In the nearly 25 years that I have been a surveyor, I have been contacted by thousands of property owners who wanted to have their property surveyed. Too often they make their decision based on one factor only, namely price, which often leads to dissatisfaction with their choice and sometimes an inferior survey. The following 10 tips are based on my experience and will assist you in choosing the right professional surveyor to survey your land.
1. Is the person you are hiring licensed to perform surveying services?
Professional land surveyors must be licensed by the state in which they work or offer services. If you hire someone to survey your land who is not qualified to legally survey in the state in which you live, you are throwing away your money and that person is breaking the law. If you have any doubts, contact your state's licensing board and verify that this person is a licensed professional land surveyor.
2. Does this person have professional liability insurance?
This is insurance, similar to that of doctors, that protects you if a professional land surveyor makes a mistake. Land surveyors are no different from other people and can make mistakes while practicing their profession. Would you see a doctor or have surgery if you knew the doctor or surgeon did not have malpractice insurance concrete installation?
3. Does this person or company have workers' compensation insurance?
It's different in every state, and not all states may require it: but who is responsible if the person you hire or their employees get hurt or injured while surveying on your property? If this type of insurance is required in your state, make sure the person or company you hire to assess your land has this insurance and complies with your state's laws.
4. Does this person have experience performing the services you are requesting?
Generally, there are no licensed specialties within the surveying profession, but make sure that if you are hiring a professional surveyor to perform a boundary survey, for example, that they have experience in boundary surveying. Some land surveyors may specialize in the following areas: building planning, topographical surveys, mapping, surveying, land development, and boundary surveys. So if you need a professional surveyor for a boundary dispute and the person you are considering hiring is primarily involved in building surveys, hire another professional with boundary surveying experience. Also, ask how long this person has been working as a professional surveyor. Only hire an experienced professional land surveyor to survey your property.
5. Does this person receive continuing education?
Professionals keep up to date with technological and professional advancements. What makes a true professional is an experience gained through years of professional practice and a love of learning. The professional surveyor you hire to survey your land should be knowledgeable and value continuing education.
6. Does this person have a professional demeanor?
He or she has a professional demeanor and treats you professionally. It's all about respecting you, and it starts with the first phone call and interaction. If they don't behave professionally, they probably won't be professional when surveying your property. Do they respond immediately to phone calls and emails? Are they willing, even eager, to take the time to explain to you how the survey is done? Are their office and vehicles neat, organized, and give off a professional impression? I'm not talking about extravagant or expensive-looking (which you will pay for); just neat, organized, and professional.
7. Do they use modern equipment?
With all the technological advances you've 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 drafting (CAD), robotic surveying systems, and laser scanning, to name a few, to provide greater accuracy, precision, and efficiency. Hire a professional surveyor who has and will invest in advanced technology to continually improve their work, which means cost savings for you. Some of these tools you may not be familiar with or know the name of, 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 do you have to pay?
The surveyor should be more than willing to provide a written contract outlining his services and how much you will be charged. Also, ask when payment will be due. It is common for surveyors to receive at least half to the entire fee upfront, depending on your credit rating and whether you are a first-time customer. They may accept credit cards, such as MasterCard and Visa. If you clarify the scope of work, fees, and expected payment date with the professional surveyor, they will be all on board with
9. What sets on the corners of your property?
The reason you hire a surveyor to measure your land is to determine the boundaries or contours of your property. If the corners of the property are not marked, how do you find out? And if they aren't marked with permanent markers that are likely to last for many years, what good is that? You should never accept wooden stakes as plot markers unless they are temporary due to some mitigating factor, such as impending grading of the property or nearby construction activity, plastic flags hanging from a branch, or a vague explanation when the survey is supposedly completed, such as "by a post," "by a mailbox," or "under a bush." 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, and concrete and granite boundaries.
10. Will they walk the property with you?
When carrying out a survey, your surveyor will fit many independent control survey markers and find many existing monuments; not all of these may be located at the corners of your property. This can be confusing at first. Therefore, make sure that a professional surveyor is willing to walk your property with you and identify the actual monuments and markers that mark the corners of your property.
In conclusion, the above 10 tips on how to hire a professional surveyor to survey your land is so that you can find an experienced professional surveyor who will provide you with value and quality. Your land is too valuable not to hire the best professional surveyor and have the best relationship with that professional, right from the start.