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General Questions

When do I need a land surveyor?

If you own land, chances are you will need a land survey done at least once in your life. Instances that may require a surveyor include purchasing a home, qualifying for a loan or property insurance, installing a fence or landscaping, or building an addition or additional structure such as a workshop or barn. Property line disputes are often why one might need to hire a surveyor as well. Click here for a list of common types of surveys that an individual might need.

Who can provide me with an official survey?

Only a licensed professional land surveyor may provide a legal land survey and create or modify boundaries or easements. Professionals must be licensed through the state the property is located in. Surveyors in Oregon are licensed through the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying (OSBEELS). For more information on OSBEELS go to oregon.gov/OSBEELS.

What do I look for when hiring a surveyor?

Always consider qualifications and if a surveyor is licensed to work in the state. To search for an Oregon state license number, click here. As any other profession, references and past projects are a good indicator. Price is not the sole indicator of the quality of work a surveyor may do for you. A land surveyor acts on the behalf of the public and may appear for you in planning commission meetings or in a court of law. Surveyors often communicate with your neighbors on your behalf. Make sure you are comfortable with the surveyor you hire, and that you both have a clear understanding of what you're trying to accomplish. Make sure to clearly define the scope of work by clarifying goals and expectations.

Will a land surveyor tell me where my boundary lines are?

Only a court of law can decide questions of property ownership in Oregon. Your land surveyor locates the boundaries of the property on the ground as described in your deed, marking the property corners with physical monuments if none exist, provides a map, and documents survey results. The map will be recorded with the County Surveyor in which the property is located. If conflicts exist, your land surveyor will advise on property remedies. Boundary disagreements may need to be resolved by a court of law; only the courts can settle ownership disputes.

Will I know if encroachments on the property exist?

An encroachment is when a property owner violates the property rights of their neighbor. This is usually done when someone builds a separate structure or extends an existing structure on to the neighbors property. Possible encroachments are identified as part of the survey. Encroachments may not have to be shown on the map submitted for filing with the county surveyor. A separate map may be necessary.

Will I know if easements exist on my property?

An easement grants another entity the right to cross or use your land for a specific purpose, such as a utility company. A surveyor can determine this if a title report is provided by the owner or ordered during the survey. The owner should make it clear to the land surveyor what additional information should be disclosed by the survey. Researching one boundary is generally the same as surveying the entire parcel. If the property has not been surveyed in a long time our boundary monuments have disappeared, a complete boundary survey is the most cost-effective.

How can there be conflicting boundary and easements lines?

Boundary and easement line disputes, gaps, and overlaps are sometimes a result of faulty legal descriptions that were originally written and recorded by persons lacking proper qualifications. It is critical to have property lines clearly described and surveyed when boundaries or easement lines are created or changed. Under current law, any newly-created, and most adjusted boundary lines, require a survey and processing through governmental agencies. A property survey may reduce potential boundary and easement conflicts or resolve outstanding issues.

Why do I need an Elevation Certificate and how do I get it?

An Elevation Certificate is one way to comply with the National Flood Insurance Program requirements. It is required to properly rate certain structures for flood insurance premiums. Elevation Certificates must be prepared and certified by a Licensed Land Surveyor.

How will I know what has been surveyed?

Your land surveyor will perform the survey in accordance with the mutually agreed upon scope of work. If the scope of work calls for monumentation, property corners will be marked with steel rods or other permanent monuments, and a survey will be filed. The property corners should be shown to the owner. A survey map will be filed whenever property corners are set indicating dimensions of property lines and other relative data as required by state law.

How much does a survey cost?

Like anything else, it depends on the the amount of time and detail needed for the scope of work. Click here for examples of scenarios that may affect the cost.

Does a surveyor have the right to walk on my property without my permission?

A surveyor doesn't just need access to the property he has been contracted to survey. Access to bordering properties are needed as well. In Oregon, surveyors are permitted to enter private land without permission, however they must attempt to contact the Owner or Occupant beforehand. There is no wording in the Right of Entry law specifying how they must contact the Owner or Occupant. Frequently, this notice is in the form of a door hanger, notifying you of the project and contact information. The surveyor is responsible for compensating the Owner for damages caused. Check the Right of Entry on the left side of the page for more information. To read the Right of Entry Statute (672.047) click here.

How do I file an official complaint about a land surveyor?

If you have a disagreement about costs or contracts, you will need to take it up in the Courts. If you have a complaint about a surveyor breaking Oregon State Statutes (ORS 92.040 to 92.080ORS 209.250ORS 537.010 to 537.992ORS 672.002 to 672.325, and OAR Chapter 820) you may file a complaint with the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying (OSBEELS). Click here for more information on the process and to download a complaint form.

When do I need a Land Surveyor and What are the Costs?

There are many variables that make it difficult to determine exact costs in advance. Based on experience, though, your land surveyor should be able to provide a cost estimate. The land surveyor you choose may require a contract for their services that details the work to be done and the compensation required. Below are examples of scenarios that may affect the cost:

Understanding Survey Costs

Type of Survey

The complexity of a survey and the presence of any disputes are significant factors. The development of large industrial sites or rural land could require more hours than a survey of a residential lot; cost is proportional to the time needed to complete a survey but is not necessarily proportional to parcel size. 

Record Search

Research varies by (a) the number of parcels, (b) the number of past transactions, and (c) the quality of legal descriptions, which may require examining property ownership documents (e.g. deed records, road records, and planning reports).

Property Size and Shape

An irregularly-shaped parcel has more property corners to mark than a rectangular parcel containing the same area. The property size, along with features such as water boundaries, has a direct effect on the time required to survey the land. 

Sectionalized Survey Work

Oregon rural property surveys are typically based on work that was performed more than 100 years ago by General Land Office surveyors. Researching old surveys could require considerable effort and extensive fieldwork. 

Terrain and Vegetation

A level parcel of urban land is easier to survey than a mountainous rural parcel. Branches, brush, and small trees must often be cleared near the property boundaries to provide a line of sight. Shrubs, flowers, and trees on home sites are normally not disturbed but may require additional field time to avoid when placing final corners.

Accessibility 

The time needed to perform surveying work varies with the distance to and difficultly in reaching property boundaries. Your land surveyor may need to record survey monuments on a neighbor’s property some distance away from the parcel being surveyed. These distant survey monuments may influence boundary location, affecting costs.

Existing Evidence on Property

Existing evidence left by previous surveyors may assist your land surveyor. These may include iron, wood, or stone monuments (markers), old fences, and other evidence of boundaries erected. Testimony by long-term residents may be required and valuable.

Difficult Neighbors

When neighbors dispute a boundary, access to important boundary evidence may be difficult, thereby affecting time and costs.

Time of Year

In the summer, thicker foliage may result in more field labor. Winter weather may slow travel as well as conceal critical field evidence.

Title Company/Lender Requirements

Landowners should have a good understanding of the costs and documents required prior to beginning a survey. Your land surveyor can assist you in understanding these requirements.

Other FactorsState law requires filing a survey map with the County Surveyor whenever a boundary monument is established. Most counties charge recording fees to maintain these records, which may be costly. Due to the potentially litigious nature of property law, some companies carry professional liability insurance as additional protection for their clients.

When do I need a Land Surveyor?

American Land Title Association Survey (A.L.T.A.)

Provides a property title company and mortgage lender with location date for issuing a property title and mortgage insurance, such as the boundaries, easements, and the location of improvements (structures, fences, utility lines, roads, etc.). 

Boundary

Locates property corners and boundary lines of property.

Floodplain

Determines the elevation of a building or piece of land and whether it is located within a floodplain.

Property Survey (Cadastral)

Determines the legal property boundary, when it has already been described in legal documents.

Construction

Provides measurements for erecting improvements, such as roads, buildings and pipelines.

Land Development (Partition or Lot Split)

When a lot is split into two or more parcels, showing property corners and survey data for legal title and description.


Right of Entry

A surveyor doesn't just need access to the property he has been contracted to survey. Access to bordering properties are needed as well. In Oregon, surveyors are permitted to enter private land if they attempt to contact the owner or occupant beforehand. Check the Right of Entry (672.047) below for more information.

      672.047 Right of entry by land surveyor; compensation for damages caused; notice; removal of survey markers. (1) Subject to subsection (4) of this section, a registered professional land surveyor, or any employee or agent of the land surveyor, may enter on foot, where practicable, upon any land for the purpose of surveying or performing any survey work and may establish permanent survey monuments as allowed by rule of the State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying.

      (2) Any person exercising the right of entry granted under subsection (1) of this section shall do so with no unnecessary damage to the land entered upon. Damages to trees, shrubs and other vegetation intentionally caused by the land surveyor shall be subject to compensation and penalties as provided in ORS 105.810. The land surveyor shall compensate the landowner for all other actual monetary damages, or $100, whichever is greater. Actual monetary damages may include but are not limited to all costs in time, labor and materials incurred by the landowner to return the property to the condition it was in prior to the damage.

      (3) If land that is entered and surveyed under this section is located outside of an urban growth boundary and the landowner makes a timely request in writing, the registered professional land surveyor shall provide a copy of the survey in a timely manner to the landowner.

      (4) A registered professional land surveyor, or any employee or agent of the land surveyor, may not enter upon land for the purpose of surveying, performing other survey work or establishing a permanent survey monument without first providing notice to the landowner by first class mail or by personal notice. If the land is occupied by a person other than the landowner, notice must also be given to the occupant by first class mail or by personal notice. Notice that is given by first class mail must be mailed at least seven days prior to the entry onto the land. Notice that is given by personal notice must be hand-delivered to the landowner or occupant or be posted in a conspicuous place where the landowner or occupant may reasonably be expected to see the notice. The notice shall give the professional land surveyor’s name, address, telephone number, purpose, availability of the survey and the presence of any temporary or permanent monuments or other markers to be left on the land.

      (5) A registered professional land surveyor, or any employee or agent of the land surveyor, who enters land as allowed under this section is owed no greater duty of care than that owed by a landowner to a trespasser.

      (6) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, a registered professional land surveyor, or any employee or agent of the land surveyor, may use a vehicle to enter upon land provided that the vehicle remains on existing roadways where practicable.

      (7) The land surveyor shall remove all flagging, stakes and other temporary materials that are above ground if leaving the materials in place creates an unreasonable risk of harm to persons or property. Except for forestland as defined in ORS 527.620, the land surveyor shall remove all temporary above ground materials within 60 days of placement unless written authorization to leave the materials in place is received from the landowner or occupant. [1995 c.382 §13; 1997 c.743 §1; 2009 c.259 §5; 2011 c.231 §1]

Frequently Asked Questions




When do I need a land surveyor? 

If you own land, chances are you will need a land survey done at least once in your life. Instances that may require a surveyor include purchasing a home, qualifying for a loan or property insurance, installing a fence or landscaping, or building an addition or additional structure such as a workshop or barn. Property line disputes are often why one might need to hire a surveyor as well. Click here for a list of common types of surveys that an individual might need.


Who can provide me with an official survey? 

Only a licensed professional land surveyor may provide a legal land survey and create or modify boundaries or easements. Professionals must be licensed through the state the property is located in. Surveyors in Oregon are licensed through the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying (OSBEELS). For more information on OSBEELS go to oregon.gov/OSBEELS.

 

What do I look for when hiring a surveyor?

Always consider qualifications and if a surveyor is licensed to work in the state. To search for an Oregon state license number, click here. As any other profession, references and past projects are a good indicator. Price is not the sole indicator of the quality of work a surveyor may do for you. A land surveyor acts on the behalf of the public  and may appear for you in planning commission meetings or in a court of law. Surveyors often communicate with your neighbors on your behalf. Make sure you are comfortable with the surveyor you hire, and that you both have a clear understanding of what you're trying to accomplish. Make sure to clearly define the scope of work by clarifying goals and expectations.


Will a land surveyor tell me where my boundary lines are? 

Only a court of law can decide questions of property ownership in Oregon. Your land surveyor locates the boundaries of the property on the ground as described in your deed, marking the property corners with physical monuments if none exist, provides a map, and documents survey results. The map will be recorded with the County Surveyor in which the property is located. If conflicts exist, your land surveyor will advise on property remedies. Boundary disagreements may need to be resolved by a court of law; only the courts can settle ownership disputes.


Will I know if encroachments on the property exist? 

An encroachment is when a property owner violates the property rights of their neighbor. This is usually done when someone builds a separate structure or extends an existing structure on to the neighbors property. Possible encroachments are identified as part of the survey. Encroachments may not have to be shown on the map submitted for filing with the county surveyor. A separate map may be necessary.


Will I know if easements exist on my property? 

An easement grants another entity the right to cross or use your land for a specific purpose, such as a utility company. A surveyor can determine this if a title report is provided by the owner or ordered during the survey. The owner should make it clear to the land surveyor what additional information should be disclosed by the survey. Researching one boundary is generally the same as surveying the entire parcel. If the property has not been surveyed in a long time our boundary monuments have disappeared, a complete boundary survey is the most cost-effective.


How can there be conflicting boundary and easements lines? 

Boundary and easement line disputes, gaps, and overlaps are sometimes a result of faulty legal descriptions that were originally written and recorded by persons lacking proper qualifications. It is critical to have property lines clearly described and surveyed when boundaries or easement lines are created or changed. Under current law, any newly-created, and most adjusted boundary lines, require a survey and processing through governmental agencies. A property survey may reduce potential boundary and easement conflicts or resolve outstanding issues.


Why do I need an Elevation Certificate and how do I get it? 

An Elevation Certificate is one way to comply with the National Flood Insurance Program requirements. It is required to properly rate certain structures for flood insurance premiums. Elevation Certificates must be prepared and certified by a Licensed Land Surveyor.


How will I know what has been surveyed? 

Your land surveyor will perform the survey in accordance with the mutually agreed upon scope of work. If the scope of work calls for monumentation, property corners will be marked with steel rods or other permanent monuments, and a survey will be filed. The property corners should be shown to the owner. A survey map will be filed whenever property corners are set indicating dimensions of property lines and other relative data as required by state law.


How much does a survey cost? 

Like anything else, it depends on the the amount of time and detail needed for the scope of work. Click here for examples of scenarios that may affect the cost.


Does a surveyor have the right to walk on my property without my permission?

A surveyor doesn't just need access to the property he has been contracted to survey. Access to bordering properties are needed as well. In Oregon, surveyors are permitted to enter private land without permission, however they must attempt to contact the Owner or Occupant beforehand. There is no wording in the Right of Entry law specifying how they must contact the Owner or Occupant. Frequently, this notice is in the form of a door hanger, notifying you of the project and contact information. The surveyor is responsible for compensating the Owner for damages caused. Check the Right of Entry on the left side of the page for more information. To read the Right of Entry Statute (672.047) click here.


How do I file an official complaint about a land surveyor?

If you have a disagreement about costs or contracts, you will need to take it up in the Courts. If you have a complaint about a surveyor breaking Oregon State Statutes (ORS 92.040 to 92.080ORS 209.250ORS 537.010 to 537.992ORS 672.002 to 672.325, and OAR Chapter 820) you may file a complaint with the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying (OSBEELS). Click here for more information on the process and to download a complaint form.



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