Frequently Asked Questions about Land Surveying in Northern Minnesota

Minnesota Land Surveying Frequently Asked Questions

FAQS – Click the Question to reveal the answer


Before you buy - You want to be sure you are buying property that is accurately described and is free from encroachments.

Before you sell - Knowing the accurate locations of your property boundaries will make for a much better presentation by your real estate agent when showing the property.

Before you build - A survey assures that you are constructing within your property boundaries and that it complies with government-required building setbacks.

Subdividing your land - Surveys are required whenever subdividing larger pieces of property. An experienced surveyor is familiar with local subdivision regulations and procedures.

Encroachments - As people build, remodel and expand, the possibilities of building on your neighbor's property or your neighbor building on yours increases. A certified survey showing the locations of the trespass in relation to the boundary can help solve these boundary disputes.

To determine legal access - Many rural parcels have roads that often cross adjoining parcels and may or may not have a legal easement to do so.
A. Many factors go into the cost of a survey including the size and terrain of the property, research and travel time, and the type of survey requested. Setting corners, flagging lines, mapping improvements, measuring contours, and preparing a Certificate of Survey all factor into the final cost. The amount of labor required is the main component of the survey's cost.
A. Surveys done by property owners are not legal documents. Without professional certification, the survey could be challenged in court should a dispute arise. A licensed surveyor also has access to more detailed information such as easements, overlaps and right-of-ways.
A. Every survey is unique. Legal descriptions, easements, flood elevation surveys and boundary surveys can be done relatively quickly. The preparation of drawings for the aforementioned, as well as site plans, can add several days on to a survey project. Subdivisions and platting can take several months to complete due to county requirements and approval.
A. In order for us to produce an estimate or a bid, the first thing we need is a copy of your deed. The deed will have an accurate legal description. Tax statement descriptions are not acceptable in that they are often incomplete and can be different from your deeded ownership. Once you determine what type of survey you need (boundary survey, topographic survey, etc.) we will do some research on the property area and local survey control. In some cases we will produce a firm bid, others are estimates, and some projects are billed hourly. Fill out our "Request a Quote" form and let us give you an idea of costs.
A. When property is first platted, survey markers are placed on all lot corners. However, over time these markers can be moved or destroyed. In rural areas, most land boundaries are controlled by section monuments, some of which have not been seen for over 100 years. Having markers or monuments replaced is the responsibility of the individual property owner.

Survey Lath Line

Survey Rebar Marker with Survey Cap
A. The survey process begins with public and private records research: deeds, legal descriptions, easements, rights of way, existing survey monuments. Based on the initial research, points are computed and placed on a stakeout sheet. Using these computed points, the field crew can accurately place property corners, flag lines and map improvements. After field data is collected, it is analyzed for accuracy. During this process, we can determine an accurate acreage, any encroachments, property corners, easements, rights of way, etc. Should you request a Certificate of Survey, this data is rendered on a drawing and reviewed by our licensed land surveyor.
A. Some surveys require a drawing but others are at the request of the client. A Certificate of Survey provides a landowner with a tangible, permanent record of the survey. By law, if an encroachment is encountered, it must be mapped and shown on a Certificate of Survey. Architects may require a Site Plan drawing prior to construction on a property. Easement sketches and legal descriptions are created and given to an attorney for proper legal filing.
A. Most survey documents are not required to be recorded. It is generally an option left up to the client whether or not to record their document(s). Only property subdivisions are required to be filed with the County Recorder's Office. Once recorded, survey documents are now scanned and kept on file forever.
A. Surveys have no "expiration date". However, over time survey markers may be destroyed, moved, or removed completely. We have often revisited older surveys of our own to verify and/or refresh our markers.
A. Talk to the surveyor who did the work. Most surveyors are willing to spend some time explaining the property lines and the methods used to find them. If you are unable to contact the surveyor who did the work or if you don't understand the explanation given, you may need to hire another surveyor to resolve the issue.
A. Bear Island Surveying uses the latest technology to accurately measure distances between points. A total station contains an electronic distance measurement device (EDM) inside a telescope that emits and receives light signals. A light beam is sent from the total station to a prism mounted on the point to be measured. The light signal is reflected back within seconds, angles and distances are digitally recorded in a data collector, and the result is accurate to about 1/8 of an inch. GPS methods are also utilized with the RTK (real time kinematic) method. A base station is located at a known survey control point. Using a radio transmitter, the base station sends a signal to the rover for the determination of its location coordinates. Even in this digital era, our surveyors still use field books, compasses and measuring tapes all on a daily basis.
A. Most subdivisions of land in Minnesota are regulated by county subdivision and zoning regulations. There are certain limitations and qualifications about if and when these subdivisions can be done. Whether you are developing your land for real estate sales, dividing a parcel amongst family members, exchanging land with a neighbor, or repairing an encroachment, Bear Island Surveying has many years of experience with the various subdivision processes.
A. All licensed surveyors are listed by name and number with the State Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience, and Interior Design. The State Board's website, will give the name of a surveyor from his or her license number.
A. Minnesota State Statute 505.31 states that: "It is lawful for any surveyor to enter upon any land for the purpose of locating existing survey or reference monuments or landmarks, provided, however, such surveyor shall be responsible to the landowner for any and all damages as a result of such entry, and no surveyor may enter upon any land unless first notifying the owner or occupant of the intended entry for such purpose." Although it is the responsibility of the surveyor to attempt to notify property owners, depending on your relationship, a courtesy call to your neighbor may be germane.
A. The County Recorder's Office has a record of every survey document officially filed. Local, private survey companies may be able to search their files for record of any surveys done on your property.
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