Surveying FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a survey?
Purchasing real estate is one of the most significant financial investments a person makes in their life. Having a survey done by a Registered Land Surveyor prior to purchase is an essential step in gaining peace of mind.

Land surveys can eliminate the costly expense of having to move a building, fence, garage or driveway. While most neighbors may agree where they think the property lines are, boundaries are not always where they appear to be. Agreements may not hold up in court if there is a discrepancy.

Land boundaries, especially those in question, should be located and mapped by a Registered Land Surveyor, and filed as a public record, prior to purchase.

(Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors)
When and why should property be surveyed?
Property should be surveyed when:

  • it is to be sold, purchased or mortgaged
  • improvements, such as buildings or fences are planned
  • location of its boundaries are uncertain or in dispute
  • it will be divided into parcels for sale or development
  • government regulations require a survey and map of your property
  • trespass or encroachment is evidenced or suspected

(Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors)
What is the cost of a survey?
The cost of a survey is affected by several factors that are involved in the development of a boundary survey. Among the factors affecting the cost of a survey are:

  • Type of legal description
  • Location of the property
  • Use of the property
  • Size of the property
  • Lay of the land
  • Use of the survey
  • Survey history of the area

All property surveys also require land records research in addition to fieldwork. Complexity of the research depends on the relationship with surrounding properties.

(Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors)
I don't want a survey. All I want is to have my corners located. Can't you do it with a metal detector?
In Wisconsin, the standards for a property survey are defined in Chapter A-E 7 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code. While someone might be able to find some pipe monuments with a metal detector, those monuments need to be verified by precise measurements and analysis by a Licensed Professional Land Surveyor to insure that they are correct. A-E 7 requires proper research, measurements, analysis, staking, and preparation of a map for all boundary surveys. The map is certified by the surveyor, creates a record that the survey was done properly, and is something that can be relied on for planning or construction in the future.

(Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors)
Can the County survey my property?
The County Surveyor performs the duties assigned and executes surveys required by the county and does not work as a private land surveyor.

Private Land Surveyor
To contact a private Land Surveyor consult your phone book yellow pages under Surveyor.  Or, Polk County has compiled a list of private land surveyors for public reference.

The list is for reference purposes only, and is neither an endorsement nor a recommendation of any firm or individual. Any private surveyor who would like to be added to the Surveyor List may contact the Division of Surveyor.
What laws must a private land surveyor follow?
Private land surveyors must follow the minimum standards for property surveys as written under the WI Administrative Code Chapter A-E 7.
What is the Public Land Survey System?
Read from the following resources.
Department of Land Information
Polk County Government Center

100 Polk County Plaza, Suite 130
Balsam Lake, WI 54810

Office Hours
M-F, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

County Surveyor
Ed Flanum
(715) 485-9260

Land Information Technician
Tracy Klatt
(715) 485-9203