Survey This!

Don’t get lucky….

Here’s a cautionary tale about a lousy survey that we recently received for a small project: the house was situated on a small lot on which we were going to do an addition.  The house was located on the survey 2 feet in error closer to the side yard property line.  If it weren’t for a fortunate review by the building inspector, who had an older, more accurate version for comparsion that she found in the old city records, the addition would have been wrong-and created a real hardship for the owner, embarrassment for the surveyor and unnecessary fees in order to remedy the situation…So, it’s really important to have a good surveyTopographical Surveys

The survey is a description of a property it can be a written description, or it can be a graphic description, like a drawing -right here.

The survey is generally found with a deed to the property / building its related to.  It is a legal instrument that depicts what is on the property, features of the property,  how big the property is and where it is located.

Why surveys are so important-

Surveys are used for construction purposes, for property sales / transfer purposes,  and many other reasons.

As architects, we use a survey as the foundation of our plans and drawings.  The property and size we need to understand so we can locate the building and other improvements precisely as well as understanding its relation to its neighbors.  Many features are depicted on a survey, not just the building.  A topographic survey, includes slope of the land by squiggly lines that are called contours.  These contours illustrate which way the slopes go and any other features affected by slopes such as water bodies and related drainage.

Good surveys will also show conditions there are concealed.  Concealed conditions are important because frequently they will be exposed during the construction sequence and have the potential to create havoc and changes due to unexpected circumstances.  Another important feature of surveys is that they establish benchmarks.


Benchmarks are the method by which elevations are established meaning in vertical distance from the ground and is important to have these benchmarks because it relates the height of buildings and features in the building to the ground that surrounds the building and property.



You get what you pay for!

Many property owners feel surveys are all the same so- they shop for surveyors based solely on price.  This is a mistake.  Good surveys can keep you out of trouble, make architects and engineers lives much easier (resulting in lower fees) and also will help in the course of construction by their accuracy.  We know the host of good surveyors, and other surveyors to avoid.  Just give us a call at 914 980 5532 and we’d be happy to recommend several….ask for Steve

Since the survey is one of the first elements that we need in order to get the process of design started, we recommend a new well- detailed survey be provided to us in a digital and paper format quickly upon signing of our agreement.