Reasons Why the Public Should Not Attempt to Survey Their Own Land

The Ethical & Practical Reasons for Not Surveying Your Own Property

Of course, this is a community of Land Surveyors so the following will not be foreign to you, if you are a member.  If you are a member my guess is the public's lack of understanding of the importance of a land surveyor is most likely among your greatest frustrations.  This post isn't really for our members as much as it is for the public- those looking to "Survey my own land."  This post can be shared outside of the surveying community as a plea to understand that it is never a good idea to attempt to survey one's own land.  If you are a member, add your comments below and share this so that we might be able to collectively educate those outside of our circle.  This post is mostly geared toward educating the general public when they organically stumble upon it in search engines or as it passes by in thier facebook or twitter posts.  This post is aimed at the folks who see us working and think we are really safe photographers. We can all play a part in the passive education experiment while educating one another.

Say cheese!

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Dear Public,

There are Ethical Reasons for Not Even Trying


Ask yourself, Am I a professional measurer?  Next ask yourself Where? When? and For how long?  Things change rapidly in surveying so if your answer to any of those three questions is even a little fuzzy, hire a land surveyor.  I don't plan to go too deep with this but it is important that I mention that from an ethical perspective, surveying one's own land can lead to a big bag of problems. Firstly, land surveying requires a high level of expertise, years of training and knowledge of surveying standards, mastering techniques and knowing local regulations. Land Surveyors never stop learning, even after 40 years in the field.  If someone with even limited experience tries to survey their own land, they are likely to make mistakes that could have serious consequences.

Consider, for example, a poorly conducted land survey could result in incorrect property boundaries, inevitably leading to disputes with neighbors. This could result in costly legal battles and even the loss of property. Furthermore, inaccurate surveys can also cause problems when it comes to selling or developing the land, as any errors will become evident during the buying or building process.  You'll eventually get caught.

Moreover, there is also the issue of impartiality. When conducting a survey of land, it is important for the surveyor to be objective and impartial in order to provide accurate and reliable results. If the person conducting the survey has a vested interest in the outcome, this impartiality is compromised and the results of the survey may not be trustworthy.  This trustworthiness is so important that many land surveyors do not even trust one another until proven otherwise.  Don't be offended if it seems like your local land surveyor doesn't trust you.  It's kinda their job not to.

Ultimately, it is also worth noting that in many jurisdictions, it is quite often illegal for someone without a license to practice land surveying. This means that if someone is caught conducting their own survey, they could face serious legal consequences, fines and or jail time.

My advice is to leave the survey to the professionals.  With 100% sincerity I suggest that it is always best to leave the task of surveying one's land to a professional and licensed land surveyor. This is the absolute only route which ensures that the land survey is conducted accurately, objectively, and legally.  The risk associated with trying to measure your own property in any official capacity is not worth it.  Be practical.

surveyors measure up

Practical Reasons to Put Your Phone Away


There are a few places around the interweb that will try to sell you GPS software capable of surveying your own land.  Just go out there and find your corners with your phone and call it good, right?  Go ahead and put that pool in.  When the neighbor calls a surveyor to see if your pool is in his yard, you'll remember this article.  From a practical perspective, surveying your own land is not recommended for many reasons:

Lack of expertise: Surveying is a complex and technical field that requires specialized training and experience. If someone without this expertise tries to survey their own land, they are likely to make mistakes that could have serious consequences.

Inaccuracy: An inaccurate survey can lead to incorrect property boundaries, leading to disputes with neighbors. This could result in costly legal battles and even the loss of property. Furthermore, inaccurate surveys can also cause problems when it comes to selling or developing the land.

Impartiality: A surveyor needs to be impartial in order to provide accurate results. If someone has a personal stake in the outcome of the survey, their impartiality is compromised and the results may not be trustworthy.

Legal issues: In many jurisdictions, it is illegal for someone without a license to practice land surveying. If someone is caught conducting their own survey, they could face legal consequences.

In practical terms, hiring a licensed and experienced land surveyor ensures that the survey is conducted accurately, objectively, and legally. Following my advice will help you avoid costly disputes and legal issues, and ultimately, it will ensure the results of the land survey are reliable and trustworthy.

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Justin Farrow - Creator of Land Surveyors United

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