A Successful Survey

A successful survey results in peace of mind today and stability for the future. It requires:

  • Thoroughly researching public records for survey and ownership information
  • A relentless pursuit and evaluation of the evidence
  • Formalizing sound decisions based on the facts and the Application of Boundary Law principles
  • Marking boundary lines and documenting the results for use today and into the future

Step 1: Formalizing our Relationship

Before commencing any work, it is important to ensure that we have an agreement or common understanding of the goals, expectations and costs associated with your land surveying services. This is especially important given that the amount of work and corresponding costs are often greater than many people perceive.

Since every survey is as unique as the property, not to mention the goals and requirements, after our initial communication, we will conduct preliminary research to enable us to formalize an estimated cost for services. That estimate will be placed in an authorization letter, which will be sent to you for review. In addition to the estimated cost, the authorization letter will outline our understanding of your goals and specify the services we would provide to meet those goals. Upon receipt of your authorization to proceed with the survey, the surveyor will begin research.

Step 2: Research

The location of your property boundaries is not predetermined from a surveyor’s office or one of those GIS maps, which are full of disclaimers for good reasons. Research is an essential step in the survey process. The location of your property boundaries is largely a matter of fact (some more clear than others), most often stemming from the intent and circumstances that took place at the time of the creation of your parcel.

Successfully determining the location of your property boundaries requires researching public and private records to attain an understanding of your property description, previous surveys in your area, and information related to section corners or private survey monuments that may exist today, and more importantly, that may have existed at the time of the creation of your parcel. Once the research is completed the field work begins.

Step 3: Preliminary Survey

Preliminary survey fieldwork is conducted to search for and gather evidence related to the location of your property boundaries. This evidence may include iron pipe monuments, occupation, oral testimony, evidence of previous surveys and evidence related to section monumentation around the perimeter of the section. In rural areas, it is typically necessary to search for and tie out evidence around the perimeter of the entire one-mile square section, and often into adjoining sections.

If part if the scope of services, all structures and various other improvements on the parcel are also located. This typically includes driveways, wells, septic systems and potential encroachments.

Step 4: Boundary Determination

Once research and preliminary survey work has been completed, office work is performed to review all available evidence related to your property boundaries. While applying the language in the deed to the ground is often the first step, it may not be the last. It’s not unusual for circumstances to exist which require additional evaluation or alternative solutions.

In some instances, the location of your property resulting from the language in the deed is not aligned with existing monumentation, areas of visible usage, or the location resulting from the original survey of your property. Keep in mind, despite the significance of boundaries and the consequences associated with not adhering to them, most real estate divisions and real estate transactions throughout Northern Minnesota have failed to include surveys or resurveys. This makes boundary determination extremely challenging as old evidence is not properly perpetuated, or simply doesn’t exist. Often times the result is a “latent ambiguity” in which unambiguous terms in the deed result in an uncertainty or discrepancy when applied to evidence located on the ground. In these instances, it is often necessary to conduct additional research or additional survey fieldwork before a determination can be made. On occasion, it may be necessary to work directly with your neighbors to formalize a Boundary Line Agreement or to reform your property descriptions.

Step 5: Marking the Lines

Once a determination or resolution is made, fieldwork will be conducted to set iron pipe monument at your property corners. This can be accomplished in many different ways. At times, there will be acceptable monuments already in place that will be held as the corner of referenced to the actual corner, if within tolerance. Other times no monuments exist and the surveyor will place all new monuments at all the corners of the parcel boundary. These monuments are capped with the name and license number of the responsible surveyor.

Step 6: Documentation

Once your survey is completed, we recommend that the results are documented by the preparation and filing of a Certificate of Survey. A Certificate of Survey is a drawing of your property boundaries, dimensions, the evidence used in determining your boundaries, the locations of any iron pipe monument set, structural improvements and any other information desired as set forth in an agreement. The Certificate of Survey is signed by a licensed Land Surveyor testifying to the work completed.