FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What does it cost to get a survey done?
A: The answer, or course, is "it depends". The biggest factor is how your property is legally described. The way a parcel of land is described tells a surveyor what is going to be involved in calculating and establishing the boundaries of that parcel. Parcels can be described by Lot and Block (platted property), or by metes and bounds. Other factors that affect the cost could include whether a drawing is needed, and the level of detail required, the geographical location of the parcel, the overall size of the parcel, or the terrain within the project area. The best thing to do is to call us to discuss your project. We will provide you with a fixed fee quote and a well-defined scope of work.
Q: My realtor showed me a pipe next to my neighbor's fence - is that my corner?
A: We get a lot of questions about how to tell which corner markers are correct and which are not. Sometimes an iron pipe or pin is the corner of the parcel. Other times it was placed to tie up a boat or to play horseshoes. The correct position of a particular corner monument can only be determined by an analysis of how that position relates to the position of other corner monuments nearby. Surveyors will sometimes also take into account the type of monument and the approximate age when evaluating the validity of a monument.
Q: I was recently asked if my property was platted or unplatted - what does that mean and why does it change the cost of a survey?
A: Platted property is described by a Lot and Block, which refers to a recorded subdivision, or plat. The plat is both a map and the legal document that created several lots out of a larger piece of property. Prepared by a surveyor, the plat is what guides us in retracing the boundaries of platted property. Because iron monuments were placed at the corners of the lots when the plat was filed, this type of legal description is typically easier to retrace than a metes and bounds description. The monuments controlling the boundary calculations for a platted lot are typically concentrated near the lot being surveyed. The age of the plat will often affect the cost, as sometimes the original monuments have been lost or moved over time. In some very old plats the corners were never set, or were marked with wood stakes that have long since rotted away.
Unplatted property is described by metes and bounds and is typically related to the Public Land Survey System (the corners of 1-mile squares set by government surveyors). Metes and bounds descriptions can be quite lengthy and more difficult to interpret than descriptions of platted lots. Sometimes the corners of a parcel that was described by metes and bounds have never been set. Controlling monumentation for a metes and bounds description can sometimes be up to a mile away from the parcel being surveyed. Depending on the terrain, this can get quite time consuming.
Q: How can I get a copy of my legal description?
A: The legal description of a parcel will appear on the deed, or as part of a title insurance policy or abstract. Property tax statements usually include the legal description of the parcel, although it is sometimes abbreviated (or incorrect). A copy of your deed should be on file with the county that your property is in. If you are unable to locate your legal description, we can help find it for you.
Q: I did not hire a surveyor, but you were in my yard digging holes, why?
A: Surveyors by necessity need to venture onto several properties in order to evaluate the relative positions of corner markers. Many years ago the legislature recognized this need and granted surveyors the "right of entry".
In Minnesota, the applicable statute is 117.041 Subd. 1, which states: "For the purpose of making surveys and examinations relative to any proceedings under this chapter, it shall be lawful to enter upon any land, doing no unnecessary damage."
In Michigan, the applicable statute is Act 115, Public Acts of 1976, which states "(1) A surveyor may enter upon public or private lands or waters in this state except buildings, for the purpose of making a survey. (2) A vehicle used for or during entry pursuant to this section shall be identified on the exterior by a proper and ethical sign listing name, address, and telephone number of the surveyor or firm."
As a matter or courtesy, we make an attempt to let landowners know what we are doing. Also, monuments that we dig up are carefully covered when we are finished.