Homebuyer Information Guide: Access, Boundaries and Easements
Access, Boundaries and Easements
You may access your property in several different ways. The state of Virginia maintains public roads that are numbered. Public roads are also maintained by the county’s towns. Some properties are accessed across privately maintained roads which are paid for by the property owners, while in subdivisions with Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs), the HOA may be responsible. Other properties are accessed from joint/shared driveways that may be protected by access easements across one or more properties, and for which the owners share maintenance costs. Your rights, responsibilities, and possibly costs will depend on how you access the land.
Make sure you have an up-to-date survey. Even the most experienced home builders can sometimes make a mistake when new lots get laid out. Older lots may need to be periodically updated to account for disappearing landmarks or encroaching hedges. The property may turn out to be bigger (or smaller) than you and the seller thought and the plat you receive from the surveyor will come in handy in multiple ways (landscape planning and deck-building, for example).
Easements and Setbacks
There may be several easements on the property you are considering. These include drainage, utility, land conservation, and right-of-way.
The easements on a typical parcel are for drainage and utilities. While the homeowner owns the property, easements give certain public and private entities the right to enter the property and perform work, such as mowing or line repair. In addition, the easements may place restrictions on what you can do on the property. You must exercise caution and due diligence in evaluating easements on the property.