Why do you charge for a map? Couldn't I save money without one?
Answer: That's not allowed under Wisconsin Law (Administrative Code AE-7, Minimum Standards for Property Surveys).
Even if it were, a map produced by a Professional Land Surveyor is the written record of boundary work for your property.
As such, it is extremely important that it is available in the future for other surveyors and your neighbors to ensure your boundaries are respected.
It is the minimum that can be done when a Professional Surveyor locates or establishes your boundary.
Any surveyor who offers to do this is breaking the law, and risks losing their license. And he's certainly not doing you the professional service you deserve.
Can I find my own property line?
Answer: No. Under state law, it takes a licensed professional land surveyor to do this. This requirement is for the protection of the public. If you or your neighbor acts on your advice, the potential downside could be very costly. Even building a fence is usually more expensive than a survey, so why would you risk having to move it because it is in the wrong place? A house or other building is many many more times as expensive to move or tear down, and it has happened.
How about a Realtor or builder? Can they find my property line?
Answer: No, the same applies to them. They are professionals in their own fields, but can't determine or find boundary lines. That task is reserved for the Professional Land Surveyor who has had years of educational and field experience and passed a license exam as well. There are even requirements for continuing education for retaining their license.
Is a survey of my property on file someplace?
Answer: Not necessarily. Depending when your parcel was created and if a surveyor was involved then, there may or may not be a survey. And even if there is a survey on file, it may be of such age that it can only be relocated on the ground with a lot of difficulty, even for a land surveyor. It also helps if the original work was of high quality, but that's not always the case either.
I already found a pipe. How can I tell if it's in the right place?
Answer: That's sometimes a tough question, even for a land surveyor. Of course, it's our job to determine that, but it never is enough to simply dig one up without testing it in a variety of ways to see if it's properly placed and hasn't been moved from its original position. It is possible that there's also multiple stakes supposed to be representing the same 'corner'. Which one is the right one - if any? Worse yet, if you dig to find them, you may be destroying valuable evidence that only a land surveyor can interpret, and it will be lost forever. I have found the faintest of evidence of the original placement of wooden post section corners by the US Deputy Surveyors from as early as 1832.
How often are there encroachment or other problems?
Answer: All too often. That's why it pays to get your land surveyed before you make an expensive mistake, and as such, it is a good investment.
Doesn't my Title Insurance cover me against any encroachment problems?
Answer: No. Title Insurance does not provide coverage against encroachments, boundary line disputes, or easements which would be disclosed by a current land survey. That, and more, is usually found on the last page of your Title Insurance.
Isn't land surveying made easy because of modern electronic equipment such as GPS and satellites?
Answer: Well, our modern equipment helps in measuring and making sure that your corners stay permanent, but one thing hasn't changed in hundreds of years: The land surveyor's two most important tools are a trained brain and a shovel. It's vital to know where to dig, and also to properly evaluate just what we dig up (or don't). Measuring is important, but not if measuring is from the wrong object. Your property is likely the most valuable asset you own; have it surveyed!