Minimizing The Effect Of Water Runoff With A Topographic Survey


There are many situations that require owners of undeveloped real estate parcels to order a survey. Title insurance companies have strict survey requirements on properties that are insured. Governmental agencies are also likely to require a survey before approving a significant development project.

Due to the complexity of commercial land surveys, title insurance companies require surveys to be conducted in accordance with a set of minimum standards. The current set of standards was developed by the American Land Title Association (ALTA). Although primarily intended for the title insurance industry, ALTA surveys are required by many stakeholders in commercial real estate.

ALTA Certification Statement

A template is provided by ALTA to use as a statement to certify that a survey was performed in accordance with the minimum standards. In addition to the minimum requirements of an ALTA survey, you have the option to add certain services. The optional services are listed in Table A, which is included as part of the certification statement.

Optional Topographic Survey

Water runoff is a major concern for many real estate developers. Architects may need to design paved parking areas so that rain quickly drains away. To fully understand the drainage pattern for a real estate parcel, a topographic survey can be added as an optional service. A topographic survey is requested as part of an ALTA survey by checking item 5 of Table A.

Drainage Patterns

A topographic survey measures the contour of the land, as well as the heights of any existing structures. The ideal location for a proposed building may be largely dependent on how water drains from the area. In many situations, however, the data from a contour survey can provide you with the information necessary to minimize the effect of water runoff.

The slope of many parcels can be modified to some degree, but there may be water runoff from adjoining properties. The water volume in a natural spring or stream also increases during prolonged periods of heavy rain. The natural landscape of a parcel can often be maintained through the use of drainage ditches and culverts.

Water Diversion

Drain culverts are available in a variety of sizes and materials. A road or driveway can be built a few feet above a strategically placed culvert. A gravel filler material is usually placed on top of the culvert before the road or driveway is constructed along the ground surface.

The use of a topographic survey can also help prevent the occurrence of standing water. After a real estate project is complete, heavy rain should flow virtually unnoticed back into the natural landscape.


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