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  • What is Surveying?
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    Surveying or land surveying is the technique and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional space position of points and the distances and angles between them. These points are usually on the surface of the Earth, and are often used to establish land maps and boundaries for ownership or governmental purposes.

    A land survey is performed by a Professional Land Surveyor for the purpose of describing, verifying, mapping, and monumenting the boundaries and improvements of a parcel of land. It may also include the design and layout of new lots and streets, the determination of the physical features of the land parcel, and the location of buildings and other improvements upon the land. A land survey will locate on the ground what your deed describes on paper.
  • How much will my survey cost and why will it cost that much?
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    There are many factors that come into play during the process of a survey. These factors include things such as terrain, foliage, the availability of existing records and monuments, old recorded documents, the date of last survey, finding disturbed or missing property corners, the size of parcel to be surveyed and most importantly the scope of services required. Before the Professional Land Surveyor prices or quotes a survey, each of these factors should be analyzed. The more factors that are considered prior to compiling a cost estimate, the more accurate the final cost will be. Most Surveying contracts include disclaimers in case unknown or unexpected situations arise during the course of the survey. While encountering these are relatively rare, it is impossible to know the exact work that will be involved in a survey until work actually begins.

    It is important that you as the Client are upfront with your surveyor and let them know exactly what you expect as a final product and the services you expect to receive during the survey process. If you are unsure, the surveyor should ethically provide you with options that fit your intended needs and not try to "sell" you something that doesn't. Each surveyor will price or quote a job differently but they should all be able to provide prospective clients with a fairly accurate estimate upfront. The competency and experience of several land surveyors should also be judged before one is selected to perform the survey work. This will insure that the estimates you receive contain comparable services, and also allow you to feel comfortable in your choice of Professionals.

    The final cost is also dependent on whether or not you require a map depicting what survey work was performed. Sometimes you may only need to have the corner monuments verified or reset, or line stakes placed along the property line to visualize its position. Costs can vary greatly between the two, mapped or not. In some States a map is mandatory anytime a Surveyor places a monument in the ground. Other States require a map only under certain circumstances. Again, asking these questions upfront and receiving multiple cost estimates will allow you to feel comfortable with your final selection.

    It is very important to understand that simply shopping for the lowest priced survey will not necessarily insure that the best interests of the land owner are taken into consideration. It is possible that the lowest priced survey could be the least reliable. A good survey that meets your needs and legal requirements may cost more, but will be less expensive in the long run.

    The initial contract you are provided with should outline the exact services you will receive. Make sure when comparing quotes or estimates that not only does each one contain the same scope of services, but that each service will be performed to the same accuracy standards.

  • Why do I need a survey?
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    Simply stated, if you are in need of any of the Services outlined HERE, then you need a "survey". Unfortunately most people don't realize they need these services until something arises mandating that they seek them. While most of the services outlined on that page are typically requested by Developers, Contractors or Engineers, the private landowner can benefit from them as well. The most typically requested service for the private Land or Home Owner is the Boundary Survey. This type of survey would be needed to define the limits of your property for purposes such as building a fence or wall, installing a driveway, insuring that any additions to your home fall within the Governing Agency set-back requirements, ETC. If you need to know where your property lines are located, then you need a Boundary Survey.

    Another beneficial "survey" for the private owner is the Topographic Survey. This type of survey provides a map that depicts the changes in elevation across your property as well as currently existing features such as the house, driveway, landscaping, utilities, ETC. It can be used to determine the best locations for new improvements such as irrigation lines, retaining walls, patios, driveways, ETC. If you are planning improvements to your property the chances are good that a topographic survey will benefit you or any other professional working on the project.

    Even if you are not planning improvements, knowing where your property lines run is important. The largest investment most people make is their home or land. Each landowner should have a survey completed of their property to insure they are buying and getting what they believe they should. Each landowner should also know where their property boundaries lie in order to protect their property from encroachments and trespassing. Too many times people opt out of the option for a survey and end up with legal and or personal issues.

    To summarize, you need a survey to:

    • Protect the investment you are about to make when buying land by insuring before you purchase it, the deed describes the land you are buying.

    • Satisfy most lending institutions who will typically require a current survey for the purpose of revealing potential problems with boundary lines, easements, and encroachments.

    • Determine your property line locations prior to building a fence or other improvement near a property line.

    • Determine the proper location If a property line or property corner is unknown or in dispute, or if you believe someone is encroaching on your land.

    • Divide your land into smaller parcels to sell or if a will orders the land divided up.
  • How do I choose a surveyor?
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    As with all other professionals you should hire a surveyor based on their qualifications and their track record. Communication is a must. You should hire someone you are comfortable talking to and that you want to do business with. There are many licensed surveyors and they all must pass a test to obtain their license but their experience and qualifications based on your needs may vary greatly. Always ask for references and examples of their work. Word of mouth is the best indication that you are choosing the right surveyor.

    It is best to select a Professional Land Surveyor by qualifications and not solely price. A well-qualified land surveyor will take the time to ask you about your needs for the survey. The surveyor will then explain what is required to complete your survey, and will answer all of your questions in a helpful manner so that you understand the process.

    If you needed heart surgery, would you select the cheapest or the best surgeon? The same principle applies when selecting a Professional Land Surveyor. Remember, many times, the "cheapest" survey has cost the most in additional surveying and legal fees.
  • What are the qualifications to become a surveyor?
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    The requirements to obtain licensure varies from State to State. Some States nowadays require a four (4) year degree as well as a minimum number of years "experience" before they will allow you to take the examination. Other States will allow testing based solely upon experience but this is typically ten (10) years or more and must include equal time of both field and office experience. Once licensed, many states also require the Land Surveyor to take continuing education courses to insure that they keep up with the latest trends in technology and methods. It is important to understand that most State tests are structured to insure that the candidate for licensure meets the MINIMUM requirements necessary to protect the Public while carrying out Surveying work. This is why it is important to check the references of any Surveyor you are about to hire to insure that the have the requisite experience for the project you are about to begin.
  • Can a Land Surveyor tell me what I own?
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    What you "own" is described in the Deed to your parcel so the correct answer is No. However, armed with the Deed and the knowledge to research adjoining property deeds, maps, and other records, the Land Surveyor can mark the position of the Deed on the ground and create a map telling you the size of the surveyed parcel.
  • How can I tell what has been surveyed?
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    Land surveyors will place an acceptable monument at your property corners bearing the Professional Land Surveyor’s license number. A Record of Survey plat can also be prepared showing where these monuments are located relative to other features, the bearings and distances along the property lines and any other monuments that were used to resolve the position of your property.
  • What will the Surveyor do for me?
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    This will depend on the services you require but the Land Surveyor will typically study your deeds and show you what, in his professional opinion, the records and facts indicated the boundaries of your land to be. He will survey your property, and adjacent property, if necessary, to complete his work. He will set monuments at the property corners and visually mark them so the can be easily found. A record of this work is rdocumented for future reference. At this point a map may or may not be required.

    If required or requested he will prepare a plat or map of your property, indicating the measurements he has made, the monuments that were placed, and the computed acreage. He will supply the client with whatever number of copies they may require, each bearing his signature, certification, and seal. If mandated he will also file a copy of the survey with the county surveyor's or recorder's office.

    In case of controversy, he will appear in court as your Expert Witness. No one other than he can assume the responsibility for the correctness and accuracy of his work. He is the person best qualified to write a property description, when land is to be divided. He will help you plan and layout a subdivision into lots and streets. He will advise you if there is any defect in your land description or evidence of encroachments.
  • What information does the Surveyor need from me?
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    Again, this will vary based upon the services you request but typically the following items may be required:

    • The Deed to your property which should contain legal description.
      The exact purpose of the survey, so the surveyor can determine what type of survey you need.
      A copy of title commitment.
      A copy of plats or plans that you may have been provided with in conjunction with your purchase of from prior surveys.
      All available information regarding disputes over corners or boundaries.
      All information you may have about the location of your lines or corners.
  • I only need one or two corners (monuments) set. Why do you need to survey my entire property?
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    When a lot or parcel of land is surveyed, the surveyor is responsible for any accepted evidence or monuments. At a minimum, the surveyor will need to perform enough survey work to be certain that all the monuments accepted reflect the true location of your boundary. Therefore, in order to be certain that the monuments are in the correct locations, a full boundary analysis of your property is required
  • Why did the surveyor go over the entire block to survey my neighbors' property?
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    To prepare a reliable survey, the surveyor must examine all descriptions of record (deeds, plats, etc.) for the block or the immediate vicinity. He should try to find and locate all the property corners that are called for in those documents. This is the only way a surveyor can find any discrepancies or errors in prior surveys or deeds that might adversely affect your boundary line location. By doing the necessary research and field search, the surveyor can more accurately determine the intended location of his client’s property.

    During the performance of a survey there may be many reasons why your surveyor is locating things that are not on your property. Surveyors are required to “tie” their surveys to reference points that may or may not exist on your property. The verification of your property corners is done by locating other property corners and examining their location and their location given in the deeds and on the plats. If your property corners have been disturbed or removed it will be necessary to locate adjoining property corners in order to reestablish where your property corners belong.
  • How long is a survey good for?
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    Surveys are used in the preparation of legal documents such as deeds, easements, agreements, etc and these records may transfer land for many years and are often times the only source for finding the true and original location of property corners. This alone assures that surveys are good for a long time if not forever. Many times old plats or maps are used by current surveyors to retrace old boundary lines. Many people will only have their property surveyed once but may refer back to their documents for many years.

    A survey is like a photograph of a piece of property. It is only accurate as long as the conditions upon and surrounding the property remain unchanged. State law sets the statutory limit for liability for surveyors. Finally, if you are borrowing money to finance the purchase of property, your lender may require a survey to have been made within a certain length of time.
  • What if I disagree with a survey or a surveyor?
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    The first thing you should do is contact the surveyor that did the survey. Many times any misunderstanding can be resolved by addressing your concerns with the surveyor and seeing the evidence the surveyor found and hearing an explanation of the survey. If you believe the surveyor is acting unethical, you should contact the State Board where the Surveyor is licensed and they will investigate your complaint.
  • Do you survey with GPS and use the satellites?
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    A Global Positioning System (GPS) is just another "tool" amongst the Land Surveyors equipment. If this tool fits a certain job, then Yes, we will use it. Many surveyors use GPS to locate boundaries and other things needed in order to perform a survey. GPS is a great tool to have and use but it is the Land Surveyors duty to determine when it can be used and when it can't. This determination is made based upon the accuracy requirements for a particular project or task. As with any other tool, it is only good if the person using it has the knowledge to use it properly.
  • What do I do now that the survey is completed?
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    Depending on the reason for the survey, you may not need to do anything. If it is for a transfer of property you probably need to get the survey to an attorney to prepare a deed or in some cases it may need to be reviewed by a county or municipal officer in order to verify it meets all applicable zoning, subdivision and any other rules and laws. Your surveyor will help guide you through this process and make sure you have what you need.
  • How long does it take to do a land survey?
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    Often times when the need for survey services arises, time of the essence. The land might be immediately sold, utilities may need to be installed, or a home may need to be built. The land surveyor must perform certain tasks before he can ever begin to set the corners or lay-out improvements for your property. First the Deed needs to be received and the surveyor must research all available physical and non-physical information about your property. This usually includes acquiring the survey plats and deeds of adjacent properties, “tying in” existing fences and corners and calculating your corner locations based on Land Surveying Law and Standard Practices. This process can usually be completed in one or two days, with the corners being set on the 3rd or 4th day. This assumes that the surveyors scheduling allows him to start on your survey immediately. All Land Surveyors should be willing to estimate how long the survey should take and provide you with a fairly firm completion date. Keep in mind that certain factors such as weather conditions are out of the Surveyors control and may delay the completion date.
  • How do conflicting boundary and/or easement lines occur?
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    Boundary line gaps and overlaps are often a result of poorly written legal descriptions, or previous surveys that were performed without the benefit of a “competent” professional land surveyor. Another source of conflict can be misinformation given to the land surveyor, or the unavailability of certain information. However, if a conflicting boundary and/or easement does occur, land surveying law is written in a way to establish one true property line. Land surveyors have also established certain standards of practice which are acceptable in the profession. All competent land surveyors are familiar with these laws and standards of practice, therefore most all property disputes can be settled between surveyors without requiring court action or lawyers.
  • Why are land surveys so important?
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    Prior to the closing on your new home purchase, a land survey provides important information to you as the buyer. The survey map will show the limits of the land you are purchasing and identify any conflicts in your deed. It will also allow you to see if improvements such as driveways, fences, wells or even dwellings encroach over the property lines. Any existing property corner markers found by the surveyor will also be shown on the map.
  • How is a land survey performed?
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    The land surveyor's responsibility is to locate on the ground the boundaries of the land described in the deed. The surveyor also examines and maps various visible and apparent man-made and natural features as required for the purpose of the survey. Recorded deeds and maps are investigated along with the information and documentation supplied to the surveyor by the owner or title company. Additionally, extensive data gathering is preformed at and around the site.
  • How does a land survey help identify title to property?
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    Land surveys identify the record title lines of your property. The survey map shows the limits of the land that you are purchasing. A land survey certified to you provides critical information which, when used with title insurance, allows the buyer to make informed decisions and negotiate with the seller to correct any defects prior to the purchase. A land survey prepared for you and certified to you and to your title company affords important protection against claims which may arise after the closing.
  • What is title insurance and how does a land survey expand its coverage?
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    Title insurance protects the mortgage lender and the property owner (if insured) against claims to the property such as a disputed property boundary line. Most mortgage lenders require the home buyer to purchase a title insurance policy in the lender's name. This is called a Lender's policy.

    Title insurance policies do not provide coverage for encroachments, easements and boundary line disputes which would be disclosed by a current certified survey. This is known as the Survey Exception. Mortgage lenders routinely require a Survey Endorsement to their loan policies which limits the scope of the Survey Exception to the specific problems disclosed by the survey. In other words, a Survey Endorsement provides coverage against possible undiscovered problems involving encroachments, easements and boundary line disputes.

    To protect yourselves as home buyers, you should insist on an Owner's Policy with a Survey Endorsement based on a professionally prepared current land survey.
  • What type of survey do I need?
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    There are so many reasons you may need a survey that the best answer to this is to talk with your surveyor about your needs and they will be able to help you determine what type or survey is needed. A good rule of thumb may be to tell the surveyor to perform the survey like it is their property that should get you what you need and no unnecessary extras.
  • Why doesn’t Title Insurance replace the need for a Survey?
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    Although title insurance may eventually pay to straighten out errors in ownership or description of the property, it will never, for example, compensate owners for the embarrassment of owning the wrong house, the risk that a prospective purchaser backing out of the sale at the last moment since good title was lacking, or for the inconvenience of not closing on time.

    There is no substitute for having an up-to-date survey as part of a purchase transaction. While highly useful to prevent many types of loss, Title Insurance cannot replace the many benefits of having a survey; it only insures over the resulting problem.
  • Handheld GPS Unit: Can I Use It To Locate My Property Corners?
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    Simply stated, no you cannot.

    Handheld GPS units are navigational grade only and are only accurate to within 15 feet plus or minus under good conditions. 100 feet on a regular basis! Due to atmospheric disturbance they cannot be more accurate than that. You may get a false sense of the accuracy if you use it to find your deer stand, favorite fishing hole, or GeoCACHE because the GPS unit brings you within 15 feet of it. Because you see it, you believe it has led you to the EXACT spot, when in fact it has not.
  • How do I order a survey?
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    You can either fill in the form on the Request Quote page, or you can call us, and explain your needs, we will be pleased to discuss your options with you. In some cases, an appointment may be made to discuss the work needed and any documents you may have (title commitment, legal descriptions, old surveys, etc.). A written estimate or proposal will be prepared describing the work to be performed, along with the estimated fee, the terms & conditions and a completion date.
  • Should my surveyor walk the property with me at the end of the survey?
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    If this is something you request then absolutely! The Surveyor should be willing to show you how he marked the corners and discuss any particulars or the survey.
  • What is a Benchmark?
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    That is a fixed point on the earth surface that has a known elevation. These are used to establish the contours in a Topographic Survey or to check a finished floor elevation of a structure to see if it is in or out of the floodplain, for example during the preparation of a FEMA floodplain certificate.
  • Can I find my own property lines?
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    Legally, you must be licensed to establish a property line. In all States, the requirement of licensure to practice Surveying protects the public. If you determine your own property lines, for your own use, you take the risk of being wrong in your determination. If you then built something from your determinations, or findings, and were in error, your opinion would not even be admissable in court, due to the fact that you are not licensed to practice Surveying. If your neighbor had a Surveyor employed to determine the line(s) and you did it yourself, you are beginning by being wrong, having taken that risk. Is it worth it? You can decide that. Land usually costs a great deal of money. It does make sense to know where the property lines are.
  • What is a monument?
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    A monument is an object that marks a corner or an angle point in a property line. They can be natural monuments, such as the center of a creek or a tree; or, they can be man made, such as an iron pin, rebar, pipe, nail, buggy axle, etc.
  • If the real estate agent or seller show me the property corners, am I covered?
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    No. Although there may be exceptions in the instances of intentional fraud, there are no laws to protect buyers of real estate from the incorrect good faith efforts of those involved with the process of buying and selling real estate. In fact, many forms and closing documents state that the buyer is accepting the property "as is" and will not hold anyone responsible for such errors. Only a registered land surveyor that is working on your behalf can be held responsible for property lines.
  • My seller has a survey, so I don't need a new one, right?
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    No: Surveys performed for previous owners do not protect new owners. The basics of contract laws typically exclude a third party from liability. So, the previous owner, or seller, may have recourse if he or she is the party that ordered the survey, but you, as the new owner, do not since you weren't part of the transaction. Additionally, the statute of limitations for surveying errors is 6 years, so even the original client wouldn't have recourse on older surveys.
  • I found a point in the ground with ribbon on it, that's the corner, right?
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    Not necessarily. Reference points are used for line of sight measurements by surveyors and often have nothing to do with property lines. Many problems have erupted by mistaking a reference point (or "traverse point") for property line markers. Property corner monuments should be clearly identified on both the survey plat and on the ground.

DISCLAIMER: The above is not mean to constitute legal advice. Nor should anyone use the content of this FAQ for decision-making in lieu of the consultation of an attorney, a development consultant or a land surveyor. The information presented above is meant to provide a general understanding of the topics discussed and does not constitute a comprehensive treatment of said topics.

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