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Existing Conditions: Look Before You Build

existing conditions survey

Imagine you are about to lie down on the ground. What do you do first? That’s right: you check the site for broken glass, pointy rocks, creepy crawlies, and other things that aren’t good to lie down on. It’s instinct.

Now, imagine you’re planning to build something: a house, a gas station, a pharmacy, a creamery – you name it. What do you do first? The same instinct should compel you to order a site-planning survey.

What are Existing Conditions Survey?

An Existing Conditions Survey doesn’t pinpoint the locations of every stone and centipede on a piece of land. Even so, it’s quite detailed. It maps out many of the parcel’s most important features, including:

  • Boundaries
  • Topography
  • Existing structures
  • Trees & shrubs
  • Driveways
  • Utilities
  • Physical Improvements
  • Bodies of water
  • Wetlands
  • Zoning Information
  • Recorded Easements

Insurance providers and attorneys may find value in the information contained by existing condition surveys. Even so, existing condition surveys are typically ordered for the purpose of new construction.

Why Is an Existing Condition Survey Useful for Construction?

Land is seldom ready for construction without preparation. Brush must be cleared. Large trees must be cut down. Some or all of the land must be leveled, or partially removed if the project includes cut and fill foundation work.

The importance of building on level ground cannot be overstated. Uneven terrain leads to structural issues, which are among expensive issues a property owner can have. Ungraded land can also have drainage issues that lead to basement flooding.

In essence, an existing condition survey tells the contractor or foreman everything they need to know before they break ground. It makes the all-important planning phase of their job easier, as well as produce accurate results.

Although its legal uses are limited, an existing condition survey can spare the property owner an enormous legal headache down the road. Knowing the exact locations of boundary lines will help the builder avoid creating an expensive encroachment. No one wants to discover part of their house is located on their neighbor’s lawn.

What Does an Existing Condition Survey Not Have?

An Existing Condition survey is not comprehensive. Unlike an ALTA survey, it may not show plot recorded easements or potential encroachments. Unlike a subdivision survey, it does not break the land down into smaller parcels. An existing condition survey also may omit the legal, economic, social, and political constraints that would have been detailed by a location survey.

What Happens During an Existing Condition Survey?

Different projects may call for different steps, but an existing condition survey usually goes like this. Once we have reviewed the property’s deed, we arrive at the site with boundary and topographic surveying equipment. We pinpoint the parcel’s boundary corners. We collect the elevation data from several points throughout the parcel. We then analyze, validate and collate the data until they form a correct survey of the site. Once we have delivered our client’s final documents, it is only a matter of whether they would like us to monument property corners.

If you are planning construction or a land development project in Minnesota, then you have already discovered your solution to all your surveying needs. Contact Compass Consultants today to schedule service at your property.