ALTA Survey

2016 Land Title Survey Standards

What you need to know about the new ALTA Survey standards.

The revised ALTA Survey specifications are scheduled to take effect February 2016.  The below commentary itemizes the significant changes to survey specifications, responsibilities and requirements.

1. The Survey will be known as an ALTA/NSPS LAND TITLE SURVEY. The title has been revised to reflect the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), which is the legal successor organization to the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM). All references to ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys must be changed to ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.

Revisions affecting Table A

2. Complete revision to Item 11 – depicting evidence of the location of utilities.

a. Table A, Item 11A – Observed evidence – has been eliminated and is now written into the specifications as Item 5E(ii)-5E(v). All ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys are required to depict surface indications of underground utilities, including ditches, manholes, vents, valves, pedestals, utility poles, etc.

b. Table A, Item 11 has been revised to: utilities existing on or serving the surveyed property as determined by:

• Observed evidence
• Evidence from plans…
• Markings from utility locate

c. Additional narrative has been added, acknowledging that surveyors must rely on third party locating services (Diggers Hotline), which routinely ignores, or provides inadequate, utility marking. In these cases, the surveyor will note as such on the survey and the client is advised that excavation or a private utility locating request may be necessary.

3. Table A, Item 6 – Zoning classifications and setback requirements have been revised and rewritten to require a zoning letter or report be provided to the surveyor as a condition of depicting the information on the survey.

4. Table A, Item 8 – has been revised to include the depiction of substantial features and uses, including substantial areas of refuse.

5. Table A, Item 18 – Observed evidence of site use as a solid waste dump, sump or sanitary landfill has been eliminated.

6. Table A, Item 18 has been rewritten to identify the location of wetland delineation flags, if a delineation has been conducted. If a delineation has not been conducted, a note stating that no flags were observed shall be noted on the survey.

7. Table A, Item 19 has been changed to depict any plottable offsite easement or servitudes disclosed in record documents.

8. The requirement of setting monuments at the corners of the offsite easements or servitudes has been eliminated.

Revisions referenced in the Specifications

9. Per Section 5 (B)(ii) of the specifications: for abutting public or private roads, the width and location of each edge of the traveled way, including divided streets, must be depicted unless the recorded documents disclose there is no access to the road(s).

10. Per Section 5 (C)(ii) of the specifications: the location of trees, bushes, shrubs or other natural vegetation does not need to be located unless they are deemed by the surveyor to be evidence of possession.

11. Per Section 5 (G)(i) of the specifications: the location of springs, ponds, lakes, streams, ditches, swamps, etc. running through or outside, but within 5 feet of the boundary of the surveyed property, must be depicted.

12. Per Section 6 (B)(x): the survey must note if there are any areas on the boundaries of the surveyed property where physical access within five feet was restricted.

The 2016 specifications continue the revisions of 2011, which state the survey shall bear only the specified certification and preparing a new legal description is to be avoided unless deemed appropriate by the surveyor and insurer.

Please note that the above is a partial list, and may not reflect the final version scheduled to become effective February 2016. Please contact John Casucci at john.casucci@rasmith.com with any questions or for an update on the status of the revised ALTA Survey specifications.


About the Author

John Casucci is a senior project manager of survey services in raSmith’s Brookfield, Wis., office. He has more than 30 years of experience on a wide range of surveying projects, including boundary, aerial, construction, topographic and control surveying.

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