Question 1. Why Would I Need A Land Survey?
To find out the boundaries, or features of your land. To build, to develop, to satisfy local code or building requirements. To find out whether you have encroachments on your land or not. To find out where the land is that you own. Hopefully, you are not like many that are needing a Land Survey because they “have to”. This would be the case if they are disputing something with a neighbor, because one or both of them had gone on with building, developing, landscaping, fencing or using the land without knowing where the common boundary line is.
Question 2. What Different Types Of Surveys Are There?
Lot Survey: This is a survey of a lot in a recorded subdivision. Corners should be marked in accordance with existing state standards, and the owner receives a drawing depicting what comers were set and what comers were found.
Boundary Survey: These surveys are normally described by Metes and Bounds and may require extensive research of adjoining deeds, original government surveys, highway plans, etc. A Boundary Survey usually requires field work on neighboring lands to verify or find existing monumentation. Because many deeds were prepared in an office and not actually surveyed, and others are just poorly written, it may require extra research and field work to determine the property lines. The comers should be marked in accordance with existing state standards, and the owner receives a drawing depicting what comers were set and what comers were found, and the relationship between deed lines and lines of possession.
Subdivision Survey: This type of survey divides existing parcels into smaller parcels. These types of surveys are required to be recorded at the county recorder’s office and must also meet all requirements of government agencies. State standards require a minimum of two permanent monuments per block.
Topographic Survey: Although these are generally performed by a Land Surveyor, other professionals, such as Engineers and Architects may also complete them. These types of surveys are graphic representations of physical features of the land depicting natural and man-made features, such as fences, buildings, utilities, hills, valleys streams, lakes, roads, etc. They can be performed by field ground methods or by aerial photographic methods. The preciseness of this type of survey depends on what it is to be used for. These surveys should be completed in conjunction with a ”Boundary Survey” (which can only be performed by a Professional Land Surveyor) to show lines of possession.
Plot Plan or Site Plan:This type of survey may be required by local authorities or you may require it to insure that a proposed house or structure is constructed in the proper location and not over an easement or building set back line. A drawing may be required showing the proposed building location.
Surveyors Real Property Report: This is a report on the location of improvements and a cursory check for encroachments onto or from the subject property based on existing evide.
Question 3. What Can A Surveyor Do For Me?
A person generally has occasion to employ a Land Surveyor only once or twice in a lifetime. Since such employment is so infrequent, the average person is not always aware of the logical steps to be followed in selecting a land surveyor. To help in making such a selection, the answers to a few common questions are noted below. Surveys are required by law if you plan to partition or subdivide your property or to adjust your property lines. A survey is also desirable and advisable before purchasing real estate, and is frequently recommended by legal counsel or by mortgage loan companies. Remember, using the services of a Land Surveyor now could cost much less in time, worry, and money than the cost of moving a fence, or a building, or defending a lawsuit at a later date.
Question 4. What If I Disagree With The Surveyor?
Surveyors work with the best information available. They utilize recorded survey and deed data information together with physical evidence found on the ground. From this data, in conjunction with the Oregon Revised Statutes and other laws concerning land surveying, they make their conclusions. Any land survey is only as good as the information from which the conclusions are drawn.
Surveyors put their professional reputation and license on the line every time they determine a boundary location. It is in a surveyor’s interest to observe the survey laws and to make the most accurate boundary determination possible. They have no reason to deliberately locate a boundary line incorrectly. Occasionally, however, a surveyor can overlook an important piece of evidence that might change the boundary opinion in question. If you believe this to be the case, then it is your option to discuss the evidence in question directly with the surveyor.
It is insufficient to disagree with a boundary line determined by a licensed surveyor without any legal evidence. You must show legal evidence in order to refute a surveyor’s findings.
If after discussing the problem with the surveyor you still feel it has not been resolved to your satisfaction, there are other avenues that may be pursued. You can hire a land surveyor of your own choice to perform a separate boundary survey. The second surveyor may find a sufficiently different result or have a different boundary opinion.
When a situation disclosing a conflict in a property boundary occurs, you must then decide what solution options you are willing to consider. Often, you may have to weigh the value of the land in question or the value of proving a point against the potential cost of what it might take to acquire written title. If you have not already done so at this point, you should contact an attorney for advice.
The first solution if a conflict has occurred is to try to have the surveyors meet and mediate resolution. Other methods for solving a boundary problem also involve the cooperation of both parties in the dispute. A property line agreement or adjustment survey may be performed, with applicable deed recordings and survey map filings. A description may be written on the property or on a portion of the property, and recorded as an easement for a specific purpose to a specific party. Alternatively, you may choose to allow present ownership conditions to continue as is. If you choose to maintain the status quo, you may run the risk of being subjected in the future to acquiescence or adverse possession activity, either in your favor or contrary to your interests.
The last choice for a solution is having the case heard before a court of law. The court process is often the most expensive, but may be the only solution if the problem can’t be resolved by other means.
Written title to property acquired by unwritten means (acquiescence or adverse possession) can only be attained through recording a mutually signed document or through court proceedings. For that reason, allowing present ownership conditions to continue as is in the hopes that a problem will resolve itself will not resolve the ownership problem.
An accurate boundary survey, in which boundary lines are identified by a licensed surveyor and are legally defensible (and in which all necessary legal elements have been observed), is usually an effective means by which to resolve common boundary conflicts without burdening the property with additional legal encumbrances.
If the licensed surveyor’s ethics or professional conduct are in question, a complaint may be filed with the licensing agency, the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying (OSBEELS), located in Salem. Please note, however, that OSBEELS historically will not deal with contract issues or with business matters.
In Clackamas County for cases involving Public Land Corners such as Section Corner(s), Quarter Section Corner(s) and Donation Land Claim Corner(s) the County Surveyor should be involved. The County Surveyor in most counties have a program called The Public Land Corner Preservation Fund that may be able to find, restore and/or replace corners set by the Government Land Office beginning in the early 1850’s.
Question 5. Will The Surveyor Show Me What I Own?
Surveyors do not prove ownership, but he/she will give you their professional opinion of what the records and facts indicate your ownership to be. This opinion is satisfactory under most normal circumstances. Only a court of law can determine ownership more decisively than a qualified Land Surveyor.
Question 6. Can The Surveyor Aid In Subdividing My Land?
A Land Surveyor is the only one qualified to prepare a plat for a proposed division of land. The Land Surveyor may prepare an individual description or, if lots/parcels are being created, the surveyor may prepare a legal plat with lot or parcel numbers for recording. Platting rules differ slightly with each county or city. A qualified surveyor would be familiar with local rules and procedures.
Question 7. Can The Surveyor Design Public Improvement Systems For My Subdivision?
The surveyor will recommend an engineer to design streets, water supply system and sewer systems and to perform other engineering services that might be required. The Professional Land Surveyor will not attempt any aspects of engineering design which he/she is not qualified to perform.
Question 8. Can A Land Surveyor Perform Engineering Surveys?
Land surveyors conduct most engineering surveys. They are knowledgeable and equipped to prepare topographic surveys, to supply control for aerial photography, to layout construction projects, to survey right of way for power lines and roadways, and so forth.
Question 9. Can A Surveyor From An Adjoining State Perform A Survey In Oregon?
Not under normal circumstances. The obvious exception is if the surveyor from another state also possesses a license from the State of Oregon.
Question 10. Can An Engineer Do A Land Survey?
An engineer cannot perform survey work unless he/she is also a licensed Professional Land Surveyor.
Question 11. Can A Contractor Do Land Survey Work?
A contractor cannot perform land survey work unless he/she is also a licensed Professional Land Surveyor. Also, beware of survey technicians who may be skilled in only some aspects of surveying and are not licensed as Land Surveyors.
Question 12. Who Can Legally Perform A Land Survey?
In the State of Oregon only a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) can legally assume the responsibility for a land survey. The Professional Land Surveyor is an individual whose highly specialized background, training and skills have been rigorously examined, and who has been licensed by the State of Oregon to practice land surveying.
Question 13. How Do I Locate A Land Survey Professional?
Most survey work is acquired through the personal recommendations of satisfied clients, or through attorneys, real estate companies, and title companies who frequently handle real estate transactions. If it is difficult to obtain a recommendation, probably the most direct way would be to check the listings under “Surveyors – Land” in the classified section of the telephone directory. According to Oregon law, only licensed practitioners can advertise themselves as Land Surveyors. While the County Surveyor’s Office cannot make recommendations, they may be able to provide you with the names of surveyors who have worked in your specific area in the past. Surveyors should be able to provide you with references for their previous work.
Question 14. Is A Written Contract Required?
Traditionally, contracts for surveys have been by oral agreement. Many surveys have been requested over the phone. However, in recent years it is becoming more common for the client to visit the Land Surveyor’s office, discuss requirements of the survey, and enter into a written contract (which tends to assure a better understanding between the client and the Land Surveyor). A good contract contains a clear understanding of services to be provided, costs, time lines, and extra work contingencies. A good contract protects both the client and the surveyor.
Question 15. Can I Determine In Advance What The Charge Will Be?
In most cases it will not be possible to get more than an estimate, because many of the factors involved in the survey are indeterminable early in the process. Final cost is dependent upon the time required to perform research to obtain the necessary information of record, to perform preliminary fieldwork, to perform the required office computations, and to monument your lines on the ground. Most surveyors will prepare an estimate based on their experience in estimating hours of work (times their hourly fee schedules) which can be used as a basis for a written contract.
Question 16. Should I Employ A Surveyor On The Basis Of Price?
Not necessarily. Competency, service and responsibility are of first importance. Since low cost and high quality are often inconsistent, and judging the amount of work necessary to produce a quality survey may be difficult before the project begins, it is probably unreasonable to expect your surveyor to “bid” on a project, then stick to the bid price.
Question 17. What Information Should I Furnish The Surveyor?
Furnish the Land Surveyor with an explanation of why the survey is desired (if requested, he/she will maintain confidentiality). With the client’s purpose in mind, the Professional Land Surveyor can work more efficiently and thus reduce costs. If you have a deed or mortgage description, aerial photograph of the land, or an abstract, give a copy to the Land Surveyor. In addition, if you have knowledge of a stone, wooden stake, iron rod or pipe, etc. which was reported to you as a property corner, pass that information along to the Land Surveyor. He/she will make the professional judgement as to which evidence should be used.
Question 18. What Will The Land Surveyor Furnish Me?
The Land Surveyor’s final product will vary with each survey (depending upon the reason for the survey), but generally you will be furnished with a copy of a signed and stamped plat or map showing what the Land Surveyor has done, showing the corners monumented or otherwise identified. A narrative on the map will describe why and how the survey was performed. Since 1947, Oregon law has required that all surveys performed by licensed surveyors (in which a property corner is set) be filed with the County Surveyor. Your survey should be on file and copies available to the public if it was performed after 1947.
Question 19. What If My Survey Discloses Deed Overlaps, Encroachments Or Other Problems?
It is not uncommon to discover during the survey process that there are existing fence or building encroachments or other problems. There are many methods of resolving property line disputes, the most expensive of which is resolution before a court of law. More congenial resolutions require the cooperation of both parties; creation of an easement, adjustment of a property line, even maintaining the status quo are among the options to be considered. Your surveyor and your attorney can help you determine the best option for resolving property conflicts.
Question 20. What Does Your Office Charge To Survey My Property?
The County of El Dorado Surveyor’s Office does not survey private property. You will need to contact a Professional Land Surveyor (or Civil Engineer Registered prior to 1982) licensed by the State Board of Registration. Most Land Surveyors in private practice are listed in the local Yellow Pages or click on the following lists.
Question 21. How Can I Tell If My Property Has Ever Had Monuments Set?
Lots in Subdivisions and parcels of Parcel Maps are usually monumented by the Professional Land Surveyor at the time the division occurred. If you have a metes and bounds description (The division occurred by a deed rather than a map) you need to read the deed to see if monuments are called for in the description.
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