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What is a Land Surveyor?

A well-educated and experienced professional who, after passing extensive testing and background checks, is given a license to practice by the State Department of Education.  Currently in New York, eight years of combined acceptable education and acceptable experience are required before an applicant is allowed to sit for the 16 hours of exams.  Although the education requirement may be waived at the discretion of the board for engineering and land surveying, the acceptable experience would usually take much more than eight years to achieve in that case.  The Land Surveyor must also be currently registered in order to offer surveying services, which requires a number of hours of continuing education for each registration period.

When you ask “how much?”, please keep in mind the initial and continuing investment in knowledge required to earn and keep the privilege of providing professional surveying services to the public.

Why Retain the Services of a Land Surveyor?

A land boundary survey is one of the most important investments a landowner can make in his or her property.  The surveyor’s opinion is evidence of ownership and a key part of limiting the risk of your investment.  Historically, boundary disputes are one of the most litigated areas of the law, and regulatory setbacks for improvements are related to the land boundaries.

As with other professional services, you should select your Surveyor based on qualifications and his/her areas of specialization.

Land Stewardship; know what you own for the benefit of:

Avoid unnecessary stress –   Most land boundary disputes can and should be resolved out of court.  Get help before friendships and neighborly relations are ruined.  Learn about easements or covenants that may affect you, before they do.

Buying property – The cost of a surveyor’s opinion as a percentage of the value of the property is typically one of the lowest costs of the transaction.  At the same time it is one of the most important elements for the buyer.  Title insurance typically only covers the lender unless the borrower buys additional coverage for themselves.  In addition, title insurance might cover survey related matters if the insurance company is provided with less than a full surveyor’s opinion.  But this is risky because a claim needs to go through the litigation process and actual damages be shown before the policy would compensate.  This process can destroy neighborly relations and in many instances has resulted in those affected moving to a new location.  The full surveyor’s opinion is not a guarantee, but is a higher level of protection against problems surfacing at a later date.  It’s all about risk management for one of the largest investments most folks will ever make.

Selling Property – A quality, full surveyor’s opinion adds tangible value to the property.  It can help entice buyers and avoid last minute delays that may disrupt financing options.  Selling faster saves money and contributes to a less stressful experience all around.  It’s much better to find and fix any problems before dealing with a prospective purchaser.

Additions/New Construction – If you build into a regulatory setback, over the line, or on the wrong lot, you may be required to move the structure at expenses exponentially greater than the cost of a full surveyor’s opinion.

Forest Management – Given the value of lumber in today’s markets, you should not avoid a surveyor’s opinion coupled with line marking.  In some cases it only takes 5-10 trees that you know are yours to make a profit over the cost of the surveying.  In addition, the cost of logging on or over the line can be extraordinary, and could amount to treble the damages.

Flood Insurance – If you are close enough to a flood zone to need a determination, then you should purchase flood insurance.  This is so because these flood limits are determined empirically and flooding can easily happen outside the regulatory line.  Elevations determined by a Surveyor will enable you to purchase flood insurance for the least possible cost, and can amount to 10’s of thousands of dollars in savings.