Many buyers ask me “What is the difference between a plot plan the builder gives me and a survey?” Simply put, a plot plan is what the building plan is for a plot of land, and asurvey is drawn to show what is actually on the plot of land. 

Many builders in our area hire a surveyor to prepare the plot plan, but a surveyor is not required.  Plot plans show the lot dimensions, where the builder plans to put the improvements on the lot, the setback lines and easements.  However, while the lot dimensions are accurate, the location where the improvements will actually be located after completion is not guaranteed because sometimes the plot plan is drawn before the foundation is even laid. 

Surveys, on the other hand, must be completed by a licensed surveyor and will show all things that are part of the land or attached to the land.  Examples of things that are part of the land include trees, bushes, flowerbeds, driveways, creeks and ponds.  Items that are attached to the land and will be included on a survey include buildings (including mobile homes that may not be permanently attached), fences and power or utility boxes.  Surveys will show if any of these items encroach over and onto neighboring lots or if items from neighboring lots encroach over and onto the subject property.  Surveys will also include the easements and setback lines. 

Remember:  if you have a title insurance policy that offers you coverage for matters of survey when you buy the property, and you discover there is an encroachment, you can file a claim, and the title insurance company will assist if the encroachment existed on the effective date of your policy. 

Title insurance covers the past and what has affected title to the property but not the future and what might affect the title. Therefore, it is imperative for property owners to consider getting a survey if they are adding on to their homes, putting in a swimming pool, extending a driveway or anything of the sort. 

If you decide to put in a swimming pool and discover after the concrete is dry and the water is in that you have gone over a property line, over a set-back line or on to an easement, you may be dipping into your wallet to correct the problem before you even get to take a dip in the pool.

If you need an attorney for your real estate investment, Hutchens Law Firm is happy to help. We have offices throughout North Carolina in Cameron, Fayetteville, Charlotte, Southern Pines, Southport, and Wilmington as well as in Columbia, SC.

Published by Susan R. Benoit on September 14, 2015