Property Surveys
January 5, 2004 6:16 AM   Subscribe

I need advice on getting my property surveyed, to determine accurate property lines.

The going fee for this seems to vary quite a bit, judging from some calls made after a random walk through the yellow pages. What should I be looking for in a surveyor? What would be the red flags? My purpose here is preliminary to building a garage on my residential property.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Home & Garden (2 answers total)
Writing from New York State, your mileage may vary...

Did you get a survey when you bought your property? If you did, I would use that surveyor - they'd have your property "on file", as it were, and it might cost less.

(If you don't have a copy of the survey, and you used an attorney to close the transaction, they would (hopefully) have a copy on file.)

Beyond that, there's really not much difference that I've seen in surveyors.

You'll probably want to get the property staked (posts put on each corner of the property). We had this done when we bought our house and it was about $50-100 extra, but worth it, because we could physically see where our property line ended. If you're building a garage, this would be very handy.

(I've been doing residential real estate work for about 8 years now.)
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:46 AM on January 5, 2004

gnomeloaf's suggestion is good--someone who's worked on your property before would be good to hire, and I've also noticed no real difference from one surveyor to another.

If you're actually going to be building something, like a garage, it might help to visit your local building department and see what information, if anything, they want to see on your drawings when you go in for a building permit. Your building department will most likely vary from mine, but you can also probably get drawings from their records section that show the original lot divisions in your neighborhood, along with other info like layout of sewer and water lines or other easements. Any surveyor you hire will be using these same drawings to help determine what the metes and bounds (technical term for property line information) of your property and where monuments are (like the brass plugs in some sidewalks). You should then hire a surveyor with the understanding that he or she will need to provide enough information for you to be able to get a building permit, which they probably would do anyway. If you want the gold standard, hire a certified civil engineer.

You'll definitely want them to locate property lines and corners, easements (for power lines, sewer, water, drainage, etc.), street widths and distances from curb to property line, and the location of any existing structures.

As in gnomeloaf's post, regulations vary from place to place, so YMMV. I'm writing from California.
posted by LionIndex at 8:33 AM on January 5, 2004

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