Land Surveyor in the United States can trace the history of our profession back to the founding fathers of our country. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, three of the faces on Mount Rushmore, were Land Surveyors at one time during their careers. Lewis and Clark took survey measurements on their journey through the Louisiana Purchase to the West coast. Astronauts even placed reflectors on the moon so scientists could take accurate measurements to determine the moon’s orbit. A Professional Land Surveyor is defined by the State of Colorado as: “an individual who practices professional land surveying and who is currently licensed with the board after demonstrating competency to practice, as required by section 12-25-214.”…”An applicant may qualify for licensing as a professional land surveyor by endorsement and examination if such applicant passes the required examination or examinations pertaining to Colorado law.” The act of Land Surveying is further defined by the State of Colorado as: "the application of special knowledge of the principles of mathematics, methods of measurement, and law for the determination and preservation of land boundaries.”
For most people, buying property is the largest investment they will make during their lifetime. When a person buys property they are granted a bundle of rights via the deed which conveys that property from one owner to the other. Every state requires Land Surveyors to be licensed, and each state has laws regarding real property which are unique to that state. A Land Surveyor; during the course of his or her work is expected to comply with these laws, regulations, standards, and codes which have been established by sate, county, and local governments in order to protect the public and these rights.
The answer to the first part of this question will be different for each person depending upon their situation. Some local governments will require a survey prior to new construction in order to verify the development meets local zoning codes and regulations. In other situations someone may want to divide their property and sell a portion to a relative or for profit. In other situations the mortgage or title company may require a survey prior to lending on or insuring a piece of property. The other time a survey may be necessary is when a person believes there may be a conflict of the use of a property. A survey is important in all of these instances in order to protect the individual’s rights to their property as well as to protect their investment. We have spoken with many people who wished they had a survey prior to purchasing a piece of property; on the other hand, we know few people who regret having had one.
Here is the big question and the one that can be at times difficult to answer. It is not uncommon for a surveyor to be asked to provide an estimate on a property which was created 90 to 100 years ago. Most farms and ranches along the Colorado Front Range rely on corners which were set by the government in the late 1800’s. Some types of surveys can be fairly straight forward and most surveyors will estimate their fees based upon an hourly rate schedule and/or time and materials approach. All Land Surveys will require research of property records, recovering existing property evidence, survey measurements, office calculation, and drafting. The most difficult of these to estimate is the time it will take to research the property records and recover existing property evidence.