ADU Knowledge
January 22, 2024

Atlanta Land Survey: Everything Homeowners Need to Know

Argi Avetisyan
Argi Avetisyan
Gather ADU expert
Atlanta Land Survey: Everything Homeowners Need to Know
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As an Atlanta homeowner, you're keen on protecting the largest investment you're likely to make – your property. One of the most overlooked yet crucial steps in this safeguarding process is a land survey. Regardless of whether you're buying, building, or have owned your home for decades, understanding what a land survey entails and its importance in the state of Georgia is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the world of land surveys, with a specific lens on the needs, regulations, and best practices for homeowners in Atlanta. From deciphering what type of survey you might require to choosing the right surveyor, you'll walk away enlightened and empowered on this often-misunderstood topic.

What is a Land Survey?

A land survey is a precise measurement and description of the physical dimensions of a piece of land. It identifies boundaries, including location, shape, and the true corners of a property. Land surveys also establish the presence of any encroachments, easements, or other conditions that might affect the property's value or use. These surveys can be crucial documentation for property owners, especially in urban areas like Atlanta, where development is continually altering the landscape.

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When is a Land Survey Required in Atlanta?

Land surveys are important in various scenarios related to property ownership and development. Here are some key situations where a land survey becomes essential:

  • Buying a property: Before finalising a property purchase, it is advisable to have a land survey conducted. This will provide clarity on the property's exact boundaries, preventing future disputes.
  • Building or extending your property: A land survey verifies your property boundaries and ensures that your project does not encroach on neighbouring land, especially in densely populated areas like Atlanta. This applies to new constructions, additions, garage constructions, and ADU (accessory dwelling unit) constructions.
  • Installing fences, driveways, or landscaping features: A land survey helps accurately place these elements within your property limits.
  • Resolving boundary disputes: In case of a disagreement with a neighbour over property boundaries, a land survey can serve as an irrefutable document to settle the dispute.

In essence, any project that involves altering or requires a clear understanding of property boundaries necessitates a land survey.

Connect with a licensed Atlanta Land Surveyor

Types of Land Surveys

In Atlanta, there are several types of land surveys that a homeowner might need, depending on their project. These can include:

1. Boundary Surveys

Boundary surveys are the most common and serve to establish the exact territory of the property, including its dimensions and location of the corners. If you're experiencing boundary disputes with a neighbor or simply want to establish your yard's true limits, a boundary survey is essential.

2. Topographic Surveys

Topographic surveys are done to map the physical features of the land and the man-made structures upon it. For homeowners, these surveys are useful when planning landscape modifications or erosion control measures.

3. ALTA/NSPS Surveys

ALTA/NSPS surveys go above and beyond a traditional boundary survey, typically including all surveying standards, such as property lines, boundary easements, rights of way, and other conditions affecting the property. These are often required when buying, selling, or leasing property, particularly if it's commercial.

4. Construction Surveys

If you're embarking on any construction projects in Atlanta, including new structures, garage or ADU additions, or even just a fence installation, a construction survey could be required. This ensures that the building or structure being constructed is in compliance with local building codes and is accurately located on the property.

Benefits of Getting a Land Survey

Land surveys offer several significant benefits to homeowners in Atlanta. Some of the most notable are:

Identifying Property Boundaries

With a clear understanding of where your property lines lie, you can avoid encroaching on your neighbors' land – and most importantly, prevent them from doing the same to you.

Preventing Boundary Disputes

Nothing can sour relations with a neighbor faster than disputing where your property lines lie. A land survey can help settle disagreements amicably and legally.

Ensuring Compliance with Regulations

Local building codes and zoning laws in Atlanta are strict, and a land survey can help you ensure that any work done on your property is compliant, which can save you significant time and money in the long run.

Planning Property Development

If expansion or improvement is on your radar, a survey will give you a clear picture of what's possible on your land and provide foundational data for detailed design work.

The Land Surveying Process

So, how does the process of getting a land survey work? Here's a step-by-step guide:

Hiring a Professional Surveyor

You'll start by finding a qualified land surveyor licensed in the state of Georgia. Look for a professional with experience in the type of survey you require.

Fieldwork and Data Collection

The surveyor will conduct fieldwork, which involves using specialized equipment to measure the land. This can include traditional tools like transit levels or advanced technology such as GPS.

Analysis and Mapping

After fieldwork, the surveyor will analyze the data collected and create a map or plats representing the findings.

Delivering Survey Results

The final step is the delivery of the survey results to you in a professionally bound document. This document will include the surveyor's findings and may serve as a legal record of your property's characteristics.

Connect with a licensed Atlanta Land Surveyor

Common Issues Uncovered by Land Surveys

Land surveys can reveal a multitude of issues, some of which may come as a surprise to homeowners. These include:


An encroachment is when a neighbor's structure, like a fence or garden shed, extends onto your property or vice versa.


An easement is the right to use another person's land for a specific purpose. These can be granted to utility companies or for access purposes and may limit what you can do on your property.

Zoning Violations

A survey can reveal if your property's usage violates local zoning laws.

Flood Zone Designations

For properties in Atlanta, it's essential to know if you're located in a flood zone, as this can significantly impact your property's resale value and your insurance costs.

Connect with a licensed Atlanta Land Surveyor

Choosing the Right Land Surveyor

Picking the right surveyor is as important as the survey itself. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Experience: Look for a surveyor with relevant experience, particularly with your project type.
  • Licensing and Certification: Always choose a surveyor licensed in Georgia, and look for any additional certifications that might demonstrate their expertise, such as being designated as a professional land surveyor.
  • Reputation: Check reviews and ask for references to back up a surveyor's credentials.
  • Cost: Get quotes from several surveyors, but don't make cost the only consideration. Quality should be the priority.

Key Takeaways

For homeowners in Atlanta, a land survey isn't just a good idea; it's an essential part of prudent property management. By understanding the types of surveys available, their benefits, the process of obtaining one, the common issues they uncover, and how to select the right surveyor, you can ensure that your property rights are well-protected. As Atlanta continues to grow and evolve, keep this guide close – it could mean the difference between navigating the future of property ownership smoothly or hitting unforeseen roadblocks.

Connect with a licensed Atlanta Land Surveyor to safeguard your property rights today!

Full List: Types of Atlanta Land Surveys

ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey:

A survey and drawing (plat) that meets the requirements of the American Land Title Association (ALTA) and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM), incorporating a review of the provided Title Search.

As-Built Survey:

A survey carried out after construction to display existing and new improvements.

Atlanta Boundary Survey:

This survey reestablishes parcel boundaries using the legal description. All property corners are located or set and displayed on a drawing (plat), along with permanent structures, above-ground utilities, and any encroachments.

Atlanta Commercial Survey:

This encompasses surveys conducted on commercially or industrially zoned properties.

Atlanta Construction Survey:

Staking the position and providing a detailed layout of new structure(s) for proposed construction.

Atlanta Exemption Plat

A survey mandated by the county, tailored to property subdivision requirements.

Atlanta Flood Elevation Certificate

An elevation certificate is an official document of the National Flood Insurance Program (FEMA). It verifies the elevation data of a structure and the Base Flood Elevation (established on FEMA maps) relative to the ground level of a specific property. This information is utilized in the flood insurance rating process and has the potential to reduce insurance costs.

Atlanta Foundation Location

The marking of a structure or addition to ensure its correct proposed placement and compliance with setback requirements of the municipality.

Atlanta Foundation Survey

Verification that the poured foundation for a house or addition is located correctly as per the proposed plan and adheres to the setback requirements of the municipality. This information is presented on a drawing (plat).

Atlanta Line Staking

Identification of property corners and placement of stakes along property lines to serve as visual markers when erecting fences or making modifications to landscaping. No drawing (plat) is provided.

Atlanta Mortgage Surveys

Determines land boundaries, locations of buildings, above-ground utilities, fences, driveways, and potential encroachments. This information is presented on a drawing (plat).

Atlanta Recombination Survey

A survey required by the county, tailored to individual specifications, for recombining property that had been previously subdivided.

Atlanta Site Plan & Atlanta ADU Survey

A Site Plan is a pre-construction drawing (plat) that indicates the position of existing improvements, the proposed house or building, driveway, and other enhancements. It includes a Boundary Survey, Topographical Survey, Tree Location Survey, and a Grading Plan as per County requirements.

Atlanta Topographical Survey

Surveys that measure the elevation points on a specific piece of land and are represented by contour lines and dimensions on a drawing (plat).

Atlanta Tree Location Survey

A survey that identifies the location and diameter of trees. This drawing (plat) is then used by the Municipality's Arborist to determine the removal and replacement of trees affected by the proposed construction.

Connect with a licensed Atlanta Land Surveyor

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