Minimal Standards in Land Surveying

Land surveyors are hired to make accurate measurements of your land. You may have a land survey done before you purchase the property or as you decide to build on it. To ensure your survey is accurate and correct, it is important to have it conducted by a qualified land surveyor conduct the survey who knows the minimal standards for land surveying in your state. These minimal standards vary across states and countries.

Most states’ minimal standards for surveying require that the surveyor provide a complete and unequivocal definition of land boundaries with enough information to allow the description to be plotted. Generally, this legal description must follow one of several surveying standards, such as the Public Land Survey System or the metes and bounds system, which describe how such measurements are to be taken and described. Between states, there is very little variation with regards to how this information is to be presented.

Prior to beginning a survey, it is standard for a land surveyor to research background data, such as property deeds or old surveys, to determine what is already known about the property. The surveyor will refer to this information when determining the logical procedure for conducting a survey of the land.

Although these are general rules for conducting a survey, the guidelines set forth by many states go into much greater detail. Most state requirements outline the minimal standards for conducting the actual land survey, as well. These may include searching thoroughly for past surveying monuments, cooperating with appropriate public officials and taking sufficient measurements to be able to verify that the work is accurate. In the course of the survey, a surveyor must often set monuments to record the boundaries on the physical property. Other requirements may outline exactly what material should be used for the monuments. Some states go so far as to stipulate exactly how the maps are to be drawn in an effort to standardize the process. These specific rules help to ensure that land surveys done by two separate surveyors should be as similar as possible.

Most states require land surveyors to record their notes as they work, in a manner that would be intelligible to another surveyor. In the event that the current surveyor disagrees with a previous survey, the present surveyor should contact the previous surveyor and attempt to resolve the issue.

Land surveyors must be licensed in the state in which they work. The licensing requirements generally include a test requiring knowledge of the minimal standards of land surveying as they are set out in the laws for that particular state. These guidelines often include ethical statements, such as stipulations that the minimal requirements should not be accepted as the only standard for the practice of land surveying. Other professional conduct standards written for land surveyors may address issues such as conflict of interest or knowingly signing off on a survey that does follow minimum standards.