Frequently asked questions

Why do I need a surveyor?

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Only a Professional Land Surveyor (or Civil Engineer registered prior to 1982) licensed by the State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors is legally authorized to practice land surveying in the State of California.  A survey may be required to help you determine the boundaries, features, or encroachments on your land in order to purchase, develop, satisfy local code or building requirements, or to settle a dispute over a property line with a neighboring property owner. The services of a Land Surveyor today will often cost you less time and money than the cost of relocating improvements or defending a lawsuit later.  

Be a smart consumer………
The California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (CBPELS) allows you to search for your surveyor to confirm the status of his or her professional license. 
CBPELS License Verification     


how much does a survey cost?

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The cost of a survey is relative to the total time and effort involved.  In most cases it is impossible to provide a client with more than an estimate or range, because many of the factors involved in calculating the cost are indeterminable prior to initiation of research and field work.  Some of the significant variables that may influence the final cost of the survey include:

  • Location and accessibility of the property (distance, size, terrain, and vegetation)
  • Availability of record documents (availability, clarity, completeness, and accuracy)
  • Perpetuation of monumentation (ease of location and identification in field)
  • Weather conditions and visibility (open line of sight, especially with GPS work)

We will provide a cost estimate based on years of prior experience and expertise in the field, and will often suggest ways to save time and money in the prosecution of our scope of work.  Please be aware that a proper and accurate survey is seldom achieved by the least expensive estimate.  A large variance between proposed prices from multiple surveyors may indicate that the low bidder is not conducting the necessary research of historical survey records, or neglecting to include the cost to prepare a Record of Survey when one may be required by law.

why is a record of survey required?

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The Record of Survey is the means by which field surveys relating to property lines, land boundaries, or other subjects are made available to the public.  It is a document that your surveyor may be legally required to file with the County, if certain information is uncovered or disclosed during the course of a boundary establishment.  The legal requirements governing when a Record of Survey must be filed are set forth in California Civil Code §8762, but are summarized below.  Your surveyor should be prepared to discuss with you both the requirements and the cost of filing a Record of Survey.  As an informed consumer, you should be aware that your boundary survey may not be defensible in a court of law if your surveyor has violated the statute by not filing a Record of Survey when required to do so. 

A boundary establishment occurs when a surveyor or registered engineer represents to another party (you, the client) the location, relocation, establishment, reestablishment, or retracement of a boundary or property line.  According to the California Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (CBPELS), the representation includes:

  • The act of causing a boundary or property line to be accepted or recognized 
  • The act of proving or demonstrating the location of the boundary or property line
  • The setting, resetting, or replacement of a corner, references, or witness monuments
  • The act of referencing a boundary or property line by showing dimensional ties to that line in relation to physical features or monuments located on the ground.

Per §8762, a surveyor shall file a Record of Survey if during the course of a boundary establishment, any of the following are disclosed and not shown on any previous subdivision map, official map, or record of survey:

  • Material evidence or physical change 
  • Material discrepancy (position of points or lines; dimensions) 
  • Evidence resulting in materially alternate positions of lines or points 
  • Establishment of points or lines not shown or ascertainable on previous record documents 
  • Setting of points or lines of any parcel described in deed or title instrument and not shown on previous record documents. 

what is the survey process?

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A preliminary phone conversation or meeting will allow us to get familiar with you and your project and determine what type of survey you need.  Additionally, we often perform an initial site visit to review field conditions at no cost to you, prior to developing a recommended scope of work.  We will submit a written proposal detailing our services and the estimated cost or not-to-exceed amount. Once you have reviewed and signed the proposed scope of work and fee schedule, and sent us a retainer, your job will be activated and put on our schedule.  

In advance of the scheduled site work, we will gather all agency maps and documents needed.  Our staff will review the information in the office and prepare any calculations or field process steps. Once at your property, our survey crew will begin working in the street, locating monuments that will help determine property lines. The remainder of their field time will be spent on your property gathering data. 

Back in the office, the data collected will be downloaded and converted into an electronic file that will be processed and validated to generate a draft of your map.  Your map will be subjected to our internal review and quality control process before the final version is sent to you for review and approval.  We will provide stamped hard copies of your map, as well as an electronic file in both AutoCAD and Adobe PDF formats, to you and any others you designate. 

If we are setting property corners, or performing certain other activities, a Record of Survey may be required.

what information should i provide to my surveyor?

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Photo by SonjaBK/iStock / Getty Images

Any information you possess regarding the history of your property – including observations or anecdotal evidence – should be shared with your surveyor.  You should provide copies of any record documents you have, including:

  • Previously completed surveys
  • Property deed and maps
  • Easement descriptions
  • Architectural or engineering plans (for staking, monitoring, or other construction jobs)
  • Title Insurance policy and/or Preliminary Title Report (for boundary surveys)

Note: if a document is required to properly and legally perform the scope of services (such as a Preliminary Title Report) is not available, the cost to obtain the document may be added to the cost estimate for the work.

More Answers………

The California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (CBPELS) has prepared a consumer guide with much more detailed information.

CBPELS Consumer Guide