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Land Surveying Frequently Asked Questions

Land surveying is a profession that requires technical skills, legal knowledge, and specialized equipment. You may employ a land surveyor only once or twice in a lifetime and not be aware of the steps necessary to select a land surveyor. The surveyor creates maps for architects, engineers, landscapers, and urban planners for use in designing houses, shopping centers, recreational areas, etc.

A licensed land surveyor should be employed: 

  • Prior to construction of a structure
  • Prior to any improvements on property
  • When subdividing parcels of land
  • When purchasing real estate 

The services of a land surveyor can prevent the worry and expense of moving astructure or defending a lawsuit. The land surveyor and lawyer work as a team in resolving property disputes.

A land survey is performed for the purpose of locating, describing, monumenting and mapping the boundaries and corners of a parcel of land. It may also include mapping of the topography of the parcel, and the location of buildings or other improvements upon the parcel.

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.

Most boundaries are created by written documents (such as warranty or quit claim deeds) that contain 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.

A monument is an object that marks a corner or an angle point in a property line. They can be natural monuments, such as the center of a creek or a tree; or, they can be man made, such as an iron pin, rebar, pipe, nail, buggy axle, etc.

The State of Colorado has laws requiring a licensed land surveyor (LS) to assume the legal responsibility of a land survey. The licensed surveyor is a highly specialized individual, whose education, experience, and competence have been formally examined and licensed by the state of Colorado. Their conduct and the quality of their work are subject to a defined code of ethics.

Prior to 1987 there was no requirement to record or deposit surveys in the Public Records. Properties surveyed after 1987 may have been deposited with the City and County of Denver. These surveys are available for public inspection or copying at DES Survey office in the Webb Building at 201 W. Colfax Ave. They may also be searched online at:  Land Survey Search.

The City does not provide land survey services to private property owners, you will need to contact a professional land surveyor. The City Surveyor's Office only marks city right-of-way lines, we leave the property lines to private land surveyors.

The control monuments for City right-of-way are offset into the streets. Over time many of these monuments have been buried during construction projects The City Surveyor strives to maintain and protect these monuments from destruction. You may see City survey crews digging up these monuments or occupying them with survey equipment from time to time.

  • Before you purchase it. This will disclose the relationship between the lines of possession and the deeded property lines.
  • A lending institution may require either a Land Survey Plat or an Improvement Location Certificate of your property when you borrow money on it.
  • Whenever you believe there may be a conflict of use on your property.
  • Prior to dividing any parcel of land for sale.
  • The county or city that your property is located in may require a Land Survey prior to the construction of any structure or improvement on the property.
  • When you intend to sell any tract of land.
  • When your lawyer, architect, real estate agent or municipal planning or engineering office advises or requires it.

Explain why you want the survey. The surveyor can then advise you as to what standards and type of survey is required. You should furnish the Professional Land Surveyor with a description of the property along with all other information or documents that you may have regarding the parcel. These would include abstracts of title, title reports, previous survey reports and maps, and the location of any corner monuments. The Professional Land Surveyor may request a retainer and written authorization to proceed prior to conducting the survey

The Professional Land Surveyor's fees will be based on the anticipated difficulty and time required to complete the project. Routine survey projects may be estimated as to cost, but the client should be aware that in many situations, the Professional Land Surveyor cannot predict the amount of work that will be required to recover necessary monuments, restore lost or obliterated corners, research city and county records, collect field data, complete mathematical calculations, and prepare descriptions and maps of the property. All of this must be combined and analyzed to establish the location of property corners and create the final map.

One of the most uncertain and costly parts of the survey is the recovery of various types of monuments. It is important for land owners, contractors and the general public to be aware that the careless treatment and destruction of survey monuments adds time and cost to subsequent surveys. Competitive bidding for the lowest price does not necessarily protect the interests of the client, the public or the Professional Land Surveyor. The competency, reputation, education and experience of several surveyors should be considered.

Since a fence is a relatively permanent structure, you will want to be sure of the location of your property lines before construction. Although some public agencies will issue a building permit (if required) upon presentation of an Improvement Location Certificate, it should not be relied upon for the establishment of any permanent structure. The prudent course of action is to locate existing property corners that delineate your property line and have the validity of the monuments verified by a surveyor. If you are not able to find your property corners, ask for the assistance of a surveyor. He may be able to find monuments using a magnetic locator and cloth tape. If the surveyor is not able to locate existing monuments, you may need to have a monumented land survey performed and possibly a land survey plat prepared.   Residental Permits

Along with the information required to build a fence, the location of any existing structures may be helpful. This information would be provided on an improvement survey plat. If new improvements are significant, the preparation of a topographic map may help to determine a finished floor elevation that will allow for both drainage and a pleasing appearance. After the preparation of construction plans, a surveyor can stake the proposed building corners to ensure that the information is transferred accurately to the ground and to ultimate construction.  Residential Permits 

To prepare a reliable survey, the surveyor must examine all descriptions of record (deeds, plats, etc.) for the block or the immediate vicinity. He should try to find and locate all the property corners that are called for in those documents. This is the only way a surveyor can find any discrepancies or errors in prior surveys or deeds that might adversely affect your boundary line location. By doing the necessary research and field search, the surveyor can more accurately determine the intended location of his client’s property.

When a lot or parcel of land is surveyed, the surveyor is responsible for any accepted evidence or monuments. At a minimum, the surveyor will need to perform enough survey work to be certain that all the monuments accepted reflect the true location of your boundary. Therefore, in order to be certain that the monuments are in the correct locations, a full boundary analysis of your property is required

A survey is like a photograph of a piece of property. It is only accurate as long as the conditions upon and surrounding the property remain unchanged. State law sets the statutory limit for liability for surveyors. Finally, if you are borrowing money to finance the purchase of property, your lender may require a survey to have been made within a certain length of time.