In the almost 25 years that I have been a surveyor, thousands of landowners have contacted me to have their land surveyed. Too often, they make their decisions based on just one factor, price; which often leads to dissatisfaction with your choice and sometimes also to a lower quality survey. The following 10 tips have been developed from my experience and will help you hire the right professional surveyor to survey your land.
1. Is the person you are hiring licensed to perform surveying services?
- Professional surveyors must be licensed by the state in which they work or provide services. If you hire someone to inspect your land who is not qualified to inspect legally in the state you live in, you are wasting your money and that person is breaking the law. If in doubt, contact your state licensing board to confirm that this person is a licensed professional surveyor.
2. Does this person have professional liability insurance?
- This is insurance, like doctors’ negligence insurance, that protects you if the professional surveyor makes a mistake. Surveyors are no different than any other human being and can make mistakes in their professional abilities. Would you see a doctor or have surgery, knowing that the doctor or surgeon is uninsured due to negligence?
3. Does this person or company have workers’ compensation insurance?
- Every state is different, and not every state can require this – but who is liable if the person you hire, or their employees, are injured or injured while surveying your land? If this type of insurance is required in your state, make sure the person or company you hire to inspect your land has this insurance and complies with the laws of your state.
4. Does this person have experience in providing the services you need?
- There are generally no licensed specialties within the surveying profession, but make sure if you hire a professional surveyor to do, say, boundary surveying, they have boundary survey experience. Some surveyors may focus on the following areas: construction design, topographic surveys, cartography, geodesics, land development, and boundary surveys. So if you need a professional surveyor for a boundary dispute and the person you are considering hiring deals primarily with construction design, hire another professional with boundary surveying experience. Also ask how long this person has been working as a professional surveyor. Just hire an experienced professional surveyor to survey your land.
5. Is this person pursuing continuing education?
- Professionals keep abreast of technological and professional advancements. It is the experience gained from years of professional practice and a love of learning that makes a true professional. The professional surveyor you hire to survey your land should be knowledgeable and value continuing education.
6. Does this person have a professional demeanor?
- Do they have a professional appearance and do they treat you professionally? It’s about respecting you and it starts with your initial call and interaction. If they are not acting professional, they probably will not be in the topography of your land. Do they return calls and emails quickly? Are they willing, even eager, to take the time to explain how a survey is conducted? Are your office and vehicles clean, organized, and professional-looking? I’m not talking about fancy or expensive (which you will pay for); simply neat, organized and professional.
7. Do you use modern equipment?
- With all the technological advancements it has seen in recent years, such as personal computers, the surveying industry has also seen incredible advances in technology and techniques. We can now use a wide range of technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), computer-aided drawing (CAD), robotic surveying systems, and laser scanning, to name a few, that deliver greater precision, accuracy, and efficiency. Hire a professional surveyor who has invested and will invest in advanced technologies to continually improve their work, resulting in cost savings for you. You may not be familiar with some of these tools or what they are called, so ask if they use “AutoCAD Civil 3D”, “Robotic Total Stations” and “Survey Grade GPS” for example.
8. Do you request a written contract and when do you have to pay?
- A surveyor should be more than willing to provide a written contract detailing his services and what he will be charged for. Also ask when the payment is due. It is common for surveyors to receive at least half of the fee up front, depending on your credit worthiness and if you are a new customer. They can accept credit cards, such as MasterCard and Visa. If you and your professional surveyor are clear about the scope of work, fees, and when payment is expected, you will all be on the same page.
9. What are you putting on the corners of your property?
- The reason you hire a surveyor to inspect your land is to determine the extent or contour of the property. If the corners of the property are not marked, how will you know? And if it’s not marked with permanent markers it will probably 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 such as impending ground leveling or nearby construction activity, plastic flags hanging from a branch, or vague explanations, when the survey supposedly it is complete, such as “near the post,” “near the mailbox,” or “under the bush.” Suitable permanent markers include plastic stakes, iron rods, iron pipes, rebar, railroad spikes, magnetic nails, and other nails in paved areas, holes drilled in boulders or stone walls, concrete and granite boundaries.
10. Will they walk you around the property?
- In the course of conducting a survey, your surveyor will establish many independent survey control markers and find many existing monuments; not all of these may be on the corners of your property. It can be confusing at first. Therefore, make sure the professional surveyor is willing to walk with you around your property to identify the actual monuments and markers that mark the corners of your property.
In conclusion, the above 10 tips on hiring a professional surveyor to survey your land is so that you can find an experienced professional surveyor who will bring you value and quality. Your land is too precious not to hire the best professional surveyor and have the best relationship with this professional, right from the start.