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A surveying standard jointly proposed by the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping that incorporates elements of the boundary survey, mortgage survey, and topographic survey. ALTA/ACSM surveys, frequently shortened to ALTA surveys, are often required for real estate transactions.

Boundary Survey
The actual physical extent of property ownership, typically witnessed by monuments or markers, such as (typically iron rods, pipes or concrete monuments in the ground, but also tacks or blazes in trees, piled stone corners or other types of monuments) are measured, and a map, or plat, is drawn from the data.

Subdivision Plat
A plot or map based on a survey of a parcel of land. Lines are drawn inside it, indicating the location of roads and lots. Plats are usually discussed back and forth between the developer and the surveyor until they are agreed upon, at which point pins are driven into the ground to mark the lot corners and curve ends, and the plat is recorded. In some jurisdictions, the recording or filing of a subdivision plat is highly regulated. The final map or plat becomes, in effect, a contract between the developer and the city or county, determining what can be built on the property and under what conditions.

Construction Surveying
(otherwise "lay-out" or "setting-out") The process of establishing and marking the position and detailed layout of new structures such as roads or buildings for subsequent construction. In this sense, surveying may be regarded as a sub-discipline of civil engineering.

Topographic Survey
A survey that measures the elevation of points on a particular piece of land, and presents them as contours on a plot.

Engineering Surveys
Those surveys associated with the engineering design (topographic, layout and as-built) often requiring geodetic computations beyond normal civil engineering practice.

Boundary & Location Survey
A simple survey that generally determines land boundaries and building locations. Boundary surveys are required by title companies and lending institutions when they provide financing to show that there are no structures encroaching on the property and that the position of structures is generally within zoning and building code requirements.

Lot Survey
One lot from a plat is drawn, with any easements and setbacks that may be on it.

Foundation or Location Survey
The position of the house is measured before it is finished being built.

Physical or Final Survey
The finished house and driveway are measured, and all markers on the boundary are indicated.

Plot Plan
Proposals for a house or other building and driveway or parking lot are added to a lot survey.

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Last Updated: February 10, 2015