What Does A Surveyor Do?

What Surveyors Do

Surveyors have been an integral part of the development of western civilization. They have measured and mapped lands and marked boundaries throughout recorded history. Advancements in technology have changed the nature of surveying and cartography. Today, geomatics (surveying) professionals use an integrated approach to measuring, analyzing and managing spatial data. They employ high-tech equipment such as Geographic Information Systems , Global Positioning Systems, digital photogrammetry, digital total stations, satellite and terrestrial remote sensing to create a detailed but understandable picture of the earth’s natural and manmade features.

As a profession, surveying is so diverse that it attracts people of many different talents and interests. Surveyors work in private practice in small businesses and in corporations large and small. These people commonly establish property boundaries and design and lay out land developments. Surveyors also work for public agencies, establishing control for street and highway projects plus a variety of other public works and mapping projects.

Another facet of surveying is dedicated to measuring the earth’s surface to more accurately define the earth’s surface and monitor even minute movements in the Earth’s surface. While the common image of a surveyor looking through a telescope on a tripod is somewhat accurate, it falls far short of showing the large variety of jobs performed by the modern surveyor.

Surveying can be largely an outdoor occupation, or can involve a large amount of work at a computer and any combination in between. The experience of working on a survey crew can be an excellent starting point, and many have progressed “through the ranks” with this work experience.


Selecting A Surveyor

Before selecting a land surveyor, a property owner or developer needs to consider the surveyor’s qualifications. Details of the surveyor’s past experience and references should be requested. Like many professions, price is not the sole indicator of the quality of work that will be done for you. Select a land surveyor only when you are confident the person has the necessary facts as well as a thorough awareness of your needs and the requirements of governmental agencies.

In more complex land development projects or where boundary disputes occur, a land surveyor is often part of a team comprised of other professionals; e.g., attorneys, engineers, architects, planners and environmental specialists.


Value of Retaining A Land Surveyor

Surveying is a highly technical field that requires expertise in real property law, public records research, evaluation of historical survey evidence, mathematics, statistics, measurement systems, planning regulations and current computer technologies.

Surveyors are often retained:

  • Prior to purchasing real property.
  • Prior to beginning any construction improvements within property boundaries.
  • When dividing parcels of land for sale or adjusting existing parcel boundaries.
  • When property ownership disputes arise.
  • To investigate written records and historical survey evidence.
  • Employing the services of a land surveyor can help property owners avoid lawsuits or unnecessary expenses relating to land ownership or a potential land purchase.

Survey Definitions:

  • ADJOINER: The next-door neighbor or the property next to the owner’s.
  • ADVERSE POSSESSION: A situation where ownership can be claimed by use or occupation. As defined by law, certain rules apply which are best understood through consultation with a land surveyor or legal counsel.
  • AGREED BOUNDARY: When adjoiners reach agreement where boundary locations are in conflict. This can save thousands of dollars that would otherwise be wasted in resolving disputes.
  • ENCROACHMENTS: Physical evidence that may represent intrusion or trespass by someone with no legal rights to use the property as described in a deed (use of an owner’s land without permission).
  • OCCUPIED BOUNDARY: Land the property owner occupies that may be defined by fences, hedges or other improvements constructed near or on boundary lines, erected by either the owner or neighbors (adjoiners).
  • OWNERSHIP BOUNDARY: The perimeter of a parcel of land as defined in a deed or represented on a subdivision/partition plat. When the “Record Title Boundary” and the “Occupied Boundary” agree without evidence of unwritten “Encroachments,” a parcel is considered to be free of encumbrances. If the deed is in conflict with the “Occupied Boundary” or evidence exists of unwritten rights only the counts can settle the issue of ownership; e.g.; the public creates a path across property without securing permission from the owner.
  • RECORD TITLE BOUNDARY: The limits of land conveyed as described in a property owner’s deed.

Why do I need A Survey?

  • Unsure of your Property location?
  • You wish to erect a fence on a property line common to your neighbor?
  • New construction?
  • It has been requested by the Title company or your Lender?
  • A dispute with your neighbor as to the location of a property line?
  • You wish to divide your property?
  • You need an Elevation Certificate for Federal Flood Insurance?

There are many reasons. We can show you where your property boundaries are based on the information you provide to us, however a surveyor cannot tell you what you own. The actual right to title and ownership of property is insured by a title company and true ownership can only be determined by the courts in the event of a dispute. Your survey will usually be filed for public record and will show the property boundaries as described by your deed and/or title report. It will highlight any possible conflicts in property descriptions or uncertainties in title lines. In the event of a dispute or uncertainty in a property line we can advise you of your options and perform as an expert witness in court.


What Information Will You Need To Provide

  • The purpose of the Survey Ideally a title report – It will show the legal description for the land and any exceptions to title coverage such as easements.
  • If a full title report is not available some other form of identifying the property to enable us to locate the official public records for the property.
  • Any knowledge of existing survey monuments on or near the property.
  • Any knowledge of matters that may represent unwritten title such as fences in the wrong place or neighbors occupying a portion of the property.