shows the position of a house, driveway, and visible utilities as they relate to the parcel’s boundary.
What is an Improvement Survey Plat?
In the State of Colorado, an Improvement Survey Plat is a “monumented land survey” showing all visible improvements situated on a particular parcel and within five feet of the boundaries of said parcel. A “monumented land survey” is a boundary survey in which all monuments are either found or set. If monuments are set in a platted subdivision older than 20 years old, a surveyor must also file a “Land Survey Plat” with the County Clerk Recorder’s office.
What is an ALTA survey?
An ALTA survey is a “monumented land survey” showing all visible improvements situated on a particular parcel of land and within five feet of the boundaries of said parcel. The required details of an ALTA survey are published and regulated by the American Land title Association and the National Society of Professional Surveyors. A “monumented land survey” is a boundary survey in which all monuments are either found or set. If monuments are set in a platted subdivision older than 20 years old, a surveyor must also file a “Land Survey Plat” with the County Clerk Recorder’s office.
What is a Topo or Topographic survey? Why do I need this?
A topographic survey is typically a survey map that shows all visible improvements situated on a particular parcel of land and its contour lines. Contour lines are lines of equal elevation; the steeper the slope of the land, the closer contour lines are drawn to each other. A topographic map is a valuable design tool for architects and engineers to design future improvements in three-dimensions. Often, the cost of a topographic survey saves money by solving issues before they become time-consuming problems during construction.
What about a mine claim? Can you find the boundary monuments of my mining claim?
Typically, a mine claim is a mineral survey that subdivides a strip of land from the public domain into private hands for the purposes of mineral extraction. Presently, mine claims can be used for private residences as well as mining. In Western Colorado, mineral surveys can be 80 to 120 years old. The age of the surveys can sometimes make it difficult to locate and reestablish claim corner monuments. All County Survey has had success in locating original monuments (or evidence thereof) of many mineral surveys.
What is a Cadastral Survey?Typically, a cadastral survey measures or subdivides “Sections” (one square-mile) situated in the Public Land Survey System. Most of the State of Colorado was “Sectioned” into square miles and sold into private hands. Many parcels can be defined by its location inside a particular Section. A Section can be subdivided into smaller squares by measuring to the Section’s monuments located around the perimeter of the Section. The term “40 acres” typically means 1/16th of a Section, or 1/4 of a quarter section.
I think my neighbor has his stuff on my property. What do I do?Typically, you should hire a licensed land surveyor to verify the location of the original property line monuments (or evidence thereof). Once the monuments are located, the property line can be visually defined and all parities can identify any objects that have been placed over the property line. Usually, a friendly meeting can solve any issues or misunderstandings between parties. Occasionally, a situation can turn non-friendly or turn into a case of “Adverse Possession”.
What is Adverse Possession?Adverse possession is a legal principle where a party may openly and notoriously occupy all or a portion of some else’s property for a particular length of time and gain legal title to said land in a court of law. In Colorado, the length of time shall be eighteen years. Recently, there have been rumors of modifying the legal definition of Adverse Possession.
What is an Easement? Why are they on my property?An easement is legal access for someone else to cross or use a portion of your property. Typically, easements are traded or sold for utility use and/or public good. Usually, an Easement was placed upon your property by previous owner(s). An Easement “runs with the land”, meaning it remains attached to the parcel no matter who owns it.
What is a Title Commitment? Why do I need one?
A Title Commitment is a vehicle of Title Insurance. It is a precursor to your Title Insurance Policy. Title Insurance assures that the policy holder is financially protected from adverse claims against the ownership of your property. Typically, a land surveyor will ask to see a copy of your Title Commitment to verify the land description, recorded easements, and recorded encumbrances pertaining to said property. A title commitment is a useful information tool for everyone involved in a land transaction.
I’m building a new house. Why do I need to have it “staked out”?
Doesn’t the builder take care of this?
New home construction involves a combination of several professions: surveyors, architects, excavators, foundation builders, and carpenters. Typically, homes are constructed near boundary lines requiring building setback distances.
In the State of Colorado, only licensed surveyors can legally provide staking to locate said home for construction. A carpenter or builder is not legally qualified to perform this task in the eyes of Colorado State Law.
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Benson Sotheby’s International Realty
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