By Appointment Only:

350 Townsend Street #839
San Francisco, CA 94107
3065 Richmond Parkway, Suite 101   
Richmond, CA 94806   
PH. (510) 223-5167   
FAX (510) 223-0112   
Bay Area Land Surveying, Inc.

Q: What is a monument?

A: There are a variety of types of monuments, but they mainly fall into two categories:

1.)    Public Monuments: Are set by a Public Surveyor (City or County Surveyor) or a Private Surveyor. They are usually punched discs, nails or bolts set in a metal  casing in the street or sidewalk. These monuments are shown on filed maps or city monument maps and are usually mathematically tied to the Right of Way lines of the street, subdivision lines or property lines.

2.)    Private monuments: Are usually set by private surveyors to indicate property lines and Right of Way lines. These are usually a rebar with a cap, a nail with a tag, an iron pipe with a plug and a tag, or a wood hub with a tack and a tag. A Licensed Surveyor is required to tag every property  point he/she sets with a tag bearing their Land Surveyor's License number. They are also required to file a Record with the County (Corner Record or Record of Survey), so future surveyors will be able to determine what these points represent and how they established these points.

Q: What is survey control?

A: Survey control is the monuments (Public and Private) and records (Public and Private) used by a Surveyor to establish street Right of Way lines, block lines and property lines.


Q: There is a lot of brush on my lot. Do I need to remove it or can your crew do it? Is there an extra fee?

A: It is usually a good idea if you remove the brush from the area you wish to have  surveyed prior to the arrival of a survey crew on the site. A survey crew can cut brush and on occasion will cut brush judiciously to access points on your site, but in general, it is much cheaper for you hire someone who has a much lower hourly rate to cut your brush than pay survey crew rates for brush cutting.


Q: How can I reduce the cost of my survey?

A: The best way to reduce the cost of your survey is to get your neighbors involved. When a surveyor establishes a boundary, they have to figure out the boundaries of the entire block and sometimes multiple blocks in your vicinity. Since the largest part of the cost of a survey is generally figuring out the boundary and filing the required records (Corner Record or Record of Survey) with the County, the more properties in your vicinity you can spread this cost around to, the cheaper your survey will be. We have had cases where a survey that was originally priced at $3000 was spread out among many neighbors and knocked down to $600 for each property.


Q: How do you estimate the cost of a survey? How much will my survey cost?

A: The cost of a survey is dependant upon the Survey Control we find in your area and whether or not we have done previous survey work in the area. We estimate the amount of time that we think it will take us to do the fieldwork and office work based on our hourly rates, then we add the cost of filing the required records with the County. If we have already done work on your block, it can take a lot less time to figure out your boundary and this can save you a substantial amount of money. This is one of the reasons it is a good idea to use a local surveyor who has done a substantial amount of work in your community.


Q: Does my existing fence designate the property line?

A: In general, a fence does not officially designate a property line. Only points set by a Licensed Land Surveyor represent your property line; this doesn't mean that your fence isn't built on the property line. There are many cases where fences are built based upon a surveyor's stakes, but also many instances where a fence is built without the benefit of a survey. If you have some evidence (a copy of an old survey perhaps) that the fence was built right on the property line, then you may be able to make that assumption, but you are just as likely to be wrong.


Q: Why should I get my property surveyed?

A: There are many reasons to have your property surveyed. The main reason is because you are going to build something and you need to know where the boundaries of your property are and possibly also know the physical and topographic features of your property. Other reasons include refinancing (lenders sometimes need to know what they are lending on), arguments with neighbors, adjusting property lines or subdividing your property (either splitting your lot into multiple lots or subdividing into Condominiums).


Q: How can I obtain recorded information?

A: Recorded information can be obtained at the County Surveyor's Office. All filed maps are on file at the County Surveyor's Office. If you know the recording information of the survey that you want you can sometimes order the survey from a third party vendor that has a contract with the county to provide these maps. In Alameda County the vendor is BPS in Oakland. Their phone number is (510) 287-5485. In Contra Costa County, the vendor is Graphic Reproductions. Their phone number is (925) 674-0900. You can also sometimes find information about your site from previous Building Permit Surveys that are on file at the City Engineer's office in some cities.

Q: Can I legally challenge my neighbor's survey?

A: You personally cannot, but you can hire another surveyor who can. If you have doubts that the survey in question is correct, you can hire another surveyor to review that survey and give you his/her opinion. Unfortunately there are some surveyor's who do not do as thorough of a boundary analysis as some surveys warrant and in some cases they just calculate something wrong and set a point in the wrong place. You need to determine whether the fee you would have to pay to check the other survey would be worth it to you. Usually if a surveyor puts a property line in the wrong place and another surveyor brings it to their attention they will revise their survey and correct their mistake. In some cases, however rare, two surveyors cannot agree on the proper placement of a boundary and it has to go to court. In this case, the property owner who has hired the surveyor to challenge the results is going to be responsible for their own court costs, including fees for Expert Witness Testimony by their surveyor, so they should be pretty confidant in a successful case before proceeding. Fortunately most of these cases are resolved by consultation between the two surveyors. In all my years of surveying experience, I have never had a boundary disagreement resolved by a judge.


Q: What is your process for Condominium Conversions?
A: The process for Condominium Conversion varies, depending on which government entity has jurisdiction in the area you are interested in converting your building(s). Different cities and counties have different requirements for the process, if they allow them at all. From the surveyor's perspective, there is always a Tentative Parcel Map (or Tract Map), Final Parcel Map (or Tract Map) and Condominium Plans necessary to create a Condominium Subdivision. You will also need to hire an attorney to prepare the Association Documents to define the Condominiums. We have a lot of experience working with different attorneys and various Bay Area cities to provide the best professional services available to help you with your subdivision.


Q: Do I have to have my survey recorded?

A: If a surveyor sets boundary points in the ground, then yes, you must have the survey recorded. This is a requirement of State Law and is intended to benefit the general public by keeping a record of all the Right of Way lines and property lines that surveyors establish. There are many areas where there have not been surveys filed in many years. This makes it very difficult to establish boundaries if you cannot find any control points or find a record of how other surveyors have perpetuated the boundaries.