We have all seen land surveyors at work at one time or another, on the roadside, at a new construction site, or simply out in the field. But what exactly is land surveying, and how do you find a reputable land surveyor? Read on.

Surveying or land surveying is the technique and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them. These points are usually on the surface of the Earth, and are often used to establish land maps and boundaries for ownership or governmental purposes.

Land surveyors measure properties and pieces of land to determine boundaries. Information about boundaries is necessary for many reasons: it helps determine where roads or buildings will be constructed, settles property line disputes, and leads to the creation of maps. The maps and land descriptions created by a land surveyor are usually considered legally binding, and surveyors are sometimes called on to present their findings in a courtroom setting. Because of the legal and precise nature of the work, surveyors must be licensed by the states in which they work.

The largest investment most people make is their home or land. Each landowner should have a survey completed of their property to insure they are buying and getting what they believe they are. Each landowner should also know where their property boundaries lie in order to protect their property from encroachments and trespassing. Too many times people opt out of the option for a survey and end up with legal and or personal issues.

As with all other professionals you should hire a surveyor based on their qualifications and their track record. You can begin by searching our map of Vermont surveyors to find surveyors who work in your region of the state. Then hire someone you are comfortable talking to and that you want to do business with. Always ask for references and examples of their work. Word of mouth is the best indication that you are choosing the right surveyor.

In Vermont, surveyors must be licensed by the state, so there is a set of specific criteria you would need to meet. Candidates either need to:

  • Earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Land Surveying from a college with a curriculum approved by ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). You must also do an internship, complete a portfolio, and pass the state surveying exam.
  • OR go to work for a land surveyor and gain 6 years of progressive experience, complete a portfolio, and pass the state surveying exam.

To view more specific information, review the requirements set forth by the Vermont Board of Land Surveyors.

There are many factors that come into play during the process of a survey, including the terrain, foliage, old recorded documents, date of last survey, disturbed or missing property corners, size of tract to be surveyed and the scope of services required to name a few. Be upfront with your surveyor and let them know what you expect as a final product and the services you expect to receive during the survey process. Each surveyor will price or quote a job differently but should be able to advise clients in regards to expense.

You can start by checking with the town clerk’s office in which the parcel is located. If the town clerk doesn’t have documentation for a survey, you may need to conduct a title search on the property to see whether a survey has been conducted at any point in its history.

The Vermont Society of Land Surveyors has compiled the Vermont Survey Law manual, which can be a starting point for those interested in legal issues and laws around surveying. As a next step, those interested should consult with either a licensed land surveyor or an attorney.

The first thing you should do is contact the surveyor who did the survey. Many times a misunderstanding can be resolved by addressing your concerns with the surveyor, seeing the evidence the surveyor found, and hearing an explanation of the survey. If you believe the surveyor is acting unethically, you should contact the Vermont Board of Land Surveying, and they will investigate the complaint.

The Vermont Office of Professional Regulation is responsible for investigating complaints of unprofessional conduct and taking disciplinary actions against licensees when necessary to protect the public. Look here for more information and to file a complaint.

More Information

If you have specific questions about being a surveyor in Vermont, please send us a note.

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