ARTICLES: Choosing a Surveyor

A land surveyor is an integral part of a professional team composed of attorneys, engineers, architects, planners, and landscape architects. Some land surveying companies offer comprehensive services including some, or all, of the above.

Choose a land surveyor in whose skill and judgment you can put your trust. A land surveyor should not be selected by price alone. Competency is of first importance. Your selection should be made when you are sure that the professional you have chosen has all of the facts, and is completely aware of your requirements and/or the requirements of the governmental agency having jurisdiction over the property.

Land surveyors, like other professionals, vary in knowledge and ability. The experiences expressed by clients has shown the majority of land surveyors provide competent work for a fair fee.

How much will a survey cost?

The cost of most land surveying work is determined based on the following variables:

  • Type of survey: Costs may increase as the required precision and scope of the survey increases.
  • Record search: This varies by (a) the number of parcels involved; and (b) the number of past transactions. (This necessary step is complicated by the casual manner in which land transactions have been handled in the past, resulting in many vague, incomplete and often contradictory legal descriptions and land records.)
  • Size and scope of property: An irregularly shaped parcel has more corners to monument than a rectangular parcel containing the same area.
  • Sectionalized survey work: This could require the survey of the entire section (640 acres plus or minus) in which the land being surveyed lies, regardless of the area of the parcel. In some cases, a survey of more than one section is required, depending on the location of the parcel in question in relation to the sections when on the government plat.
  • Terrain: A level parcel of land is easier to survey than a mountain parcel.
  • Vegetation: Branches, brush and small trees must frequently be cleared to afford a line of sight for the surveyor. Shrubs, flowers, and trees on home sites are normally not disturbed, but may require additional field time to perform work around them.
  • Accessibility: The time to perform the surveying work varies with the distance to, and the difficulty in reaching, the corners of the site.
  • Amount of existing evidence on the property: Existing evidence such as iron, wood or stone monuments, old fences and occupational lines, witness trees, etc., aid the surveyor. Their absence may compound difficulties involved in retracing the original survey.
  • Local knowledge of the property: Someone pointing out accepted occupational lines and monumentation is a considerable aid to a surveyor.
  • Difficulties with neighbor: When neighbors are cooperative, an otherwise difficult or impossible boundary line location may be established by boundary line agreement.
  • Time of year: In summer, foliage may present problems making traversing difficult. In winter, weather may slow travel to and on site, and sometimes conceal field evidence.
  • Title company requirements: Title companies may require considerably more documentation than is normally required by the average land owner.
  • Record of survey or other maps: A record of survey map is generally required to be prepared and recorded to memorialize the field work and document the nature of property corners found or set. If your land is being subdivided, a parcel map or subdivision plat will be required.
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