What are Survey Stakes?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Survey stakes are markers people use in surveying projects to prepare job sites, mark out property boundaries, and provide information about claims on natural resources like timber and minerals. They can be made from wood, metal, plastic, and other materials and typically come in a range of sizes and colors for different purposes. Sources can include surveying and construction suppliers, and people can also make or order their own for custom applications.

Surveyors may leave markers when surveying property.
Surveyors may leave markers when surveying property.

A survey stake is typically small, with a pointed end to make it easy to drive into the earth. It may be color coded or have a space for people to write information on the stake. Surveyors use stakes when assessing sites to mark out boundaries, record data, and convey information to other people. On a job site, for example, survey stakes indicate where it is necessary to backfill with soil to raise the elevation, or to cut soil away to lower it. Stakes can also provide information about slope and grading for people getting a job site ready for construction.

Survey stakes can provide information about a construction site.
Survey stakes can provide information about a construction site.

While placing surveying stakes, surveyors use tools like levels and measuring tape to precisely place each stake and record information about it on a survey chart. Often this requires a team, as the process can be very time consuming. Members of the team can have different tasks like taking and calling out measurements, placing stakes, and recording data on their charts. People may also take photographs to document the site in case there is any confusion in the future.

It may be necessary to use hand tools to drive stakes in when the ground is hard or rocky. Surveyors can also flag them with brightly colored tape to make sure they are visible. Visibility can be important for preventing injuries as well as making sure people can see all of the stakes in a given site when they are performing tasks. The surveyor may color code the flags to make them correspond with different types of surveying tasks.

Laws surrounding survey stakes vary. In some regions, stakes used in a property survey cannot be removed except with the permission of the property owner. It can also be illegal to interfere with survey stakes when they are part of a natural resources claim, as moving the stakes could create an ownership dispute. When numerous companies rush to the site of a new find, conflicts over survey stakes can arise, and it may be necessary to ask a government agency to intervene.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Can a hub stake be removed after a survey has been completed on an adjoining property?


When can I remove wooden property stakes that were placed there as a result of my neighbor's survey? They are above ground and are visible from our property but not his.


@hamje32 - That depends on the number of acres and possibly some other factors as well. Your best bet would be to call land surveying companies and see if they can give you a ballpark figure.


Can anyone give me a general figure for a property survey cost? I'm thinking of doing a real estate deal and want to get an idea of how much the survey will cost.


I was walking around the neighborhood park the other day when, to my surprise, I saw a whole bunch of survey stakes in a perimeter around the area that had the swing equipment.

I wondered what was going on. Two weeks later I saw a bulldozer in the middle of the park with a bunch of concrete. Within a few more weeks, they had expanded the swing area and added more stuff for the kids to play in.

I guess my neighborhood dues are paying off.

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