Empire State Land Surveyor, P.C.
More Frequently Asked Questions About Land Surveying ...
1: What is a land surveyor, and what services do New York licensed land surveyors offer? A surveyor is more than one of those guys you see out in the road. Surveying is a vital part of the design and construction process. We perform boundary surveys to tell people where their property is, map the topography of land for engineering design, establish elevations of homesites for flood insurance, perform title surveys for real estate transactions, certify that structures are built according to design, lay out buildings, subdivisions and other construction projects so the construction companies can relate the engineering plans to the real world, and build control networks that all land parcels can relate to in a given area. We also map slopes and areas for pay volumes or quantities, map river bottoms for dredging, lay out photo control for aerial photography and photogrammetry, write legal descriptions that are used to describe pieces of property, map and layout corriors for tunnels, roads, airports, pipelines, cellular networks and railroads, and split up properties into new lots, such as subdivisions.

A New York Licensed Land Surveyor (LS) is a professional who uses applied mathematics and other technical and research skills to measure and plot:

    •   the dimensions of any portion of the earth's surface (including natural and other structures);
    •   the lengths and directions of boundary lines; and
    •   the contour of the earth's surface.                                                                      

2: When would I use the services of a land surveyor?   A survey should be ordered whenever there is a conveyance of any parcel of land, to be assured of the location of the boundaries of the land. Additionally, Land Surveys may be done to show the location or ownership of features, whether man-made or natural and to obtain Title Insurance Coverage over matters of survey. Most buyers and their lenders require a survey at time of closing.

You might employ a licensed LS to:

    •   perform a boundary survey to verify that a house, additions, and visible water and sewerage systems are on the property as described in the deed;
    •   determine if one property encroaches on another;
    •   ensure that a house or addition is within property lines prior to construction or purchase; and
    •   lay out the individual building lots in a subdivision.

Land surveyors also must perform topographic surveys, surveys of bodies of water (hydrographic surveys), and construction layout surveys for buildings and roads. for building and roads.

3: When must I employ a licensed land surveyor?  Generally, you will need the services of an LS anytime you need a government official's approval of survey plans (e.g., the approval of a subdivision). A LS is also required to prepare boundary surveys for property conveyances when filed with public official. These officials can only accept surveying plans stamped and signed by a land surveyor. Check with local government officials such as the county clerk's office or the planning department to determine what you are required to submit.

4: What records does my land surveyor maintain? Can anyone else get them? New York licensed land surveyors must retain for six years all preliminary and final plans, documents, computations, records, and professional evaluations they or their employees prepared, related to the work which the licensee signed and sealed. They may not reveal personally identifiable data or information without the prior consent of the client. The client may requeste copies of documents from the licensee which have been prepared for and paid for.

5: What can I do to ensure a good professional relationship with my land surveyor? 
  Make your needs known as clearly as possible and make certain that the surveyor knows why you are having the survey made. For example, when you have a survey of your property done and you want stakes to mark the corners, make sure the land surveyor knows this and has included it in the fee. Ask questions if you are unsure about any elements of the project.

It is strongly suggested that you have a written contract that describes the following:

   •    the work to be done and the services to be provided;
   •    work schedule;
   •    completed products; and
   •    amount and terms of payment of the land surveyor's fee.

6: What questions should individuals with disabilities ask about accessing services?  Ask such question as whether the service location is physically accessible (curb cuts, ramps, restrooms, etc.) as well as whether there is a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) and parking for people with disabilities.

7: What if my neighbor's property survey show that their property line appears to be on my property? First, verify that the location of your property lines are based upon a survey performed for you by a licensed land surveyor-and not one done for a former owner of the land. If it is one done for a former owner, You should have a survey made. If there is a discrepancy in the surveys over the location of property lines, have your surveyor contact the surveyor of the adjoining property to see if they can resolve the discrepancy.

If an agreement still cannot be reached, discuss it with your neighbor to see if you can reach a compromise on the location of the common boundary (such as splitting the overlapping property). Even if a common boundary is agreed upon, you should still contact your attorney to find out if any legal work is needed to formalize the agreement.

If no agreement can be reached, You may wish to settle the matter through the legal system.

8: Is a Land Survey the Same as a Mortgage Inspection? 
It is important that a "Land Survey" not be confused with a Mortgage Inspection. Most Mortgage Inspections will show the record or deed distances of the property lines and will not show a measured distance. This is usually adequate for loan purposes.

9: Are There Different Types of Surveys? There are several types of survey services which may be offered to a client. A few of these are:

    •   Survey of a lot in a previously recorded subdivision.
    •   Survey of a parcel described by distances and directions.
    •   Topographic survey to show horizontal and vertical aspects of the land together with the location of features thereon, both natural and man-made.
    •   Construction stake out survey for the building of improvements.
    •   Land Title Survey generally requested by a Title Insurance Company for extended coverage on a commercial property.


10: What is a Boundary? A boundary is any natural or artificial separation marking the border of two adjacent properties. A natural boundary is one existing in nature such as a river, while an artificial boundary is one created by written conveyance such as the Public Land Survey System, Subdivisions or Deeds.

11: How are Boundaries Created? Most boundaries are created by written documents (as Warranty or Quit Claim Deeds) that contact specific descriptions. Property rights may also be established by unwritten means such as long time physical occupation of land. A Professional Land Surveyor will research these factors and how they affect the boundaries of your property.

12: Global Positioning System (GPS):  
is a tool we use for precise positioning of points. It operates through satellites which send out signals to our receiver. The receiver then transmits those signals to our data collector, which stores the data. After we get it into the office, we download the data into the computer, and the computer software resolves from the data the exact position of our point within a few millimeters.


13: Traditional Total Station Surveying: The primary function of the field surveyor is measuring, mapping, and observing. Our most important tool for these purposes is our total station. It's given this name because it incorporates a distance meter for measuring distances and a theodolite for measuring angles into one instrument.

The total station measures by sending a beam of infrared light toward a prism, usually supported either by a tripod or a pole. The light reflects off the prism directly back to the total station. By measuring the time it takes for the light to return, the total station calculates the distance away that the prism is.

The information that the total station measures is recorded in a data collector for later downloading into a computer in the office. The data collector also doubles as a field computer, enabling us to calculate coordinate geometry in the field and figure out the proper position in which to put our stakes.


14: Leveling & 3-D Surveying: Another way we compute elevations of land, is, called differential leveling. It's called this because you are calculating the difference in elevation between two points on the ground. You basically look at a ruler held on the ground and see how high above the ground your level is set up. Then you look at the same ruler on a different spot on the ground and see how high above that spot your level is set up. This gives you the difference in elevation between the points.

We also derive elevations with our total station by using geometry and measuring the angles and distances, and by Global Positioning System by intersecting vectors from satellites in space, but this is often the easiest way.
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