As the Customer Service representative and Estimator at Berks Surveying & Engineering, Inc., I've heard a lot of strange stories from our customers about their need for a survey.
Among my top favorites:
1) My neighbor is creating problems (many nasty expletives describing the neighbor's activities or their dog's "activities" are explained to me in earnest).
2) I want to install a fence.
3) I want to erect a garage or shed.
4) I want to build a house or put on an addition to my house.
5) The municipality says topsoil is running off onto the road or onto my neighbor's lot when it rains.
6) I just want to know where my lot lines are because I just sold or just purchased, or am purchasing a property.
There are plenty of other reasons to have a survey done and I love it when my customers call me armed with their research. This gives me a challenge, because it's important for me to figure out just where their information came from and what authority may have garnished it.
The first question on a phone call for a boundary survey is, "How much is it gonna cost?".
Well, estimating a boundary survey is like doing detective work. I compare it to calling an auto mechanic on the phone and asking how much a car repair is going to cost when all the info the caller can give them is that their car is making a whirring noise. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't take my car to a mechanic that didn't look under the hood before giving me an estimate, if all they had to go on was a noise. So, with boundary surveys, we need to "take a look under the hood" for every property before estimating it.
FYI, here are some of the things we like to know when quoting a lot survey:
Location; acreage; are there any existing corner markers; is there a house & age of the house; are there trees/shrubs/fences/buildings on the lot lines that make it difficult to see past, was the lot surveyed in the recent past, do you have a survey plan/drawing or do you need one; etc.???
Next, we pull info online to look at the lot using Google Maps, County Parcel Maps, Deeds for the Property-In-Question and adjoining lots, Tax maps, and previous survey info when available. After our initial research we crunch the numbers, applying our 27+ years of experience doing similar surveys in the past. There are a lot of variables to consider and, until our deed research, calculations, and fieldwork get underway, nothing is to be taken for granted.
When we do a complete boundary survey, we'll clean/clear and check accuracy of corner markers found or set new ones. They'll be painted, staked, or flagged so you can find them when we're done. And, by the way, it is illegal for anyone other than a Professionally Licensed Land Surveyor to pull out or remove a survey marker. We'll create a survey plan/drawing, if you need one. And, if you're subdividing or building and need municipal and/or county permits or approvals, we can give you a detailed estimate and discuss the process with you.
So, when you're shopping for a boundary survey or other land planning needs, be sure to do your homework first. Make sure you're not basing your decision solely on the price. Be sure you're asked for more information and that the surveyor you hire is licensed and experienced. And if you call us, at the very least, have a great story ready.
Stay tuned for my next blog on FEMA Flood Certificate surveys for flood insurance or financing. Have a great 2018!