Land surveys give landowners binding, certified evidence of the true and legal boundaries of their property along with a record of the condition and rights associated with it. These assessments are necessary not only when property boundaries change, but also when the use of that property changes, such as adding or altering a building, easement, fence, driveway or other feature.
Surveying is also required by banks when a property owner decides to refinance their home, as a boundary discrepancy can lead to problems when proving what land the homeowner is, in fact, entitled to.
To avoid insuring property owners against existing issues, title insurance companies will mandate a new land survey be completed before issuing an extended title insurance policy.
The costs of a land survey vary depending on how much research the surveyor must do to obtain complete and reliable property descriptions, as well as the size and terrain of a site and time of the year.
Cost is not the only factor that should influence your decision to work with a local land surveyor. The monumentation tools used to mark boundaries and other features should be a top concern. When installed by a licensed professional, quality survey monuments and markers ensure demarcation lines remain established for many years to come. When lower-quality monuments such as wood are used instead, survey marks can disappear and require more frequent surveys.
Follow the steps below to find a well-equipped, licensed surveyor in your area.
Make copies of all closing documents for the property to be surveyed. If existing plot maps are available, review them before approaching surveyors––they may provide answers to some of your questions. Plot maps and information on easements are commonly found with title insurance documents.
2. Research local surveyors and surveying firms
The internet is a valuable tool for scouting potential surveyors. To help you in your search, start by finding the website of your state surveyors association. A quick way to do this is from the map (http://www.nsps.us.com/?page=state_affiliates) on the website of the National Society of Professional Surveyors. Simply select your state. Most of these websites will offer information and links to licensed professionals in your property’s area. A search for local surveying firms in Wisconsin is shown in the clip below.
If your state association doesn’t help you in your search, a location-specific Google search should return a list of local surveyors in your area as well as their contact information.
If you’re unsure of where you need to go, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) website provides a list of state surveying member boards here.
The clip below shows how a license search can be run for a local Wisconsin surveyor using the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) online license look-up tool.
Once you’ve confirmed the licensed surveyors in your area, contact them and describe the type of work you need to be performed. There are a few key indicators that signal an effective surveyor determined to do high-quality work. Here are the questions to ask and the answers to look for:
• “What types of marking tools and monument types do you offer?”
Ask prospective surveyors what types of marking tools and monumentation they use. A reliable, licensed surveyor should recommend high-quality metal markers and monuments or be able to support a client’s request to use high-grade metal equipment. This point is absolutely critical to the outcome of a land survey.
Berntsen has been putting the highest-quality survey markers and monuments in the hands of professional land surveyors for decades. We continue to innovate all of our surveying products to make installation easier for surveyors while ensuring property owners receive the most accurate, long-lasting surveys possible.
Follow the links below to direct prospective surveyors toward the highest-quality markers and monuments available, along with in-depth instructions and everything else surveyors need to supplement their installation:
Berntsen Survey Markers →
Berntsen Survey Monuments →
• “Are you licensed to perform this type of land survey?”
State statutes require that only licensed professional surveyors perform land surveys. These surveyors will have attained adequate education and/or experience in land surveying and must fulfill annual continuing education requirements.
• “Will you provide client references?”
Their willingness to provide contacts for prior work is a good indicator of a capable, confident professional.
One of the biggest mistakes a landowner can make is selecting a surveyor on the basis of price alone. In general, you should take the information gathered from the questions mentioned above when making a decision––not just the lowest bid.
Once you’ve identified a top candidate, schedule a meeting and have your property surveyed.
Your surveyor will need to obtain adequate information about your property and the properties, roadways, etc. adjoining it in order to begin the work. If you have a copy of your deed and/or a relevant survey map, you should provide it to the surveyor. Still, the surveyor will need to verify information about your property and the properties adjoining it by searching the records at the clerk’s office/register of deeds, etc. in your jurisdiction. If you don’t not have a copy of your property deed, you may be able to acquire it by contacting the attorney who handled your closing, calling the county clerk’s office, or working with a title company to search on your behalf. In any case, your surveyor may ask for additional information for researching your property. It is helpful if you have the following information readily available:
● District/County property is located in
● Deed acreage of property
● Current name on deed
● Deed Book/Page number
● Tax Map/Parcel information (this can be found on your tax ticket)
Be sure to let the surveyor know of any additional items, including previous survey maps from prior surveys that were performed on your or your neighbor’s land.
Like many professions, the quality of work performed can vary greatly depending on the professional you work with. Reiterating the point made in the previous section, a few surveyors may opt for cheaper, lower-quality survey monumentation such as wooden stakes, often without asking their client first in an attempt to cut costs.
While in many cases these are technically legal, official monuments, they do not have the longevity of higher quality materials and, as mentioned before, will degrade much more quickly than a high-quality metal monument.
Quality land surveys are an essential component of a secure, legal property investment. While surveyors work to remain competitive in their market, it’s up to property owners to understand why long-lasting markers and monuments are necessary. The costs of quality far outweigh the expenses of rework and give owners peace of mind knowing their legal boundaries.
To make things easy during your search, use the links below to ensure your surveyor installs markers and monuments guaranteed to last.
Browse Berntsen Survey Markers ⟶
Browse Berntsen Concrete Survey Markers ⟶
Browse Berntsen Survey Monuments ⟶
Have questions or want to learn more about Berntsen’s products? Contact us today or request a catalog.
7/31/2018 5:45 AM
My brother wants to build a home on some of his land, and I suggested that he first get the land surveyed. Your article had some great tips for choosing a land surveyor, and I liked how you said to create a list of potential surveyors you could contact, but first you should make sure they are licensed. Thanks for the post; I'll share this with my brother to help him hire a land surveyor.
9/14/2018 10:17 AM
Thanks for this advice for finding a good land surveyor. I'm glad that you mentioned it's good to try to ask surveyors what kind of marking tools they use. Perhaps researching common industry tools can help you get a better idea of the equipment surveyors should use.
9/17/2018 11:17 AM
Thanks for including in this article that it's important to check for licenses and certifications. I never knew that the state requires surveyors to have licenses, but that does give me peace of mind in working with one for our project. We need to start the groundbreaking within just a few short weeks, so we need someone that is experienced and can work quickly so that we'll be ready on time. Hopefully, we'll be able to find a company like that in our area.
9/28/2018 2:47 AM
Good to read
11/6/2018 11:06 AM
Thanks for talking about how it's best to get some information ready for the surveyor if possible like the name on the deed and other information about the deed. We never knew that that information is important to have, so we are going to have to track down all of the right information first. Hopefully being prepared will help us get through the survey quickly so we can move forward with our plans.
11/8/2018 6:32 PM
It really does help to know what kind of questions you should ask when choosing someone to handle your land survey. As the article points out, you will want to make sure that you find out which equipment they'll be using to handle the survey. After all, you will want to make sure that they are using the most advanced surveying equipment available to them.
11/28/2018 12:24 PM
I like the tip that you gave to make a list of surveyors who you are interested in contacting. My wife and I are thinking of buying a home, and we would want to make sure that it is deemed safe by a surveyor. If we do buy a home, I will be sure to make a list of possible surveyors to contact beforehand.
Berntsen International, Inc. has been "Marking the Infrastructure of the World" since its founding as Berntsen Cast Products in 1972 by Phillip Peterson and Peter Berntsen. The company garnered early success by manufacturing and selling top quality monuments to mark the nation’s boundaries. Investments in product and process innovation drive company growth and are a core reason why Berntsen is recognized as a premier provider of the best markers in the world. Today Berntsen has a product line of more than 1,000 markers and those products mark infrastructure and boundaries in over 100 countries. Read More...
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