Top 10 Things To Know Before Hiring A Surveyor

Where can I find a reputable surveyor?

Davis Geomatics

Look in the Yellow Pages.  Most reputable surveyors or survey companies have a listing.  Many municipal governments also have a list of licensed professionals.  Abstractors, Attorneys, Bankers and Realtors can also be a source.  Perhaps you know somebody who recently had to retain the services of a surveyor, ask them.

Base your decision of retaining the services of a Professional Land Surveyor on their reputation, experience and availability, not on the fee or costs associated with their services.

What do I need to provide the surveyor?

When you retain the services of a surveyor you should be able to provide him with a copy of your deed or at least a copy of the legal description of your property.  If you have additional information regarding your property such as a previous survey or a copy of your abstract, this is also very helpful.

What is a Land Survey?

A land survey is performed for the purpose of locating, describing, monumenting and mapping the boundaries and corners of a parcel of land.  It may also include mapping of the topography of the parcel, and the location of buildings or other improvements upon the parcel.

What is a boundary?

A boundary is any natural or artificial separation marking the border of two adjacent properties.  A natural boundary is one existing in nature, such as a river; while an artificial boundary is one created by written conveyance such as Public Land Survey System, Subdivisions or Deeds.

How are boundaries created?

Most boundaries are created by written documents (such as warranty or quit claim deeds) that contain        specific descriptions.  Property rights may also be established by unwritten means such as long time  physical occupation of land.  A Professional Land Surveyor will research these factors and how they affect the boundaries of your property.

Are there different types of surveys?

YES.  The word “survey” is often used in a general sense but there are many different types of surveys.

  • Boundary Surveys are the most common and they serve to locate the limits of a certain property or description
  • Topographic Surveys are surveys that are usually required when construction is going to take place and all improvements and utilities need to be located as well as elevations of the property
  • Land Title Surveys are obtained when a loan is being secured on a piece of property (usually commercial).  Land Title Surveys are the most extensive and costly and are designed to provide comfort to the lender, Title Company and buyer as to title issues such as easements and encroachments
  • Mortgage Inspections are a product that is provided on residential loans.  Although a drawing is often provided to the client, be aware that these are NOT BOUNDARY SURVEYS.  Fences and other improvements should not be constructed based on a mortgage inspection.  Mortgage Inspections are not available in Texas.

How do I authorize a Land Survey?

Explain why you want the survey.  The surveyor can then advise you as to what standards and type of survey is required.  You should furnish the Professional Land Surveyor with a description of the property along with all other information or documents that you may have regarding the parcel.  These would include abstracts of title, title reports, previous survey reports and maps, and the location of any corner monuments.  The Professional Land Surveyor may request a retainer and written authorization to proceed prior to conducting the survey.

What will a Land Surveyor do for me?

The Professional Land Surveyor will conduct all work in accordance with city, county, state or federal laws and regulations and do so with the highest standards of ethics and practice.

The Professional Land Surveyor will at your request:

  • Study your property description and show or indicate, in their professional opinion, what the records and facts indicate the boundaries of your land to be.
  • Advise you of defects, which can have adverse effects on the ownership of the land with which you hold title to or have consideration of, with respect to the recorded description or encroachments onto or from adjoining description or encroachments onto or from adjoining properties.
  • Set monuments at your property corners and mark monuments to be easily found.
  • Set additional monuments upon the boundaries as specified by the client for constructive or other uses.
  • Provide a “Plat of Survey” (drawing), depicting the elements of the survey and indicating the findings for the service provided.  This document shall include a “Certificate of Survey” or “Professional Certification” which is signed and sealed by the Professional Land Surveyor.
  • File a copy of the “Plat of Survey” with the appropriate office or agency at your request or if required by resolution, regulation, standard or law.Davis Geomatics
  • Provide additional copies to other parties as specified.
  • Conduct all or portions of the service in cooperation with your attorney, banker, realtor, engineer or architect.
  • Prepare a written description of land for conveyance of title, interest, easement or rights of way.
  • Help you plan and layout a subdivision of land into lots, blocks and streets for resale or development.

What will a Land Survey cost?

Many Professional Land Surveyors charge by the hour.  The cost is dependent on many factors such as the type of survey and equipment required, weather conditions, availability of existing records and controlling survey monuments, type of terrain, access to the property and the surveyor’s familiarity and knowledge of the area.

In addition to salary costs, hourly fees include allowance for business overhead, such as taxes, rent, telephone, postage, utilities and other costs related to the conduct of a Professional Land Surveying business.  The costs for monuments, vehicle mileage, copying, recording fees, and other related costs associated directly to the service provided to you may be charged in addition to the hourly fee.

Due to these variables, it is often difficult to determine a flat rate fee for a land survey.  Most often a land surveyor can provide an estimate of final cost based on their general experience.

To reduce the possibility of a misunderstanding or disagreement, the land surveyor may request or require that you sign an agreement or contract that includes a description of the services to be performed, an approximate completion date, a lump sum fee or hourly rate and payment schedule.

Protecting Your Interest in Property Rights

The Professional Land Surveyor locates the property in which you enjoy your livelihood and for which future improvements could be planned and constructed.  Their professional service will cost less in time, worry and expense than relocating a building, fence or other improvement or defending a lawsuit in court due to a land boundary controversy.  Retain a Professional Land Surveyor before planning your development and investing funds, as a protection of your interest.

Why Choose a Professional Land Surveyor?

A Professional Land Surveyor renders a highly technical service in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, codes and court decisions established by city, state and federal authorities.  In cases of controversy they can appear as your expert witness, if necessary.  The surveyor assumes responsibility for their professional opinion and accuracy of their work.

State statutes limit the practice to only those persons duly licensed by the State licensing board.

Minimum Standards for Boundary Surveys and Mortgage Title Inspections have been established to protect the public from inferior land surveying.  These standards mandate requirements and procedures for conduct of a survey and information to be provided to the client.

Cautions for Landowners and Clients:

  • Contact the surveyor well before the survey is needed.
  • DO NOT replace a survey monument with a post.  Set a post beside the monument.
  • DO NOT move, remove or replace a survey monument.
  • Removing or disturbing a survey monument may be punishable under state law.

What if I Have a Concern or Complaint with a Professional Land Surveyor’s Work?

  • Ask the Land Surveyor for an explanation.
  • Obtain a second opinion from another Land Surveyor.

Information contained in this publication was gathered from the following sources:  Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado, Inc.; the Kansas Society of Land Surveyors; and the Oklahoma Society of Land Surveyors.


Measurements of Interest

1 Rod or Pole


      16.5 Feet

1 Chain


      66 Feet

1 Acre


      43,560 Square Feet

1 Square Acre


      208.71 Feet Square

1 Square Mile


      640 Acres

1 Vara


      33.33 Inches

Vara ÷ 0.36