Surveying FAQ

What is the difference between a Mortgage Survey and Mortgage Report?

Mortgage Survey

  • Required by a lender to show the existing features on a lot or parcel such as buildings, drives, walks, fences, decks, and other improvements.
  • References buildings with distances to property lines and also show encroachments.

Mortgage Report

  • An opinion survey showing structures with no reference to property lines
  • Not intended to reflect precise boundary determinations.


I’m buying/selling a house. Will I need to get a survey?

It is up to the lenders involved in the transaction if a survey is required. Sometimes the property will have already been surveyed and a new survey will not be needed. Check with your lender or real estate agent. 


Why do I need a surveyor to stake out my house when I build?

Cities and Townships have ordinances that require houses and out buildings to be a minimum distance from property lines. To make sure your house meets the setback distances, it is a good idea to have us stake it out accurately before digging for the footings. Some municipalities require a location survey showing the "as-built" location of the foundation.

I want to determine the location of my property lines. What can EXXEL do?

Our surveyors can accurately determine property corners and property lines from information derived from plat maps and legal descriptions. Typically we put wood stakes right on the property lines at a close enough interval to see between the stakes so you can easily see where the line is. Taking pictures of your line with the stakes in the ground is a good idea for future reference. Exxel has been surveying plats in the West Michigan area since 1972, there is a good chance we’ve been in your neighborhood! 


My neighbor's tree is hanging over the property line. May I cut it?

We encourage everyone to get along with their neighbors and come to an agreement on trimming landscaping. We are able to stake property lines clearly but unable to provide legal advice. Please seek the counsel of a trusted lawyer. 


I see a stake in my yard. What does it mean?

Most stakes you’ll see by a house are either on a property line, easement line or Right-of-Way and should be labeled in some way. Sometimes you might find a stake where there is no property line – the stake is usually for a “reference point” where we set up our instrument in order to see around trees or obstructions. If you see a number like "TP #50" on a wooden stake, it is a reference point. Property corners are usually a piece of 1/2" rebar with a plastic cap. Please do not disturb it!

    Yellow caps are typically property corners or property line markers

    Red caps are reference points and are not used for property corners


How close to a property line can I put a fence?

Each City and Township may have its own requirements for where fences should be placed. Call your municipality office.

I want to split my land into smaller parcels. What should I do first?

Your first call should be to your local municipality to find out the requirements for parcel divisions. Before land can be divided, it must comply with the zoning requirements for acreage, road frontage, lot dimensions, and access. Our survey department can then help you determine your options and provide new legal descriptions for the parcel split along with a staked survey of the new property corners. 


What is a MBO?

On most lots in a subdivision, a house must be built high enough to avoid problems with drain water or high enough to have gravity fall for the sanitary lateral. A MBO is the Minimum Building Opening elevation. For a walk-out basement, the basement floor would be the lowest opening for the house. For a view-out basement, the lowest window sill is the lowest opening which must be higher than the MBO elevation to meet the requirement.

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