Does your home renovation require a survey?


A renovation can be a great way for you to improve the value of your property while also tailoring your space to accommodate your family’s needs.  Not every renovation is created equal, however, especially when the changes you are making intersect with public safety.

As a rule of thumb, any type of renovation you complete within the confines of your home will not require a property survey.  This includes major renovations such as knocking down walls or completely refinishing a basement.

However, if your renovation changes the layout of your property in any way, you should acquire a property survey.  

For instance, if you are tearing down and rebuilding a portion of your home, you are required to obtain a survey.  A rebuilding project is equivalent to new construction, and any new construction must carefully align with property set-back lines and other codes within the municipality.  The same is true for home additions.  You want to make sure your added den or mother-in-law suite does not create a boundary dispute with your neighbor, or encroach over set-back lines and easements.

In some cases, a property survey is simply desirable (not legally required) in order to ensure you do not have to deal with complications once your renovation has been completed.  For instance, building a shed in your back yard should be a relatively straight forward project.  However, it’s a good idea to be absolutely certain where your property lines fall so that you will not face any boundary disputes once your structure has been completed.  The more expensive and permanent the structure, the more important it will be to order a survey.

In addition, most properties contain easements, which are locations on your property where entities (such as a utility company) are allowed access.  To avoid building your fence or shed over a sewer, for instance, you should obtain a survey, which will indicate the location of easements.


Rochelle Ratkaj Moser