County Surveyor Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions for Surveyor
I want to put up a new fence. How can I be sure to put it on the property line? What do I look for at the corners?
The only way to be sure that the fence is on the property line is to have a licensed Land Surveyor establish the property line. There are pipes and pins in the ground which have no bearing on lot lines. A Surveyor's job is to arrive at a solution after investigating all of the evidence (maps, deeds, improvements, monuments, etc.). If you attempt to establish the line based on found pipes you risk having to tear down the fence if your neighbor has a licensed surveyor establish the line correctly at a later date. Sonoma County staff cannot tell you how to definitely establish your property lines or where your property line is.
Each page of the Assessor's Parcel map has a disclosure clause which states that the map is for assessment purposes only and there may be errors in the dimensions. While these maps may be a good guide, it would be unwise to attempt to establish your lot lines from them. The only way to be sure of the size and location of your lot is to have it surveyed by a licensed Land Surveyor.
The County does not survey private property. You must hire a licensed Land Surveyor who can prepare a Record of survey for you. Land Surveyors can be located in the telephone book's yellow pages under the heading "Surveyors - Land". We cannot make recommendations about which surveyor you should hire.
A Record of Survey is a map showing property corners or other boundaries which have been established or re-established by a Land Surveyor. The surveyor is not required to set monuments at each corner but is required to 'tag' or put his identification on each pipe he or she sets in the ground.
A Record of Survey is not the last word in the location of a property line. It is the heavily researched opinion of the surveyor doing the work. Your neighbor may disagree with the surveyed line, but they would have to hire a surveyor of their own to disprove your survey. Although this rarely happens, another surveyor may have a different opinion on the location of the line and if agreement cannot be reached the courts make the final decision.
Several factors are considered in the cost of a survey:
- The size and topography of the subject parcel - a small grassy parcel will cost less than one which is large and heavily wooded.
- A parcel which has been previously surveyed will cost less than one which is rural and has few surveyed parcels surrounding it.
- Boundary conflicts will raise the cost.
The Land Surveyor you hire will discuss cost with you based on these factors.
My neighbor's fence is several feet onto my property…. My neighbor is cutting down my trees….. My neighbor is parking on my easement…… What can I do?
These legal questions involve individual property rights and cannot be answered by anyone in our department, but we have some suggestions. First, speak with your neighbor to be sure there is an understanding of the location of the property lines or the allowable uses of the easement. If an agreement cannot
My property shares a private road with several other homes and I disagree with other owners about the maintenance of the road. What can I do?
Section 845 of the Civil Code covers maintenance of a private road. The County cannot involve itself in private land disputes. You should seek advice from an Attorney who specializes in land use issues. Please see the Attorney Guide located in the telephone book's yellow pages under the heading "Attorney's - Attorney Guide - Real Estate Law".
Your title report will list easements and a private Land Surveyor can locate them on the ground. You should have received a title report when you purchased the property. If you don't have a title report, you can contact a title company to have one prepared for you. You will find a listing in the telephone book's yellow pages under the heading "Title Companies".
There are new survey markers in the street and on my property, but I didn't give anyone permission to come onto my land. What's going on and who's doing the work?
Surveyors don't inform us of their upcoming projects, so we won't have that information until a map is submitted to our office.
One of your neighbors may have hired a surveyor to establish their corners. This process involves finding as many existing monuments as possible on nearby properties. A licensed Land Surveyor has the right to enter private property to perform a survey. Although a surveyor should give notice 'where practicable', there is no legal requirement that they do this.
To find out who is performing the survey you can;
- Ask one of the field personnel.
- Ask your neighbors.
- Find one of the new corner monuments. There should be a yellow plug in any new pipes set with a "RCE" or "LS" number listed. If you call the County Surveyor with this number we will identify the Surveyor for you.
Once the map has been submitted to the County Surveyor's Office for checking, we become the clearing house for any conditions that may be set on your map. You can call (707) 565-1900 during regular phone hours and ask to speak with Survey staff to get the latest status on your project.
Although many roads are publicly maintained, some seemingly private roads are actually public rights of way. To determine the public/private status takes some research and cannot be addressed over the phone. You will need to come into the office for this information.