frequently asked questions

General Information Regarding Land Surveys

What is a Land Property Survey?

A land survey is made in order to establish new boundary lines or to re-located the boundary lines of an old existing parcel of land according to an existing legal description.

Types of Surveys You May Need:

  • Urban or rural property survey
  • Location survey for mortgage purposes
  • Subdivision survey, when dividing a parcel of land into two or more parcels, as required by stature
  • Topographic survey, to determine the physical features of the land and man made improvements thereon
  • Construction layout survey for buildings and public utilities
  • Right-of-way surveys for highways and public utilities
  • Land title survey, when there is a question brought up by your Title Co. regarding boundaries or encroachments

How much will a land survey cost?

Fees of surveyors are on a level with other professions. The final cost is dependent upon the kind of survey required and the difficulties encountered, which normally cannot be determined in advance. Therefore the surveyor will estimate the approximate cost only.

When should you have land surveyed?

  • You should always have an up-to-date survey made whenever buying or selling any parcel of land, to be sure the deed properly describes and conveys all of the land you are buying or selling.
  • When there is a question pertaining to possible encroachments on the property.
  • When you are uncertain of the amount of land for which you are being assessed.
  • When there is a question brought up by your Title Co. regarding your boundaries or possible encroachments.

How can you secure the services of a licensed land surveyor? 

All land surveys made in the State of Iowa are required, by law, to be made by a surveyor licensed in the State of Iowa.

For the names and addresses of practicing licensed surveyors in your area, consult the yellow pages of your telephone directory.

When securing the services of a land surveyor, you need not visit his place of business. You may transmit your order by telephone or by letter. Many surveyors many require written authorization to proceed with your survey. You should furnish him with a correct legal description of the property to be surveyed, and an explanation of the specific purpose of the survey.

What should you expect of a land surveyor?

Your surveyor will actually survey your property according to the legal description furnished him, recovering or setting monuments at all property corners. He will permanently record the process of his survey in his office files. He will draw a plat of survey showing all property lines, bearings or angles, measurements of all property lines, fences in relation to property lines, all encroachments if any, and measurements to section or quarter section corners or subdivision monuments. He will, if instructed, show improvements, and calculate the area. Your surveyor will furnish you with as many copies of his plat as may be required at the time of the survey, all bearing his certificate and seal.

A land survey, made by an Iowa Licensed Land Surveyor, is admissible, as evidence in a court of law. Your surveyor is available as an expert witness, on behalf of his survey, if his testimony is desired by the court.

The fact that you have your property surveyed does not guarantee your title or boundaries. The surveyor can only survey your land according to your deed and the requirements of statues. If other deeds or senior grants leave overlaps or gaps he cannot by "Judge or Jury" but can only follow the calls of the deed.

How can I find out about a Surveyors’ Professional Qualifications? 

NSPS recommends that you always request confirmation of licensing credentials when hiring a Professional Surveyor. Only those licensed in the state in which services are to be performed are allowed to legally provide the services defined in the licensing laws found in that state’s Statutes and Regulations. It is important to know that there are variations from state to state in the terminology used to describe a Professional Surveyor.

Some examples (not necessarily all-inclusive) of the different titles include: Licensed Surveyor; Licensed Land Surveyor; Professional Surveyor; Professional Land Surveyor; Registered Land Surveyor; Registered Professional Surveyor; Registered Professional Land Surveyor.

Each state has a licensing Board which critiques the qualifications and experience of those seeking licensure prior to those individuals being allowed to take the required examination(s) required for licensure. Those who have passed the Fundamentals exam are typically known as Surveyor Interns, or Surveyors-in-Training. These individuals are not allowed to provide the services of a Professional Surveyor. Only those who have successfully completed the Fundamentals exam, served the internship required by the state in which the license is to be issued, and successfully completed that state’s Principles and Practice exam are designated as Professional Surveyors. Typically, those who are licensed in one state, and seeking to be licensed in another state will be required to take only the state-specific exam for that state.

Historically, individuals have been allowed to become licensed as a Professional Surveyor in any given state through some combination of education, experience as a surveying intern, and examinations. Due in part to the advancements in the technology and instrumentation utilized by surveyors, throughout the past few decades the educational requirement to begin the internship stage of the licensing process has increased, with many states now requiring a minimum of a four-year BS degree in a curriculum approved for licensure, while other states have implemented two-year degree requirements. In any case, though, one is required to serve in an internship position, typically four (4) years, between passing the fundamentals exam, and sitting for the Principles and Practice exam.

In consideration of the ever-increasing advancements in technology, most state licensing boards now require those who are licensed Professional Surveyors in that state to complete some specified number of credit hours in relevant subjects during the period between license renewals.

To find information about the qualifications required by the respective states for designation as a Professional Surveyor, visit the website,, and choose the website of the licensing board for the state about which you are seeking information.



Iowa Engineering and Land Surveying Examining Board

Website for Engineers & Land Surveyors
Contact: Robert (Bob) E. Lampe
Email: [email protected]

Phone: (515) 725-9021
Fax: (515) 725-9032
Office Address: 200 E. Grand, Ste. 350
Des Moines, IA 50309

Members: Robert Fairfax
Eric Green, P.L.S.
Rita Perea
Jerry F. Shellberg, P.E., L.S.
Laura Sievers, P.E.
Lisa VanDenBerg, P.E.
Marlon Vogt, P.E.

About the Iowa Board

Licensure Requirements

Disciplinary Index