Surveying Facts

You may require the services of a land surveyor only once or twice in your lifetime. The need usually arises when you buy a home, lot or a tract of land. This purchase usually represents the largest single investment made by an American during their lifetime.

When is a Survey Required ?

Before a title to land is conveyed, it is wise to have an up to date land survey of boundaries and acreage in order to prepare an accurate legal description of the property. It is important to make sure that land usage conforms to legal description (i.e., no encroachment, projections, etc.)

Before land is subdivided, a survey must be performed in order to meet city, county and State subdivision regulations

Before undertaking improvements (i.e., buildings, fences, etc.), it is wise to know the exact location of property boundaries as well as any easements or right of ways that may affect the subject property. This will aid in avoiding encroachments which could lead to law suits.

Before an heirs land is partitioned by a will, it is wise to have a plat prepared and recorded to assure that your intent is carried out. With the rate of current inflation, the earlier this type of survey is done, the less it will cost.

Cost of a Survey

The cost of the survey will be based on a number of factors. Those may include time to search the court records for evidence to establish the original boundaries, conduct the field survey, make necessary computations, prepare a plat survey (drafting), mark the property lines if ordered, and placement of appropriate markers as required by the Code of Laws.

Factors that tend to affect the cost of a survey are: missing property corners, disputed property lines, rough terrain, heavy underbrush, old inaccurate descriptions, travel time to the property, and professional liability of the surveyor’s opinion.

Based on the above and communication with the client an estimated cost can be provided.

Types of Surveys

It is very important that the purpose of the survey is communicated to the Professional Surveyor. He can usually recommend the type of survey required and the amount of detail that will need to be shown on the plan or plat. The following list does not include all types of surveys, but briefly defines the most common surveys.

Boundary Survey:

A boundary survey of a tract of land with appropriate markers set, as required by State law, if missing, to perpetuate the lines and corners of subject property.

Closing or Loan Survey:

A property survey of a lot or parcel of land with corners located or set, showing location of structures, easements or rights-of-way, and encroachments or projections (if found). This type of survey is highly recommended before the closing.

Topographical Survey:
A survey locating all topographical features, natural and man made, such as buildings, roads, fences, creeks, rivers, marshes, elevations, contours of the property, etc.

Site Planning Survey:

This survey uses a boundary and topographic survey as a base to design future improvements. It can be used for a design of a house, a residential subdivision, a store, a shopping center, a new street or highway, a playground or other improvements.


This survey is a very detailed survey usually of commercial property and often required by lending institutions. The request for this survey must be in writing and be accompanied by all deeds, plats and easements affecting the subject property, as well as all adjoining properties. A list of items to be located as noted in Table A in the ALTA/NSPS publication.

The surveyor can re-survey your land only according to the deed and other information available to him. He cannot guarantee the legal title to the land. However, the accuracy by which he accomplishes his service is backed by his professional integrity.

The surveyor renders a highly technical and complex service. He is a member of a professional team comprised of Surveyor, Title Attorney, Engineer and/or Architect, all of whom must rely heavily on the surveyor’s integrity and the accuracy of his work.

The surveyor, and no one else, assumes responsibility for the correctness and accuracy of the surveyor’s work.

In case of litigation, the surveyor will appear in court as an expert witness and his testimony is accepted by the court as professional evidence.

Advice to the Public On Land Surveying Matters

State requirements for a registered, professional land surveyor prescribing that any person in either a public or private capacity practicing or offering to practice Land Surveying be required to meet minimum standards of education, experience and examinations, and to be registered with the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.

The Board investigates illegal and unlicensed surveying activities and has noted that such surveys frequently are of poor quality and can lead to civil court action and boundary disputes.

The following are recommendations provided for the guidance and protection of the public, in dealing with surveying of your land, which is becoming more precious each day:

(1) If any doubt exists, contact the Board to insure that the individual contracted to survey your land is licensed as a Professional Land Surveyor in South Carolina

(2) Make sure that a survey map or plat delivered to you bears the raised embossed Seal of a Professional Land Surveyor. The law requires each Professional Land Surveyor to stamp his plats with his Seal when filed with public authorities, such as a Register of Deeds. The Seal must bear the words “Professional Land Surveyor,” the state inscription and the name and certificate (license) number of the Professional Land Surveyor responsible for the conduct of the survey.

(3) Beware of persons offering to survey your land on the basis of an alleged “arrangement” with a Professional Land Surveyor, who purportedly will check and place his Seal on the work of the unlicensed person. The Law allows for employees or subordinates of Professional Land Surveyors to work for a Professional Land Surveyor, but only under direct supervision, checking and responsibility, of the Professional Land Surveyor. Please inquire of the state Board if you have any doubt as to the legitimacy of any such offer.

(4) Exercise caution in contracting for a “bargain survey.” You may receive an illegal and worthless survey map, not suitable for filing with Register of Deeds, or for adequate deed preparation.

(5) When seeking the services of a Land Surveyor, the public is well-advised to deal directly with the Professional Land Surveyor and to make payments for services rendered only to the Professional Land Surveyor or his firm.

Current registrations may be verified by contacting the Board at the following address:

S.C Dept. of Labor, Licensing & Regulation
Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors

Synergy Business Park, Kingstree Building
PO Box 11597
Columbia, South Carolina 29211-1597
Phone: (803)896-4422
Fax: (803)896-4427