Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is a Land Survey?

A. A land survey is a measurement of real property showing the locations of boundaries and existing features of a property within the guidelines of state laws and professional organizations and prepared under the direct supervision of a registered or licensed surveyor for that state.

Q. Who Can Legally Perform Surveys?

A. Only a professional land surveyor who is licensed to practice in the state where the property is located can perform and certify a land survey. Our surveyors are licensed and registered in Alaska and Texas.

Q. Why Would I Need a Survey?

A. There are a wide variety of reasons to obtain a survey. Following are several instances when you should consider obtaining a survey:

  1. Buying or Selling Property – A survey may be required when you buy, sell, or refinance your property. A current survey will help the sellers or buyers and attorneys determine any boundary or encroachment problems with the property.
  2. Division of Property – A survey is necessary to divide property between individuals such as to divide a joint inheritance, or when selling a part of your property to someone else. This category could also apply to Land Development, when a large tract is purchased and then divided into smaller tracts to be sold.
  3. Improvements or Construction – It is wise to have a survey done prior to constructing fences or walls, or planting, pruning, or removing trees and shrubs along property lines to ensure these activities are confined within the boundary of your property. A survey may also be necessary to obtain a building permit for any construction you wish to do on your property.
  4. Land Development – When planning for improvements your engineer or architect may require a survey to design improvements for your property. Once the engineer and architect have finalized plans for construction, there may be a need for construction layout. After construction, a final or as-built survey may be required by your lender or the city where your property is located.
  5. Creating, Modifying or Removing Easements – A survey will be necessary if you want to create, change, or remove an easement on your property.
  6. Boundary Dispute or Encroachment – A survey will be necessary to determine the existence and the extent of a suspected encroachment between you or your adjoining owner or if there is a disagreement concerning the location of the property boundaries. If there is an encroachment or dispute, legal counsel is frequently recommended to work through any legal resolutions.

Q. Are There Different Kinds of Surveys?

A. Yes, there are several different types of surveys. Please refer to our Survey Services link for more information.

The following are the three main types of surveys:

  1. Land Title Surveys are usually required when property is bought or sold. In the last few years, using an old survey has been allowed in these transactions. While this will decrease the closing costs, the old survey may not represent the conditions actually on the ground currently. A current survey will address any changes that may have occurred, including any new improvements on the property or any new easements granted since the previous survey.
  2. Boundary Surveys are very much like a Land Title Survey. This type of survey is usually ordered by the land owner for a variety of reasons: to have their corner markers found or set so that the owner is certain exactly where his or her property is located; to have additional markers set along a property line for fence or other improvement construction; to locate any new improvements placed on the property since the prior survey; or, to help resolve any boundary line conflicts with neighbors.
  3. Tree Location and Topographic Surveys are used when preparing for constructing a house, a septic system, or other improvement on your property. A tree and topographic survey may be needed to assist your engineer or architect in the design. This type survey will show the trees and their sizes, define the contours (elevations), drainage patterns, etc., that exist on your property.

Q. What Should I Expect When Hiring a Surveyor?

A. You should expect the surveyor to ask you very specific questions about why you need a survey to determine exactly what kind of service you need. You should request a written agreement/proposal or contract defining the services to be performed, the fee you will be required to pay, and a proposed schedule to complete the project.

Q. How Much Will a Survey Cost?

A. The fee for a survey will depend on several things: the size, location, and accessibility of the property; the amount of elevation change across the tract; whether the tract has been cleared or is covered with brush and undergrowth; and the amount and availability of information and deed research necessary to determine the record boundary of subject tract and adjoining tracts, availability of survey monumentation, boundary occupation problems or disputed areas, the complexity of the boundary or improvements on the property, and type of survey requested, among other possible issues.

Based on your answers, the surveyor’s visit to your property, and the results of the preliminary research, the surveyor will be able to determine the fee, or a fee range, which could be several hundred dollars or several thousand dollars.

Q. How Long Does It Take To Get a Survey?

A. Land Surveying is a very in-depth process that may take several hours or several weeks depending upon the complexity of the project, property conditions, or research needed. It is best to contact a surveyor to set up a survey as soon as possible in order to ensure that the survey is complete when you need it.

Q. Why am I Paying Sales Tax on a Survey?

A. The Texas Comptroller’s Office and the State of Alaska, including local municipalities have determined that surveying is a real property service and, as such, is a taxable item. We must charge sales tax on activities performed to determine or confirm the boundaries of real property, or to determine the location of buildings or other improvements in relation to the boundary of your property. Additionally, we are required to charge tax on all materials used in the conduct of your survey. These items include monuments, stakes, flagging, paint and other expendable items.

Q. Why Did the Surveyor Go Over the Entire Block to Survey My Neighbors’ Property?

A. To prepare a reliable survey, the surveyor must examine all descriptions of record (deeds, plats, etc.) for the block or the immediate vicinity. He should try to find and locate all the property corners that are called for in those documents. This is the only way a surveyor can find any discrepancies or errors in prior surveys or deeds that might adversely affect your boundary line location. With the passing of time, often the original monuments are destroyed or disturbed requiring the surveyor to expand his search to adjacent monumentation in order to control your survey.

By doing the necessary research and field search, the surveyor can more accurately determine the intended location of his client’s property.

Q. What Is a Monument?

A. A monument is an object that marks a corner or an angle point in a property line. They can be natural monuments, such as the center of a creek, a rock or a tree; or, they can be man made, such as an iron pin, rebar, pipe, nail, buggy axle, etc. Key to this is the recovery of original “Called for” monuments described in the original deed or survey plat.

Q. I Only Need One or Two Corners (Monuments) Set. Why Do You Need to Survey My Entire Property?

A. When a lot or parcel of land is surveyed, the surveyor is responsible for any accepted evidence or monuments. At a minimum, the surveyor will need to perform enough survey work to be certain that all the monuments accepted reflect the true location of your boundary as the original surveyor intended. Therefore, in order to be certain that the monuments are in the correct locations, a full boundary analysis of your property is required.