A land surveyor prepares a report that defines the boundaries of a piece of land. Having a survey completed is the best way to be absolutely sure of what you are buying when you purchase a piece of real estate. It can be particularly important if you are buying a property on which you plan to construct a house since, among other things, the surveyor can identify what parts of the piece of land are legally buildable.
Ask people that you know that have expertise in real estate for recommendations. Some people who can be helpful are your real estate attorney, your real estate agent or title representatives. Your title company may be particularly helpful since title insurance policies sometimes require surveys. If you don't get suitable recommendations, many state boards let you search for surveyors on their website.
Check the status of the licenses of any surveyors that you find. They typically are licensed by state boards so that you can see very quickly if their license is current and if there are any complaints outstanding. Eliminate any unlicensed surveyors.
Interview the surveyor to determine their experience with projects like yours. Ask for references that you can talk to. Ask the surveyor what she thinks the project will require, how long it will take, how much she expects it to cost and if there is anything that could make the price go up. Surveys come in a few different types and just because a surveyor specializes in or offers a good price on one doesn't mean that she is competitive on all of them. Going out and simply placing stakes at the corners of the parcel is typically the least expensive type of survey. On the other hand, a location survey shows where the house and other improvements are located on the parcel. Boundary surveys are highly accurate and find the exact location of the parcel's edges while the American Land Title Association / American Congress on Surveying and Mapping survey format is a special type of boundary survey commonly used in commercial real estate transactions.
Request clarification on how the surveyor's billing systems handle the costs of travel and any hourly costs for surveys that take more time due to weather. Springtime and summer may lead to conditions where survey marks are covered by foliage, while wintertime snows can completely cover landmarks. Travel time is particularly important if your property is located some distance from the surveyor's office.
Talk to the surveyor's references to see if her past clients are happy with her.
Select the surveyor that offers the best blend of experience, reputation and service. While price is a concern, the cost of a survey is probably a small part of the overall cost of your real estate project, so getting the survey done right may save money in the long run.
- California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors: A Guide for Consumers
- Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon: Selecting A Surveyor
- The American Surveyor: Title Industry Changes Affect Surveying
- Federal Title and Escrow Company: Understanding 4 Types of Property Surveys
- Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon: A Guide to Selecting a Land Surveyor