Surveys Department

Tetra Land Services is a full service commercial and residential land surveying company.

At Tetra Surveys, we understand that accountability and a commitment to expedient service is vital to our customers. When we receive your order you will receive confirmation, via e-mail, so you will know that you know your order has been received. We also have the ability to transmit all data digitally.

As active members of the Texas Society of Professionals Surveyors, American Builder’s Association and many local and regional chapters and organizations. We dedicate time, expertise and knowledge to improving our community.

Tetra Surveys Specializes In:

Commercial Surveys – an ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey

A construction survey is defined as the survey measurements made prior to or while construction is in progress to control elevation, horizontal position, dimensions and configuration, and, following construction to obtain essential dimensions for computing construction pay quantities and establishing “As Built” conditions. 

For commercial closings, lenders will usually require a type of survey called an “ALTA/ASCM Survey.” ALTA stands for American Land Title Association, and ACSM stands for American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. An ALTA/ASCM survey is a Boundary Survey that must meet certain stringent standards established by these two organizations.

  • Survey existing conditions of the future work site, including topography, existing buildings and infrastructure, and underground infrastructure whenever possible (for example, measuring invert elevations and diameters of sewers at manholes);
  • Stake out lot corners, stake limit of work and stake location of construction trailer (clear of all excavation and construction)
  • Stake out reference points and markers that will guide the construction of new structures
  • Verify the location of structures during construction;
  • Provide horizontal control on multiple floors.
  • Conduct an As-Built survey: a survey conducted at the end of the construction project to verify that the work authorized was completed to the specifications set on plans.

Topographic Surveys

A topographic survey, or “Topo” survey for short, is done to locate natural and man-made features on a particular parcel of land.  The topographic survey is defined as the service preformed to determine the configuration, relief or elevations of a portion of the earth’s surface, including the location of natural and man made features thereon.  It is different in that the elevation of the surface of the land is surveyed and represented on the resulting map of the survey. 

The elevation or differences in elevation on the surface is usually shown as contours on the survey. A contour line is a line that connects points of equal elevation. This type of survey is used by engineers, architects, planners, developers, landscape architects and governmental agencies. 

 

Elevation Certificates

The elevation certificate is an important administrative tool for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and an important risk management tool for property owners with buildings currently classified within FEMA designated Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA).

An Elevation Certificate can determine where precisely your home is located in relationship to the Base Flood Elevation. You may want to obtain a flood certificate if your property is in a flood zone, and you are considering disputing it. 

If your building is in a high-risk area—a zone indicated with the letters A or V on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)—the EC includes important information that is needed for determining a risk based premium rate for a flood insurance policy.  

For example, the EC shows the location of the building, Lowest Floor Elevation, building characteristics, and flood zone. Your insurance agent will use the EC to compare your building’s elevation to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) shown on the map being used for rating and determine the cost to cover your flood risk. 

The BFE is the elevation that floodwaters are estimated to have a 1 percent chance of reaching or exceeding in any given year. The higher your lowest floor is above the BFE, the lower the risk of flooding. Lower risk typically means lower flood insurance premiums.

Base Flood: The flood having a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE): The water surface elevation, expressed as an elevation above sea level, of the base flood. This is the minimum elevation a community must adopt for building standards.
Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM): A map issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) showing flood hazard areas, BFEs, and risk premium zones.
Pre-FIRM: Buildings constructed before the community’s first FIRM. Communities might not have elevation information on file for these properties.
Post-FIRM: A building constructed on or after the date of the initial FIRM for your community. FIRM effective dates can be found at FEMA.gov/FEMA/csb.shtm.

Platting and Re-platting

Plat is a term for a survey of a piece of land to identify boundaries, easements, flood zones, roadway and access rights of ways. It is the legal description of a specific piece of real property that is required if land is subdivided for building homes, creating parks, and setting aside rights of way.  In Houston the rules for Platting are governed by the Code of Ordinances Chapter 42 – SUBDIVISIONS, DEVELOPMENTS AND PLATTING.

Reasons for Platting in Texas include:

  • Designation of roads or other rights of way.
  • Ensuring that all property has access to a public right of way. Without such access, a property owner may be unable to utilize his or her property without having to trespass to reach it. The platting process restricts the fraudulent practice of knowingly selling lots with no access to public right of way without revealing that such access does not exist. (Property that does not have access to public right of way may be sold, provided that the buyer is aware of the lack of a public means of access by water or land.)
  • Creation or vacation of easements.
  • Dedication of land for other public uses, such as parks or areas needed for flood protection.
  • Ensuring compliance with zoning. Zoning regulations frequently contain restrictions that govern lot sizes and lot geometry. The platting process allows the governing authorities to ensure that all lots comply with these regulations.
  • Ensuring compliance with a land use plan established to control the development of a city.
  • Ensuring that all property has access to public utilities.

Subdivision (Boundary, Lots, Streets and Utilities)

Any subdivision of property in the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction shall require a subdivision plat approved pursuant to this article. Prior to the subdivision of any property within the city or its extraterritorial jurisdiction, the owner of the property proposed to be subdivided, or the owner’s authorized agent, shall obtain approval from the commission or the director, as applicable, of a subdivision plat of the subdivision submitted pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.

All property in the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction that is subdivided shall be laid out under the direction of the commission, and the city will recognize no other subdivisions.

Sub-divided Lots

Per Sec. 42-20. of the Houston, Texas Code of Ordinance –  Subdivision plat required:

Except as provided in section 42-21 of this Code, any subdivision of property in the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction shall require a subdivision plat approved pursuant to this article. Prior to the subdivision of any property within the city or its extraterritorial jurisdiction, the owner of the property proposed to be subdivided, or the owner’s authorized agent, shall obtain approval from the commission or the director, as applicable, of a subdivision plat of the subdivision submitted pursuant to the requirements of this chapter. All property in the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction that is subdivided shall be laid out under the direction of the commission, and the city will recognize no other subdivisions.

(b) The requirement to file and obtain approval of a subdivision plat may be met by filing either a class I plat, a class II plat or a class III plat, as applicable to the property proposed to be subdivided. (Ord. No. 2013-343, § 3(Exh. A), 4-24-2013)

As-Built Survey

As-Built survey: a survey that documents the location of recently constructed elements of a construction project. As-Built surveys are done for record, completion evaluation and payment purposes. An As-Built survey is also known as a ‘works as executed survey’. As-Built surveys are often presented in red or red-line and laid over existing plans for comparison with design information.

As-Built surveys can be conducted several times over the duration of a construction project. The number of surveys completed will depend on the scope of the  project. The purpose of an As-Built survey during construction serves many functions; these include to verify to local and state boards that the construction work authorized has been completed according to the same specifications set during the planning stage and shown in the approved plans. As-Built surveys are required for various types of land projects such as; roads and trails, commercial buildings and utility placement and improvements.

The As-Built survey is an important metric. It shows what has been completed to date, which is a useful tool in adjusting the schedule of a large construction project. Construction managers use it as a tool to manage the building as it is under construction as well as after after construction is completed. 

Unlike many other land survey types, As-Built surveys are often three-dimensional, rather than flat maps. Also known as “field verification of as-existing conditions,” As-Built surveys have proven invaluable to those in many different positions responsible for the space in question. As-Built surveys can provide the basis for reconciling the drawings and other site plan information against actual field conditions and the work that has been completed to date.

Form, Slab, and Final Survey

Construction surveying or building surveying (otherwise known as “staking”, “stake-out”, “lay-out” or “setting-out”) is to stake out reference points and markers that will guide the construction of new structures such as roads or buildings. These markers are usually staked out according to a suitable coordinate system selected for the project.

  • Survey existing conditions of the future work site, including topography, existing buildings and infrastructure, and underground infrastructure whenever possible (for example, measuring invert elevations and diameters of sewers at manholes);
  • Stake out lot corners, stake limit of work and stake location of construction trailer (clear of all excavation and construction)
  • Stake out reference points and markers that will guide the construction of new structures
  • Verify the location of structures during construction;
  • Provide horizontal control on multiple floors.
  • Conduct an As-Built survey: a survey conducted at the end of the construction project to verify that the work authorized was completed to the specifications set on plans.

FEMA Elevation Certificate

The elevation certificate is an important administrative tool for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and an important risk management tool for property owners with buildings currently classified within FEMA designated Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA).

An Elevation Certificate can determine where precisely your home is located in relationship to the Base Flood Elevation. You may want to obtain a flood certificate if your property is in a flood zone, and you are considering disputing it. 

If your building is in a high-risk area—a zone indicated with the letters A or V on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)—the EC includes important information that is needed for determining a risk based premium rate for a flood insurance policy.  

For example, the EC shows the location of the building, Lowest Floor Elevation, building characteristics, and flood zone. Your insurance agent will use the EC to compare your building’s elevation to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) shown on the map being used for rating and determine the cost to cover your flood risk. 

The BFE is the elevation that floodwaters are estimated to have a 1 percent chance of reaching or exceeding in any given year. The higher your lowest floor is above the BFE, the lower the risk of flooding. Lower risk typically means lower flood insurance premiums.

Base Flood: The flood having a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE): The water surface elevation, expressed as an elevation above sea level, of the base flood. This is the minimum elevation a community must adopt for building standards.
Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM): A map issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) showing flood hazard areas, BFEs, and risk premium zones.
Pre-FIRM: Buildings constructed before the community’s first FIRM. Communities might not have elevation information on file for these properties.
Post-FIRM: A building constructed on or after the date of the initial FIRM for your community. FIRM effective dates can be found at FEMA.gov/FEMA/csb.shtm.

Title Surveys

A boundary survey generally shows the property lines, easements, and other details as mandated by the state standard. An ALTA/ACSM Land Title Survey must adhere to a set of national standards put forth by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping and adopted by the American Land Title Association.

These national standards seek to establish a common standard for commercial real estate transactions. The ALTA/ACSM standards require a more detailed report than the typical border survey and include:

  • Easements benefiting or encumbering a property.
  • Possible encroachments across the boundary or easement.
  • Whether there is access to a public road.
  • Zoning setbacks.
  • Flood zones that may impact the property.
  • Evidence of any use by other parties.
  • Water boundaries within the property.
  • Evidence of cemeteries.
  • The names of the owners of the adjoining property.

Before the surveyor even begins to survey the property some legal research is performed. The current title commitment is examined. The municipal and county records are searched for possible encumbrances; and the research itself provides some foreknowledge of the land and any possible conflict before the direct survey begins.

The Tetra difference

  • RPLS with 40+ years experience
  • Open lines of communication
  • Handles Platting process
  • Commercial and Residential services
  • Dedicate, professional field crew

Get in touch with us

Tetra Land Services is a full service commercial and residential land surveying company. We are HUB certified by the State of Texas and TXDot pre-certified. At Tetra Surveys, we understand that accountability and a commitment to expedient service is vital to our customers. Please contact us any time regarding our land surveying, platting, appraisal or other services.

2109 Lexington Houston, Texas 77098

713-462-6100

jvn@tsatx.com

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