Property surveys are essential whenever you build a screen room. Find out why it matters and what can happen if you skip it.
Starting a screen room project without having a survey done puts you at risk for wasting valuable time and money. Without getting your property surveyed before building begins, you can face frustrating and unnecessary delays and costs that turn your dream of a beautiful, practical screen enclosure into a nightmare. When the project is completed, you want to have a screen room you can use and enjoy with no legal hassles. In nearly every case, there’s an important reason for getting the survey done.
Is a Survey Required by Law?
The truth is that surveys aren’t always a legal requirement for building a screen enclosure. It depends on several factors. In some Florida cities and counties, they are required. In others, they’re only required by law if the footprint of your home will change. As an example, Martin County building codes require a relatively new survey with no approval stamps already on it.
But, even if the housing regulations don’t demand a survey, you should consider the other legal factors involved as well as the effects on your home, property and neighbor relations.
What the Survey Shows
A site survey includes several features. Of course, it shows the layout and boundaries of your property. It also contains information and boundaries of easements and setbacks. It shows the elevation of the land as well as where the flood zone is located.
You may have easements on your property. These are areas that you own but others have the right to use in specified ways.
Your screen enclosure will need to allow room for property setbacks, too. Setbacks define the parts of your property where you can’t build because it could create a safety hazard, cause privacy issues with neighbors or disrupt environmental protection.
Is Your Property Line Where You Think It Is?
Often, homeowners, especially first-time buyers, only have a vague idea of where their property lines lie. Although the perimeter of the property is defined in the paperwork, what they often remember most are verbal descriptions from the previous owner or real estate agent. For example, they might tell you that a certain tree lies at your property line. The problem is that may be a rough description rather than a completely accurate one.
If you build outside your property line, you’ll likely face legal hassles and may need to have the screen enclosure taken back down or modified, adding extra time and cost to the project. Besides these legal ramifications, you might damage your neighborhood relationships, turning friendly neighbors into enemies.
Going Wrong with Easements
When you build over an easement, you are taking away the legal rights of anyone who holds an easement on your property. After all, they are guaranteed the legal right to use it. You own the property, but you don’t have any legal justification for taking away their use of the land.
So, what can happen if you impinge on the rights of an easement-holder? You could be forced to take the screen room down or even pay them damages after a civil case.
Setbacks are typically a matter of public policy. They are for the good of the community-at-large, residents of adjoining land, and the homeowners themselves. You should be informed about setbacks even before you purchase the property. Yet, this is information that often gets glossed over or falls through the cracks completely. Buyers aren’t usually thinking about setbacks when they make the purchase unless they already have plans to build onto their home.
Why Surveys Make Sense
A survey lets you know where the setbacks and easements lie. It defines your property lines for you in a clear and easy-to-read format. Even more important, it’s something you can show to your patio contractor to ensure they have the most accurate information available about where to build.
When all is said and done and your beautiful, new screen room is completed, the survey is almost always well worth the time and cost it takes to have it done. The month or so wait and the minimal cost is miniscule when compared to the years of pleasure you can gain from your screen enclosure.