A land survey is always required for new construction, but is the same true for a home remodel? And if so, what are the circumstances in which one is required? Advance Surveying & Engineering in Minnetonka delves into these questions.

What is a land survey?

Before we get into the meat of the questions posed above, a primer is helpful. A land survey is engaged in order to establish the boundaries of your home’s property. In addition to your home and its property lines, a land survey shows all other elements located on your property: a pool, a shed, a gazebo, and the like. A land survey must be conducted by a professional land surveyor. It’s not a task that the homeowner can undertake.

When is a land survey not required?

So long as your home remodeling project in Minnesota doesn’t extend beyond your home itself, a land survey is not required. Even intensive projects like finishing a basement, remodeling a kitchen/bathroom, or repositioning of walls are not subject to a land survey, so long as said projects do not extend beyond the confines of your home and into the surrounding property.

When is a land survey required?

There are two instances in which a land survey is required for work that falls under the category of “home remodeling”:

Putting on an addition

Most additions involve a change and/or encroachment on an existing property line, therefore triggering the need for a survey. The one possible exception is whether your municipality offers a “safe zone”: for example, a set amount of space in which your addition can occupy without needing a survey. Your city may allow you to extend an addition to within three feet of a fence or other property element. Of course, if this causes a conflict with a property line shared with a neighbor, than a survey is definitely required.


Tearing down and then rebuilding on your property is considered equivalent to building a new home, and so a land survey is required. Additionally, you may also be required to produce a topographic survey if the tear-down/rebuild has changed the surrounding earth in terms of slopes, hills, etc.

When is a land survey not required, but recommended?

For certain home improvement projects, a land survey is not required but recommended. Here are some examples:


If you’re building a shed, workshop, greenhouse, etc. and it’s anywhere near your property line, our surveyors near Minneapolis suggest commissioning a land survey so you can be 100% confident.

Permanent property improvements

Before you break ground on a new pool, a deck, a patio, or a driveway, it’s a good idea to get a land survey to ensure your desires don’t infringe on your neighbor’s property. Moving a shed is relatively easy – moving an in-ground pool, not so much.


There are several rules to follow regarding fencing, but for this blog it’s important to know that if you’re planning to build a fence that shares your neighbor’s property line, a land survey is helpful for heading off any disputes down the road.

Advance Surveying & Engineering is here for all of your surveying and engineering projects in Minnesota. Whether you’re ready to build or have questions about easements, building codes, or survey requirements, our experts are only a phone call away.

August 15, 2018 Advance Surveying