When buying property in Colorado, there are many ways to visually represent the piece of land on a sheet of paper.

The four popular methods used in Colorado are:  ILC, Land Survey Plat, Improvement Survey Plat and an Alta Survey.

ILC – This is NOT a Survey!  This is a rendition of a visual inspection of the property.  The surveyor ties the fixed improvements to what “he perceives” to be the visual edges of the property.  The surveyor uses the recorded plat or recorded deed for all measurements.  An ILC is not required to show encroachments unless they are of improvements.  Normally, they are prepared for lenders and/or title company – not for owners!  The Improvement Location Certificate (ILC) usually shows the major structures, distances from structures to the deed property lines, (may also show easement areas).  Most of the time, an ILC will clearly show that a property has no encroachments, and will be sufficient for most mortgage companies.  If an obvious encroachment exists, or if  surveying shows a possible or debatable encroachment, you may want a more detailed land survey plat or a monumented land survey.  This is the most commonly requested type of “survey” on the Colorado real estate sales contract.  (Also useful if doing home improvements that require a “site plan” to obtain a building permit.) This is usually the “cheapest” or least costly of the “surveys” and costs about $300.

Land Survey Plat – Typically known as a boundary survey or property survey.  Also unofficially called a “pin” survey.  Required to set all corner points of the property boundary.  This plat DOES NOT SHOW improvements.  Typically used for “raw land” sales.

Improvement Survey Plat – Known as a “Land Survey Plat Plus”.  Same as a land survey plat, but also shows many types of improvements, utilities, encroachments, etc.

Alta Survey – Takes the Land Survey Plat and adds additional criteria set by the American Land Title Assoc (ALTA) and American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM).  Additional survey items can be added based on a menu of available options.  Usually on commercial and high-end residential sales.  Criteria updated frequently (every 2 or 3 years).  This is the most expensive “survey” and costs typically start around $1,000.