When purchasing property with an existing home at Smith Mountain Lake, you may not always need a new survey. Using an existing survey is often considered sufficient and could save you hundreds of dollars. Examine the existing survey closely however, to make sure that the buildings and lot lines seem to be in order. If you are even the least bit unsure, get a survey, or at least get professional advice!
If you are building a home, dock, shed, garage, or cutting trees anywhere near your property line, you need to know where the boundaries are and what setback rules are in effect for construction. If the lines are not clearly marked, it would probably be wise to get a new survey or at least have the boundaries marked off.
I know of a man who bought a lot and was building a home in the northern part of the lake. He was reportedly trying to save $400 by not surveying the new home on the lot. In his mind the homesite was clearly nowhere near the lot lines.
Unfortunately, he had a mistaken assumption about the boundaries of the lot when he purchased it. Though he thought he was building in the middle of his lot, he actually built over the neighbor’s property line. This caused quite a problem, and both parties later became belligerent. As a result, the construction on his home was held up for a year or more while this was resolved. Please don’t make this mistake!
Another friend of mine recently received a call from his neighbor and was told that some of his landscaping, including part of his sprinkler system, was on the neighbor’s lot. This neighbor had done a survey and the boundary line was not where my friend had always thought it was. He is now hiring his own surveyor to confirm this.
Your real estate agent should be able to provide you with a county GIS survey and a plat for the property you plan to purchase. If no plat can be obtained and you have any questions about the property line or setbacks, the REALTOR® can assist you in taking appropriate steps. This may include asking for a survey as a condition to purchase the property.
Note that in addition to a survey, it is also important to know what easements the property you are purchasing is granting to neighbors, power companies or others. A property survey is not necessarily the best place to find this information. You need to examine your deed to see what easements have been granted to others and what other easements that your property benefits from as well. If you have any questions on these items, you should ask your closing attorney.