What is a boundary survey?

A boundary survey is a property survey used to measure the perimeter of any property to locate the boundary line. Only after deciding the boundary, the area of a property can be computed. Bases on the area, the land can be subdivided, sold or any building can be constructed on the land. The property corners are first marked with any type of markers, such as rebar, metal survey markers, pipe, or wooden flags, and are then labeled for identification. The markers should be visible from all sides of the property to ensure optimum visibility. Any paint that assures visibility is used to indicate the boundaries in between the corner points. The procedure of delineating property lines must adhere to legal description and guidelines and it is an important part of the land registration system. This type of surveying is also called cadastral surveying.

Before buying, subdividing, developing, or building on the land, a boundary survey is recommended. Relocating a structure or settling a boundary issue can be avoided by surveying the land parcel before these operations. Determining the position of land property lines can help to reduce real estate transaction risk, many titles and loan businesses demand it to reduce transaction risk.

Types of boundary surveys

Original survey

A survey that is carried out to find and characterize the property lines that have not been previously detailed in papers, conveying an interest in the real property is referred to as an original survey. It creates new property lines that did not exist in the past.

Retracement survey

It traces the footsteps of the previously established property lines by original survey.

Process of the boundary survey


Before beginning the boundary survey, the surveyor should meet the client to get the deed information of the parcel of land. If the client does not have the deed copy, the surveyor is required to collect the deed information. Then the surveyor researches the land records to obtain paperwork and deed information related to the property called registry research. The deed information can be received from any state government office or municipal office. The surveyor should also gather maps of adjoining or neighboring property boundaries, any county documents, street layouts, and any other available records of surveys conducted around the property of interest. This guarantees that there is enough boundary evidence and also helps to determine the presence of encroachment, easements, and right-of-way.


In this stage, the surveyor tries to locate the monuments and this process is called monumentation. Monuments are any natural occurrence such as trees or man-made materials such as a fence that marks the boundary of the property. These monuments help delineate property corners. When such monuments are not present on the plot, markers are used to mark the points. A traverse is conducted around the property once the approximate positions of the land boundary are determined.

Drawing preparation

The surveyor compares the acquired data to the records collected from the research. Distances are calculated from the nearest traverse point when the chosen property corners best match with all of the data. Following this, the features are drawn, the distances of these features from the boundary line are presented, and a map detailing all the information related to the boundary is generated for the customer.

Factors affecting the cost of a boundary survey

Dimensions of the property

Size is an important parameter in deciding the cost of the survey. Properties with a large area will take more labor and time to complete the survey while a property with a smaller area will take fewer labor hours. Rectangular and square parcels of land may reduce the survey cost as the boundary lines are easier to delineate.


If the location of the property is easily accessible, it reduces the travel time and indeed reduces the total transportation cost required to travel to the location.


The presence of vegetation at the site disrupts the visibility and line of sight. This also causes problems in delineating the boundary lines of the parcel of land. To perform the complete survey, the surveyor will need to travel to the rear and sides of the property, thus increasing the time taken for surveying.


The boundary survey taken on uneven grounds such as mountainous terrain makes delineating the boundary lines a difficult and time taking process. So this can result in charging heavy costs by the land surveyor.

Property age

The age of the property has a significant effect on the surveying cost. The older the property, the more is the difficulty in gathering the deed information and monuments. This might make the surveyor charge more survey a particular parcel of land.

Context and Applications

In the construction and infrastructure industry, the concept of boundary survey plays a crucial role in determining the areas which decide the value of a property. This topic is taught in the following disciplines:

  • Bachelors of Technology in Civil Engineering
  • Masters of Technology in Civil Engineering
  • Bachelors in Science in Land Surveying
  • Masters in Science in Geodesy and Geo-informatics

Practice Problems

1. The act of measuring and marking the boundaries of a property is called-

  1. Topographic surveys
  2. Boundary survey
  3. Bounds description
  4. Hydrographic survey

Answer: Option b

Explanation: The corners and boundary lines of a particular land are located via a boundary survey.

2. What is the full form of ALTA surveys?

  1. American Land Title Acquisition
  2. American Land Title Insurance
  3. American Land Title Association
  4. American Legal Title Company

Answer: Option c

Explanation: The American Land Title Association (ALTA) represents the title insurance business as a trade association. The ALTA Survey is a thorough land parcel map that depicts all of the insured estate's current improvements, utilities, and notable observations.

3. The right to get access to someone else's property for a limited and specific purpose is termed as-

  1. Easement
  2. Retracement
  3. Recent posts
  4. Plat

Answer: Option a

Explanation: The easements are indicated by dashed lines in a survey. Easements are rights, that are granted for a specified purpose. The utility company will have access to that area of a property to repair, upgrade, or build utilities under this easement.

4. The person who produces a map is called-

  1. Cartographer
  2. Original surveyor
  3. Surveyor
  4. Estimator

Answer: Option a

Explanation: A person who draws or produces a map is called a cartographer.

5. Which of the following are the types of land surveys?

  1. Boundary survey
  2. Leveling
  3. Theodolite surveying
  4. None of the above

Answer: Option a

Explanation: Boundary survey is a type of land survey used to mark the boundaries of properties while leveling refers to identifying the height of a place with respect to a reference datum and theodolite surveying involves measuring horizontal and vertical angles between points in a specific area.

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