Grand Prairie Land Surveying

Welcome to Grand Prairie Land Surveying

Land Surveyors | Grand Prairie Land Surveying

Welcome to our new website. We are Land Surveyors and Civil Engineers providing services to the general public, contractors, and companies in the City of Grand Prairie, and Smith County, Texas area. If you have any land surveying needs (see the list above in the menu bar) in the Grand Prairie area, you’ve come to the right place. We are eager to meet your land surveying needs in Texas.

Our Company

Grand Prairie Land Surveying is a marketing website for SMW Engineering. At SMW you’ll find all of the technical experience you need and so much more. Our local Grand Prairie office has the leadership and team members for any size projects. With over 100,000 in the City of Grand Prairie and growing, and over 200,000 in the Grand Prairie Metro area, SMW is please to call Grand Prairie Texas home. We have a fully staffed land surveying office in Grand Prairie with Blue McCoy, a local registered land surveyor, in charge of the office. We have 3 survey field crews in order to meet any of your land surveying needs in the Grand Prairie and surrounding area. If you need any help with Grand Prairie land surveying, call us at (469) 203-4001 or see our Contact Page.

Land Surveyors in Grand Prairie, TX

Land Surveyors are professionals who investigate, and make precise measurements to determine the size and boundaries of a piece of real estate.  While this is a simplistic definition, this is one of the most common types of surveying related to home and land owners. Land Surveyors are trained and educated to deal with all types of property line issues that may arise on a parcel of land. The first recorded history of land surveyors was in ancient Egypt, where “rope stretchers” replaced the property lines of farms along the Nile River after each flood of the area. We still find property lines to this day for land owners. To know more about what a land surveyor does, click here.

What you can expect from Grand Prairie Land Surveying

David McKinney - Land SurveyorIf you need assistance with any land surveying services in the Smith County Texas area, we can help you out.

We strive to be responsive to your time schedule and to provide quality land surveying services. We emphasize collaboration and total communication at every phase of the project.

How to contact Grand Prairie Land Surveying?

CALL Blue McCoy at Grand Prairie Land Surveying TODAY at (469) 203-4001 to discuss your land survey needs. You can also send us a message by going to our contact page.

What is a Flood Study?

In the article “Study could lower or nix local flood insurance costs” we see a familiar situation that was finally resolved by ONE citizen paying for a flood study to help his neighbors. The situation was that…

Residents along Wolf Creek used to see more flooding until two dams along the waterway at North Street in Pine and East Main Street in Grove City were removed 11 and 12 years ago, respectively, and the waters have receded significantly. Since that time, the residents believe their insurance is no longer justified – or could at least be reduced.

Flood Zones Explained

FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) determine the flood insurance rates that FEMA charges landowners who are located in a Special Flood Hazard Zone. This is also known as the 1% Chance Storm Flood Zone and is typically designated as Zone AE. The “E” means there is a Base Flood Elevation that has been established.

There are 3 situations you may find yourself in on a flood map:

  1. Out of the flood hazard zone completely, the best situation. This is usually designated as “X Outside the 0.2% Chance Flood Zone.” In this case you are not required to purchase flood insurance, though you may consider doing so if you have a wet weather drain close to your house.
  2. Your lot and/or house is shown in Zone “X Within the 0.2% Chance Flood Zone.” In this case you are also not required to purchase flood insurance but it is highly advisable. The 1% storm event is exceeded in many cases. (The water doesn’t know that it’s supposed to stop at that elevation.)
  3. A portion of your lot and/or home is shown in the flood hazard zone on the Flood Maps. This requires flood insurance, or proof that the maps are inaccurate. At this point your home may or may not be actually below the Base Flood Elevation, the 1% chance flood elevation.
    1. Your lot is IN the flood zone, but your house and the Lowest Adjacent Grade (LAG) next to it is OUT, or ABOVE the Base Flood Elevation. This has to be determined by a land surveyor. If so, you may qualify for a LOMA to remove the requirements for flood insurance.
    2. Your house and/or the Lowest Adjacent Grade (LAG) are BELOW the Base Flood Elevation. You won’t qualify for a LOMA. Get an Elevation Certificate by a land surveyor in order to determine your flood insurance premium.

FEMA FLOOD MAP LEGENDA Fourth Flood Map Situation

In this article, a FOURTH situation is given; you are shown IN the flood hazard zone on the current maps but something has changed since the map was published that would show you to actually be OUT of that hazard zone. In this case, a flood study has to be undertaken to prove to FEMA that something has changed. Unfortunately this flood study has to be paid for by someone. If your City and/or County won’t do it, then it is up to you or your neighbors to undertake this study.

A Flood Study

A flood study is done by engineers who are trained and licensed to undertake these tasks. A flood study involves calculating the height which the 1% chance storm will rise to as it flows through the stream. You do this by taking measurements of the shape of the stream at various locations and determining the amount of water that will runoff the overall drainage area, and how fast it will get to that segment of the stream. Honestly, there’s a LOT of estimating done for this kind of work, but it’s at least educated estimating. (I refrained from saying educated guess because that would diminish my Auburn education. War Eagle!)

Flood Study Costs & Facts of Life

The flood study in this article ultimately costs over $35,000. In my experience, the minimum flood study cost I’ve seen is in the $5000 range. It could run much higher, but that would usually involve a large area.

Unfortunately when most people are in this Fourth Situation, neighbors won’t cooperate and share the cost. I believe personally that the city or county should incur these costs, but in most cases, there aren’t funds available for this. And, since it involves a small segment of the people, it is usually not justified by people who were voted into office.

Another possible way to fund a flood study is through a Tax Assessment from the jurisdiction involved. This would require the individuals who are helped by the flood study to pay up when and if they sell their home. The idea is that being out of the flood zone would mean they get a higher price for their home than if it was still in the flood hazard zone.

If you need help with an elevation certificate, please call Grand Prairie Land Surveying today at (469) 203-4001 to speak to a Registered Professional Land Surveyor.

Difference in FEMA Elevation Certificate and LOMA

I get calls all the time from someone requesting an Elevation Certificate or Elevation Survey. Usually it’s because they’ve gotten a letter in the mail from their mortgage company telling them they have to get flood insurance. This leads them to contact their insurance company and that leads to a surveyor.

“purchasing flood insurance is mandatory…if the loan is federally insured or the lender is regulated by the federal government”

Purpose of the Elevation Certificate

elevation_certificateAn Elevation Certificate is a form “…used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances, to determine the proper insurance premium rate, and to support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA)…” Make sure that your surveyor uses the latest version of this form as it’s currently being revised (March 2016).

Surveyor Measures the Elevations

The surveyor determines the lowest floor elevation of the house, the lowest adjacent grade (LAG) elevations of the house, the elevation of the lowest element attached to the house (like a porch step,) and the lowest elevation of machinery or equipment servicing the building. The surveyor also identifies the building type according to the instructions in the Elevation Certificate form.

Base Flood Elevation Determined

After these are measured, then the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is determined from either the Flood Maps (FIRM), the Flood Insurance Study (FIS), or by the local community. The difference in elevation between this BFE and the LAG and/or Lowest Floor will determine the insurance premium rate.

LOMA Removes Flood Insurance Requirement

Even if an Elevation Certificate shows that your house is above the Base Flood Elevation at all points, you still have the requirement to obtain flood insurance. Only after the submission and approval of a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) can the Flood Map be amended and the Federal mandate for the purchase of flood insurance be removed.GIS with Flood Hazard Zone Overlay

The LOMA process can be done online and typically takes 30 days or less but sometimes a review of the LOMA submission can identify additional information that is needed.

It should be noted that the Elevation Certificate must be completed by a Land Surveyor, Engineer, or an Architect who is authorized by law to certify elevation information, though I don’t know of any Architects that will do these, and not too many Engineers.

Call Grand Prairie Land Surveying at (469) 203-4001 for help with an elevation certificate or LOMA.

Basics of a Boundary Survey or Property Survey

Both land surveying and boundary surveying dates back in ancient history to the Egyptians who surveyed farm sites along the Nile River.

Boundary Surveying Today

boundary surveying

Surveying is used for many reasons today. Property Line surveys or boundary surveying is done to establish a specific location of a parcel of land along with its exact acreage.  It is used to determine the boundaries of an area of ownership.

It is also used to identify a piece of property by a written legal description or to provide a review of the accuracy of an existing description. This data is most important when buying and selling land, and is also used to insure a clear title to the land. Here’s a little more about boundary surveying.

Boundary Survey vs Lot Survey

While there are many types of surveys, Property line surveying is typically done for undeveloped land or large tracts of land not in a platted subdivision. A lot survey or closing survey is typically done to re-establish the boundary of a previously established parcel of land, the platted subdivision lot. Typically the difference is only the size of the land and the legal description type used.

Most surveys progress through the basic procedures regardless of the type being done.

Legal Description Research

Any pertinent deeds, contracts, maps or other documents that contain a description of the property’s boundaries are located, studied and interpreted. A determination is made of what the actual property description says, along with the locations of any physical evidence of the boundaries.

This can be in the form of both natural and man-made monuments or markers that exist in the field. The property is then measured to establish the boundary, not only using the appropriate existing monuments but with setting new markers where necessary.

Field Survey Measurements

Measurements are accomplished using a total station and other surveying tools. A total station measures both vertical and horizontal angles, as used in triangulation networks. After these steps are accomplished, the property description and plat are prepared.

Boundary Surveying: Showing the Results

boundary survey | property line surveyInterpreting the property line survey drawing is not as difficult as it may first seem. For instance, a property plat will usually contain a directional orientation which is typically indicated with an arrow pointing north. It will contain the bearing and distance of each boundary line, the property lines of other properties shown on the plat, and the names of adjacent property owners listed in the areas of their property.

Corner monuments, along with the names of any natural monuments (such as “Smith’s Creek”, for example) or a brief description of any unnamed natural monuments (such as the “30-inch oak tree”) are on the plat, along with the found monuments and the type of monument found.

There is also a title block containing the property’s location and owner name, the land surveyor’s name and license number, the date the survey was performed, the scale of the plat and any other relevant data.

Boundary Surveying or Property Line Services

For a free boundary surveying quote, call Grand Prairie Land Surveying at (469) 203-4001 or visit our contact page to send us a message. 

What Is A Land Surveyor?

land surveyor

Land Surveyor: Definition

A land surveyor is a professional person with the academic qualifications and technical expertise to measure and plot the lengths and directions of boundary lines and the dimensions of any portion of the earth’s surface (including natural and other structures.) That definition is quite a mouthful, but in actuality the field of surveying (geomatics) includes many other facets.

For the home-owner the land surveyor is the person who locates the boundary of your property and the location of your home within that boundary to determine if there are any encroachments by your neighbors onto you or vice versa. Common encroachments are fences, driveways, etc.

Alabama Land Surveyor

Land surveyors in the United States are regulated and licensed by the various state governments. In Alabama, the Alabama State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (www.bels.state.al.us) was established in 1935 to protect the public by helping “to safeguard life, health, and property, and to promote the public welfare by providing for the licensing and regulation of persons in the practices of engineering and land surveying.

This purpose is achieved through the establishment of minimum qualifications for entry into the professions of engineering and land surveying, through the adoption of rules defining and delineating unlawful or unethical conduct, and through swift and effective discipline for those individuals or entities who violate the applicable laws or rules.”

As of 2007, a newly licensed land surveyor is required to have a four year degree in surveying or a closely related field and an additional four to eight years of on-the-job training under a licensed land surveyor.

Licensed Land Surveyors are also required to maintain and update their professional knowledge and skills by attending 15 hours of continuing education each year.

In preparation for a typical lot or mortgage survey of your house, a land surveyor may review tax maps, aerial maps, deeds, subdivision plats, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations and possibly flood maps.

For a typical lot survey the subdivision plat is the most important of these because it gives the exact dimensions of your lot and the relative location of your property corners. The surveyor uses this to locate and/or re-establish your property corners.

In the field the survey crew will find the property corners along with some of your neighbors corners if yours can’t be found, measure the distances and angles between all of the points, locate all improvements on your property, including your house, pool, out-buildings, retaining walls, fences, driveways and sidewalks, etc.

Other improvements like sanitary sewer mains, storm drainage ways, overhead power lines and the like are located because these might indicate an easement across the property. The plat should show these, but they don’t in all cases. We’ll talk about easements in a later article.

Once all of the field information is gathered, the chief land surveyor takes the field notes and prepares a preliminary sketch of the work. This is passed along to a draftsperson who prepares the final drawing for your use. The draftsperson will check all of the maps mentioned earlier to make sure that all building setback lines and easements are shown on the drawing.

The surveyed distances and directions are compared to the plat distances and directions also. Any discrepancies or encroachments are shown on the drawing. Your attorney uses the drawing to determine if any other legal work is needed during the closing.

The mortgage company or bank uses the survey to insure they are loaning you money on the correct property (in case they end up owning it. Yikes)

So now, what do you have for your money. You have a drawing which shows your house on your lot. You should have stakes and/or flagging by all of your property corners. Make sure you know where they are located.

The actual corner is marked by an iron pin or pipe of some sort. (The type of monument should be shown on your survey drawing.) You might also want to take a look for them at least once a year to make sure they’re still there.

For a land surveyor at Grand Prairie,AL and surrounding areas, call us at (469) 203-4001 or send us a message by going here.

Tips on Hiring a Land Surveyor

Land surveyor at workHiring a land surveyor means paying them good money, which is why we need to make sure that we get the best service in return. We need to make sure that we only get the best service, as I’m sure you don’t want to pay good money and not get the service that you’re expecting.

If you’re looking to hire the service of a land surveyor, here are some guidelines that you may want to keep in mind.

Hiring a Land Surveyor:

Start by looking for land surveying companies in your area. Knowing your options allow you to choose the best. Checking the internet, the yellow pages and the newspaper is a very good way to start. Make sure to make a list of the companies’ contact information since you’d need to make contact with them later.

Licensed Land Surveyor

Only deal with licensed land surveyors, so ask to see their license before hiring them. If possible, ask for a copy and authenticate it. Furthermore, check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints the company might have against them.

Another important thing to remember is to hire a land surveyor whom you’re at ease working with. To find out, meet with the person. Study how he answers your questions and how he talks to you and you’d be able to determine if you’re comfortable with him. Aside from this, you’d also be able to gauge how knowledgeable he is by the way he answers your questions.

Contract Signing with a Land Surveyor

Read and understand every bit of the contract before signing it. Some people overlook the fine print, but make sure that you don’t. Make sure that there are no hidden charges, and that will be getting all the services that you’ll be paying for. Signing a contract makes a person legally bounded to it, so you have to fully understand what you’re signing up for to prevent any problems in the future.

As long as you get the best value for your money by hiring someone who will give you what you paid for, hiring a land surveyor shouldn’t be any problem.

For a land surveyor at Grand Prairie,AL and surrounding areas, call us at (469) 203-4001 or send us a message by going to our contact page.

Why You SHOULD Have a Land Survey Completed Before Purchasing Land?

The importance of a land survey

Buying land, whether commercial or residential, is always a really expensive endeavor, regardless if prices have eased somewhat lately. That’s why selecting a lot which you like and making an agreement for it without performing a land survey within the area is likely to be the greatest mistake that one could make.

Here’s why it’s crucial that you have land surveying done first:

land surveyLand surveyors can evaluate if you’re actually getting what you’re likely to pay for. This simply means uncover whether the sidewalks, trees, driveways and even the bird bath is part of the property you’re gonna buy.

Land surveying would also check if the neighbors are encroaching into the property, which might then mean you’re going to have problems at some point with your neighbors.

Having a land surveyor doesn’t only mean they evaluate which you’re getting or otherwise not getting – land surveyors are the experts, and they can help with building regulations, wetland regulations, etc. Note that that these regulations can change anytime, but land surveyors should be updated on these regulations, or they’re going to refer you to a person who is.

Let’s suppose the existing landowner (the one selling the land) supply you with old land survey documents? You should still hire your very own land surveyor to determine if the boundary monuments continue to be in place.

Also, land surveying done quite a while back will possibly not show recent changes to the land. When the existing survey is older than about 10 years, you must get the most current survey. Technology and surveying standards are significantly better now and may provide you more confidence in the survey work.

Second, that survey was completed for that owner. He could have instructed the surveyor not to show specific factors on the drawing. At least have a land surveyor get out there and look at the parcel with this particular survey in hand.

We have witnessed numerous cases where a whole new land survey would save the customer thousands so don’t become a victim.

I’ve heard many individuals say having a land surveyor is nothing but unnecessary expense. I’ll show you what’s unnecessary: the worry brought on by paying thousands for something and finding yourself not getting what you were expecting. If you’re smart, you’d hire a licensed land surveyor prior to any land purchases.

For any questions about land survey and how it can help you, call us at (469) 203-4001 or send us a message by going here.

Land Surveying: Estimating the Cost

land surveying

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Land surveying, in a nutshell, is the art and science of establishing or re-establishing property corners, property lines and/or boundaries. There can be different reasons why someone needs a lot surveyed.

One of the common would be to see whether a piece of land is vulnerable to flooding, to subdivide a property to sell or deed to relatives or to determine if there are any encroachments. This may happen when a neighbour disputes that you are using a piece of his lot or viceversa (for more on this, read this page).

How much does land surveying cost?

If you need to have a piece of land surveyed, first thing that may come to mind is “how much does it cost?”

There are many factors determining how much land surveying on your land would cost. The fact that this sort of service should be done by an expert contributes a lot to the overall cost of the service, but choosing a non-professional to survey your land is dangerous, and possibly illegal for the non-professional.

For this reason you should to take a good look around before settling with a surveying company. If you must work inside a particular budget, discuss this with the surveyor up-front. Many times he might manage to offer cost saving steps to get the work you need done within these cost limits.

The shape of the land should also be considered. A square or even a rectangle piece of land is somewhat easier to survey than an odd shaped parcel, or one with many different sides.

With the latter, the surveyor is required to spend more time in surveying the curves and the bends which means the cost of the service would increase. The overall measurements the land is also key factor here.

Remember that the cost of land surveying is usually proportionate to the time and effort that the land surveyor would spend on the project. If the land that you’re having surveyed isn’t accessible, or has thick vegetation, then the total price of the survey might go higher.

This is true of the weather conditions which might impact the work. Surveying in hot weather is somewhat slower to keep from putting the crew members at risk. Also, most surveying can’t be done in the rain.

When asking for a quote, bear in mind surveyors base the estimate on expected conditions at the site. These conditions could change, bringing about additional costs. Always ask about these potential additional cost scenarios.

All that being said, competitive prices are also to be expected, which is why we recommend choosing a surveyor according to his experience and reputation instead of on the price he writes on a piece of paper. Mostly it is far better to spend a good amount of money on a survey that’s well-done rather than select a company with a very “affordable” price but have the survey repeated because the results were wrong.

To sum up, it is best to discuss the expenses of the survey prior to ask the surveyor to begin with his work. It’s also advisable to receive a contract that lets you understand what is expected of the land surveyor. This is one of the most important steps in getting your land surveyed.

For a free land surveying quote, call Grand Prairie Land Surveying at (469) 203-4001 or send us a message by going here.