Bock & Clark 2022 July eNewsletter

Why Won’t a Boundary Survey Suffice?

Surveyor Conducting an ALTA Survey In efforts to save cost or time, parties in a commercial real estate transaction may contemplate engaging a surveyor to provide a boundary survey rather than an ALTA/NSPS Land Title Survey. However, a boundary survey only reports a retracement of the property lines and a resolution of any discrepancy the surveyor finds in either record description data or in observed field evidence, thus neglecting many other items that would be included in an ALTA survey. 

Boundary surveys are typically requested when there is a need for a property line or lines to be precisely identified in instances of disputes between neighbors, planned construction, or when a property owner needs to understand the limits of their property. All states have surveying boundary laws that dictate the surveyor’s responsibilities when providing a boundary line opinion, but a reconciliation of a property’s boundary is only one component of a survey needed by transaction parties and the title company to gain comfort in the commercial transaction. Much more information about the property may be required.

A boundary survey typically does not provide sufficient information that allows the title insurer to delete the survey exceptions from the issuance of their title policy. It also would not include the location of interior improvements and their relationship to the property lines, the location of recorded or observed easements, or any of the Schedule B II exceptions in the title commitment. It is likely to report any discrepancy regarding contiguity with adjoining properties and at the surveyor’s discretion, report evidence of use of others over the property lines such as potential encroachments. It should be noted that it would not include most of the surveyor’s responsibilities in the Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys or any of the twenty Optional Table A Items.

The Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA surveys were first authored and adopted by the Title and Land Surveying industries in 1962. The specific purpose was to provide a detailed and comprehensive survey to the title insurer that could be relied upon to make the decision to delete the standard survey exceptions from their title policy. Furthermore, if the insurer is asked to provide endorsements to their policy that relate to survey matters, such as location, zoning, utilities, etc., many additional optional Table A Items need to be a part of the scope of the survey.

A surveyor is often asked to provide a simple boundary survey for a transaction, but a prudent surveyor may ask questions about the intent of the survey. In discussing the scope with the client, the surveyor may inquire about location of improvements, parking spaces, building size, visible utilities, reporting easement locations, zoning information, and flood zone determinations. A typical client response is, “Yes, we need that information.” When all of this is necessary, the client is asking for an ALTA survey, not just a boundary survey. There are no cost or time savings between an ALTA survey and a boundary survey when accounting for these additional items. 

It is important to note that when providing an ALTA survey, boundary resolution is a vital component and is addressed in Section 3 of the Minimum Standards. If a survey reveals a discrepancy in a record property description or what the surveyor observes in the process of conducting their field observation, it could potentially create a title issue with the property and adjoining properties.

In the case of a vacant property, a boundary survey may be sufficient as there are few, if any, easements burdening the property. Whether vacant or improved land, it is imperative that prior to entering a contract with a surveyor, the needs of all transaction parties should be discussed. The buyer, lender, title company, and in some cases, the seller should be included in the discussion when they are responsible for providing the survey per the purchase agreement. Clear direction should be given or written within the agreement regarding the type of survey that is required, and if an ALTA survey is determined, the required Optional Table A Items should be listed.

There are some occasions when a boundary survey will suffice, but all involved parties need to agree as to what they are looking to take from that survey. As a result, additional reporting won’t be necessary, reducing the chances of increased costs and delays. Requesting an ALTA survey at the beginning of the transaction can often save time and money in the end.

Change is Good: NV5/Bock & Clark Becoming NV5 Real Estate Transaction Services

Blue NV5 logo NV5/Bock & Clark is currently working towards a brand repositioning that will take effect in December 2022. At the completion of this transition, legacy Bock & Clark will become NV5 Real Estate Transaction Services. The level of service and commitment to quality will remain unchanged, but the new brand will more fully integrate us into the NV5 family of companies.

All contacts here at NV5/Bock & Clark will stay the same as we provide the commercial real estate industry with ALTA Surveys, Zoning Reports, and Environmental and Assessment Services, nationwide. However, over the course of the next several months, our clients and contacts may begin to notice some changes as we update our website and other materials to reflect the new name.

Currently, our web address remains but we have begun the process of migrating our site to, which will be our new URL once the rebranding is complete. At that time, our section of the NV5 website will continue to offer online quote requests, showcase our educational materials including our handbook, newsletter, and blog posts, and provide general information about our services the industry has come to rely upon.

We look forward to this next chapter in our company history and appreciate the continued support of our customers. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your NV5/Bock & Clark contact.


  • NV5/Bock & Clark is a hole sponsor for the CREW St. Louis Golf Outing being held on August 1st. Lori Gabor will be participating as a golfer in the event.
  • In a month full of golf, Lori Gabor will be hosting the Halfway House at the CREW Chicago Golf Outing on August 23rd at The Glen Club. NV5/Bock & Clark is the Halfway House Sponsor for this event.