Most land surveys are rather basic. The surveyor notes the size of the lot, its location, and the structures and land features on the lot. While that is well and good, it may not help you when you need to establish the value of everything for insurance purposes. ALTA surveys can help you with that. They are the top-of-the-line land surveys for all of the above, and everything below:
Improvements to the Land and the Structures on It
This type of survey goes above and beyond just listing the property/lot and number of structures on it. The surveyor is also required to list all improvements to the landscaping and to the structures themselves. So, if you have had a professional landscaper make the yard look absolutely perfect, and you have made major updates to both the home's interior and exterior, the surveyor performing this type of survey has to take note of it. He or she may also be required to note any known dates of when these improvements were made.
Rights of Way and Easements
Unless specifically requested, most general land surveyors will not and do not make note of rights-of-way or easements. He or she only reports what is already known. Performing the easements and right-of-way portions of a survey require delving into the property's history and making the proper notations of why and how these features on the property came to be. It is extra work that could go back decades, but the ALTA surveyor does it anyway.
Noting Railroad Property as It Crosses Yours
If you bought property that is very close to a railroad, the surveyor will not only note that, but he or she will note how the tracks cross your property or move around it. For the future owners (if and when you decide to sell), it tells them how close to a train they will be. Additionally, it will tell them if there are any areas on the property that need to be avoided because those areas belong to the railroad and not the property owners.
Essentially, These Surveys and Surveyors Note EVERYTHING
Even when it is not required, these surveys note it. The surveys are the fullest and most comprehensive you can get. Title, mortgage, and insurance companies love them even more because then they can give you an accurate quote for the value of the property and expected expenses in the event that part or all of the property and structures are lost to a natural disaster.