Survey Time Crunch? 4 Ways to Keep Moving Forward

05 August, 2022

Surveys can be a critical part of site feasibility and due diligence and are generally required for both property closings and obtaining construction financing. In an active land development market, development teams need this critical information fast. Survey teams are often booked several weeks out.

A full topographic, boundary, and ALTA survey is challenging to expedite, as it requires field work, research, and a detailed plan. However, when development teams collaborate with their surveyors, they can often find ways to maintain momentum without a full survey or while the full survey package is being completed.

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Start by asking your consultant team what survey information is needed at that point. Then consider these four strategies to keep the deal moving:

  1. 1. Consider an ALTA Without Topography

A quicker, more cost-effective alternative to a full ALTA package, this option may allow you to close on a property, but doesn’t include topography information, which can be a lengthy process to obtain in the field. Throughout due diligence, your design team can help you evaluate the site’s topography using GIS information, and your surveyor can collect field-verified topography information later.

Sometimes clients don’t realize we can split up the survey package to deliver the ALTA upfront and obtain topography information later on.

Robert Harr, Principal, Herndon, VA

2. Use “Office Only” Survey Information

If you are looking for a survey to inform your decisions during the due diligence phase and you don’t need a certified ALTA for a hard closing deadline, a surveyor may be able to provide helpful data without sending a team to the field. They can map out property boundaries based on available records and review title information that may affect development. This information may give you a level of confidence about the property, however, does include some risk where the team was not physically in the field and therefore cannot certify the survey.

We can provide very comprehensive survey data from the office, which can be helpful to our clients in making informed decisions about a property.

Tom Teabo, Regional Survey Manager, Raleigh, NC

3. Walk the Site With Your Consultant Team

Though not the same as a survey crew performing field services, your consultant team, including a surveyor, can walk the site and help to identify observable red flags that may include wetlands, existing utilities, steep slopes, access issues, and other potential issues.

Walking the site gives us a solid understanding of the project’s potential. We consult with clients on our level of confidence to help them move forward.

– Billy Logsdon, Divisional Director of Survey, Dallas, TX

4. Communicate the Construction Timeline

Keeping the survey team apprised as to when construction start is nearing may help to give the survey team enough lead time to complete an ALTA survey update so that you can obtain construction financing.

Eventually, you will likely need a fully executed ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey to complete your transaction and move your project forward. However, depending on where you are in the process, your design and consultant team can collaborate to obtain the information you need right now, allowing you to advance your project with confidence.

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About Robert Harr, PE, PLS, LEED AP BD+C
Bob Harr_ Herndon

Bob serves as a Principal and Senior Survey Manager for Bohler’s Mid-Atlantic division. Leading with more than 32 years in the land development industry, Bob guides his team and clients in moving projects forward across Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and West Virginia. He has also performed surveying services throughout Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan. Bob is an active member of the D.C. Association of Land Surveyors and is a LEED Accredited Professional.

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