What is a survey and do I really need one? Survey vs. ILC?

The Barr Team Info for Home Buyers, Info on Real Estate Transactions Leave a Comment


Watch the video where Henry tells you all about survey vs. ILC and why you should have a survey done before purchasing a single family home or vacant lot…
Hi, I am Henry Barr at The Barr Team at Re/Max Properties of the Summit here in Frisco Colorado. I have been asked a couple of times about “What is a survey and do I really need one?” My recommendation, depends on what property you are buying, if you are buying a condo or a townhome in a platted townhome subdivision, you probably don’t need one unless, in the townhome situation, there’s something that has been done on the rear deck, side decks or a fence behind the townhome, something to that effect. And you definitely don’t normally need one on a condo because that’s on a condo plat and you cannot normally make improvements outside of the platted condo footprint.
Let’s get to when you do need a survey. When you need one is when you are buying a single family house or vacant land. On those I would definitely strongly recommend a survey at all times when buying a single family home or vacant lot. On a single family home I would recommend getting an Improvement Survey Plat (ISP). An ISP is really a formal survey, it includes property pins, it can be used for building fences and for boundary disputes. Sometimes people refer to an Improvement Location Certificate (ILC) as a survey. It is not a survey. It is a document used in the industry to basically show that the house sits on the lot. A lot of times an ILC is used by lenders, but it is not a survey and cannot be used for a fence location and does not mark property corners. So I’d always recommend an Improvement Survey Plat and I would tell you ‘yes’ it is definitely needed. Really depends on who pays for it, that’s part of the negotiation, I wouldn’t recommend buying a house without it. You’d be surprised what we find when we do an Improvement Survey Plat as to where people think property lines are and where they really are, so I strongly recommend that.
Same is true for vacant land, you really want to make sure where your property pins are and that it’s, what we call, pinned and staked. the stakes are what you see above ground and below ground there’s an 18 inch piece of rebar with a cap on it, which is a permanent marker. The stakes you see above ground are not permanent, they just stay there until a good wind blows them down or the neighborhood kids grab them. So make sure you know where your property corners are, if there are any encroachments, if there are an easements across the property, those are really important to know about. I would recommend when buying land that you get a Land Improvement Survey Plat that shows any improvement on the land (i.e. well caps, fences, etc.) so I always recommend getting that or a land survey plat if it’s an absolutely vacant piece of land. Prices vary depending on the surveyor and the time of year and how busy they are, but I would say it’s a critical piece of the process when buying either a lot or a single family house. Hope that helps, any questions, as always, call us. Thanks.