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location surveys

If Compass Consultants had an office in Pisa, Italy during the 12th century, then the world would not have gotten one of its most famous buildings. We would have carefully scrutinized the proposed site of Pisa Cathedral’s new bell tower, done our research, and reported to our client that the ground was far too soft to support a 183 marble structure.

By the year 1990, its unstable foundation had caused the bell tower to list 5.5° to the side – not so much that it fell over before remedial work would reduce the tilt to just 3.97°. Sure, the Italians could have eliminated the tower’s tilt altogether, but Pisa Tourismo surely would have had a conniption fit if they did.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was a happy accident. But you should not expect the same outcome if you build on unsuitable land! Heavy clay and sandy soil are both common throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, which means you simply cannot do without a location survey before breaking ground on a new construction project.

What Is a Location Survey?

A location survey is an in-depth analysis of a proposed site for development. It assesses the physical, environmental and legal constraints of the site, compares them to the project’s requirements, and determines whether the land is suitable for the project.

If a location survey produces a positive result, the builder may next proceed to conducting a feasibility study which assesses the economic, social and political factors of the project. (Of course, if you’re only building a house on land you already own, then social and political factors are likely to be moot as far as the scope of the project is concerned.)

When Do You Need a Location Survey?

You should always get a location survey before planning new construction. It won’t just spare you the enormous expense of attempting to build on unsuitable terrain, such as wetland, or too close to other features, such as existing buildings. It will also ensure that the proposed construction is fully compliant with all existing zoning laws. The penalties for violating these laws can include fines, demolition, and even criminal charges in some cases.

Your general contractor may attempt to assure you that a lot is suitable for construction, and that a location survey would be superfluous. They may be correct, but you should still commission a location survey all the same. For all their other experience, a contractor does not possess the same training and equipment as a professional land surveyor, and cannot say with total certainty whether it’s safe and legal to build. A contractor is also probably unfamiliar with every zoning variance the proposed construction site is subject to – another field of expertise which solely belongs to local land surveyors.

When You Build, Build With Confidence

Are you in the earliest stages of construction planning in Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota? Leave nothing to chance! Contact Compass Consultants today to schedule your location survey, as well as the ALTA survey, construction survey, and any other survey you need to proceed with the utmost confidence. We promise you this: no leaning building in the Midwest is ever going to become a tourist attraction.