In the nearly 25 years that I’ve been a land surveyor I’ve been contacted by thousands of property owners looking to have their land surveyed. All too often they make their decisions based on only one factor, price; which often leads to dissatisfaction with their choice and sometimes a less than quality survey, too. The following 10 tips are developed from my experience and will help you in hiring the right professional land surveyor to survey your land.
1. Is the person you’re hiring licensed to perform land surveying services?
- Professional Land Surveyors are required to be licensed by the state they work or offer services in. If you hire someone to survey your land that isn’t qualified to legally survey in the state that you live, you’re throwing away your money and that person is breaking the law. If you have any doubts contact your states licensing board to confirm that this individual is a licensed professional land surveyor.
2. Does this person have Professional Liability Insurance?
- This is insurance, like doctors’ malpractice insurance, which protects you if the professional land surveyor makes a mistake. Land surveyors are no different than any other human being and they can make mistakes in their professional capacities. Would you see a doctor, or have surgery performed, knowing that the doctor or surgeon didn’t have malpractice insurance?
3. Does this person or firm have Workers Compensation Insurance?
- Each state is different, and not all states may require this: but who is responsible if the person you hire, or their employees, get hurt or injured while surveying on your land? If this type of insurance is required in your state make sure that the person or firm you hire to survey your land has this insurance and is in compliance with your state law.
4. Does this person have experience in performing the services you require?
- Generally there aren’t licensed specialties within the land surveying profession, but make sure if you hire a professional land surveyor to do, say, a boundary survey, they’re experienced in boundary surveying. Some land surveyors may concentrate in the following areas: Construction Layout, Topographic Surveys, Mapping, Geodetic, Land Development and Boundary Surveys. Therefore, if you need a professional land surveyor for a boundary dispute, and the person you’re thinking of hiring mainly deals with construction layout, hire another professional experienced with boundary surveying. Also ask how long this person has been working as a professional land surveyor. Only hire an experience professional land surveyor to survey your land.
5. Does this person pursue continuing education?
- Professionals keep abreast of technological and professional advancements. It’s the experience gained with years of professional practice and a love of learning that makes a true professional. The professional land surveyor you hire to survey your land should be well informed and value continuing education.
6. Does this person have a professional demeanor?
- Do they have a professional appearance and do they treat you professionally. This is all about respecting you and begins with your initial call and interaction. If they don’t act professional they probably won’t be professional in surveying your land. Do they promptly return calls and emails? Are they willing, even eager, taking time explaining to you how a survey is conducted? Are their office and vehicles neat, organized, and professional in appearance? I’m not talking about extravagant or expensive (which you will be paying for); just neat, organized, and professional.
7. Do they use modern equipment?
- With all of the technological advancements you’ve seen in recent years, like in personal computers, the land surveying industry has seen incredible advancements in technologies and techniques, also. We’re now able to use a wide range of technologies like Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), Robotic Survey Systems, and Laser Scanning, to name a few, that provide greater precision, accuracy, and efficiencies. Hire a professional land surveyor that has and will invest in advanced technologies to continually improve their work, which results in cost savings for you. You may not know some of these tools or what they’re called, so ask if they use “AutoCAD Civil 3D”, “Robotic Total Stations” and “Survey Grade GPS”, for example.
8. Ask for a written contract and when you need to pay?
- A land surveyor should be more than willing to provide a written contract spelling out their services and what you will be charged. Also ask when payment will become due. It’s common for a land surveyors to receive at least half to all of the fee upfront, depending on your credit worthiness and if you are a first time customer. They may accept credit cards, like MasterCard and Visa. If you and your professional land surveyor are clear about the scope of work, fees and when payment is expected, everyone will be on the same page.
9. What’s being set at your property corners?
- The reason you hire a land surveyor to survey your land is to determine the extents, or outline, of the property. If the property corners are not marked how will you know this? And, if it is not marked with permanent markers, likely to last for many years, what good is it? You should never accept wooden stakes as property markers, unless they are temporary due to some mitigating factor like imminent land grading or nearby construction activity, plastic flagging dangling from a branch, or vague explanations, when the survey is supposedly completed, such as “near the Pole”, “near the mailbox”, or “under the shrub”. Suitable permanent markers include Plastic Stakes, Iron Rods, Iron Pipes, Rebar, Railroad Spikes, Magnetic Nails and other nails in paved areas, Drilled Holes in boulders or stone walls, Concrete and Granite Bounds.
10. Will they walk the property with you?
- In the course of conducting a survey your land surveyor will set many independent survey control markers and will find many existing monuments; not all of these may be at your property corners. It can be confusing at first. So, make sure that the professional land surveyor is willing to walk your property with you to identify the actual monuments and markers that mark your property corners.
In conclusion, the above 10 Tips On Hiring A Professional Land Surveyor to survey your land is so you can find an experienced professional land surveyor that will give you value and quality. Your land is too valuable not to hire the best professional land surveyor and have the best relationship with this professional, right from the start.