If you are planning to buy a piece of vacant land, you need to check a few things first before you make the purchase. The last thing you want to have happen is for the land not to work well for you. Below is some information about doing a survey and testing the soil to help you get started:
You should or you may even be required to hire a surveyor to do an ALTA survey on the vacant land. This is especially true if the land has been vacant for a long time. This is because a survey may have been done in the past but they did not have the technologies that are used today. This means the boundary lines may not be correct. There may be encroachment or ownership issues with the land. The land also may have never been surveyed at all.
An ALTA survey is much more detailed than a traditional survey and it must be done by a licensed and registered surveyor. The survey will show the exact boundaries of the land, as well as all easements if any. The survey will also show any improvements made on the property, such as fences, roads, or utility lines.
Having this survey can help protect you from disputes. For example, a neighbor may want to build a fence not knowing they are building it on your property. With this survey, you can prevent them from doing so.
If you will be planting flowers or want a large vegetable garden on the land, you should have the soil tested first. For example, if the soil is clay it is very difficult for flowers or vegetables to grow. This is because water cannot penetrate well through clay, which means water will not get down to the roots of the flowers and vegetables.
You can easily tell if the soil is clay. Dig a small area and grab dirt and squeeze it with your hands. If it stays in a ball when you open your hand the soil is clay. Healthy soil should immediately fall apart. If the soil is clay, you can add organic matter to help lighten the soil and improve drainage.
The soil test will show you the soil pH, which tells you if the soil is too alkaline or too acidic. You can then add nutrients to adjust the pH. If you need help, talk with a garden center employee, or hire a landscape company.
You can purchase a soil test kit from any garden center. You can also send a soil sample to your local extension office to have it tested.
Buying land is a big expense so knowing what you are getting will relieve some stress off your shoulders when you sign the dotted line.