What is Land Surveying?

In simple terms, land surveying is the science of big measurements. The purpose of these measurements can be:

  • Determining the legal boundaries between different parcels of property, via maps, descriptions, and documentation.
  • Determining the location of existing infrastructure, e.g., buildings, roads, trails, utility lines, easements, means of access, and zoning classifications.
  • Determining the topography of land.

When does a land survey happen?

Land surveys take place in the beginning (planning and estimation) stages of any civil engineering project.

A land survey protects your investment. The best practice is to complete one before devoting any time or money to development, as a land survey could prevent costly complications.

Why conduct a land survey?

Land surveys happen for the construction of buildings, roads, bridges, and utilities.  They are often necessary for insurance purposes and/or real-estate financing.

Who is a land surveyor?

A professional land surveyor is registered with the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA). Registration requires years of education and experience. The surveyor must also complete a series of licensing exams.

In addition to the general purposes of land surveying listed above, a licensed surveyor can assist with tasks like:

  • Reviewing deeds to provide a professional opinion about locations and boundary conflicts.
  • Setting monuments at property corners and mark them for easy identification.
  • Keeping accurate records of construction services and measurements.
  • Identifying and consulting on defects in land descriptions or conflicts of ownership/use.
  • Creating property descriptions for new parcels. 
  • Consulting on the layout of lots, blocks, streets, and easements.

Do You Need a Land Survey?

A few instances you might consider a land survey:

    • Before you purchase. The survey will clarify the relationship between lines of possession and deeded property lines.
    • If your lending institution requires a Land Survey Plat or Improvement Location Certificate. They might ask for one or the other if you decide to borrow money for your property.
  • If you think there’s a conflict of use on the property.
  • Before dividing any parcel of land for sale.
    • If you want to construct a structure or make an improvement to a property. This depends on the requirements of the county or city your property is located in.
  • When you want to sell a tract of land

A land survey might be recommended or required by a lawyer, architect, real estate agent, municipal planning office, or engineering office. 

How Should You Approach a Land Survey?

Make sure to explain clearly what you want. The land surveyor will advise what standards and type of survey is/are required.

Share as much information about the property as possible. For instance: descriptions of the property, abstracts of title, title reports, other survey reports, maps, and locations of corner monuments. 

Other Land Survey Terminology

Boundary: A border that marks the separation between two adjacent properties. There are two types of boundaries. An example of a natural boundary is a river. Artificial boundaries can be deeds, warranties, subdivisions, quit claim deeds, or related to the Public Land Survey System. A boundary survey (e.g., K-1 and K-2 surveys requested by real-estate purchase contracts) locates and confirms the placement of property monuments in relation to the boundary line.

Deed: A document that transfers land between seller (“grantor”) and buyer (“grantee”), including a legal description of the property. Many descriptions are writing in a metes and bounds format.

Title Report: A private-insurance document, including legal description and record owner, which informs about mortgages, liens, easements, and other property encumbrances that are listed as “exceptions” and excluded from title-insurance coverage. The title report is sometimes required before the survey begins.

The CM&E Advantage

CM&E provides all the benefits from decades of experience to cutting-edge measurement and drafting tools. Our land surveyors have expertise in trigonometry, geometry, regression, physics, engineering, metrology, coding, and the law. The terrains of Hawaii can be fragile, and the work demanding, but our team always find our job rewarding. We operate on the values of timeliness, honesty, and dedication. We always arrive at the site fully equipped and ready to go.

CM&E is staffed with civil engineers, land surveyors, construction managers, and inspectors with over a hundred years of combined experience. Even with this experience, we occasionally encounter issues outside of our expertise. We can help clients connect with architects, planners, specialized engineers, permit expediters, and contractors as necessary to make a project successful. We have strong working relationships with these outside resources, which span decades. And as all relationships start somewhere, we always look forward to meeting and working with a new team if a client already has a team in place which needs civil engineering or land surveying support.

Explore the different CM&E Land Surveying Services below

CM&E also offers Master Planning & Design Services.