You Probably Don't Have to Let Snidley
the Surveyor on Your Property


Facts about allowing entry to your property.  Did you Know:

You do not have to allow entry to survey teams or engineering firms unless it is for a road or highway project.  That means if the the work being requested is for a water line, sewer line etc.  you do not have to allow entry. If road work is being proposed they must notify you by certified mail at least 30 days before entry. Borings and soundings for road or highway projects are not allowed within 20 rods or 330 feet of your home.  Refer to the relevant Iowa code section below:

Iowa Code 314.9 Entering private land.

The agency in control of any highway or highway system or the engineer, or any other authorized person employed by said agency, may after thirty days' written notice by restricted certified mail addressed to the owner and also to the occupant, enter upon private land for the purpose of making surveys, soundings, drillings, appraisals and examinations as it deems appropriate or necessary to determine the advisability or practicability of locating and constructing a highway thereon or for the purpose of determining whether gravel or other material exists on said land of suitable quality and in sufficient quantity to warrant the purchase or condemnation of said land or part thereof. Such entry, after notice, shall not be deemed a trespass, and the agency may be aided by injunction to insure peaceful entry. The agency shall pay actual damages caused by such entry, surveys, soundings, drillings, appraisals or examinations.

Any damage caused by such entry, surveys, soundings, drillings, appraisals or examinations shall be determined by agreement or in the manner provided for the award of damages in condemnation of land for highway purposes. No such soundings or drillings shall be done within twenty rods* of the dwelling house or buildings on said land without written consent of owner.

*20 rods is 330 feet (6.5 feet per rod).

According to a land acquisition expert:

Plans need to be made to obtain the right of entry on property to obtain both surface and subsurface information needed to design the project and sufficient survey information to be able to develop a definite legal description of land needed for the project. Acquiring authorities have the power to do this for highway projects. See Section 314.9 Entering Private Property of the Code of Iowa. Acquiring authorities do not have the right to enter on private property for this purpose for non-highway public purposes. See Christenson v. Iowa District Court, 555 NW2d 259 (Iowa 1996).


My mother was recently almost injured when the tractor she was driving nearly tipped over when she ran over a hole created by an unauthorized contractor that was doing an archeological review. A tree was cut down without permission on my property by an unauthorized land surveyor.  Unfortunately these surveyors and engineers often sneak onto your property without permission.  What would the city or state do if you chopped down a tree or dug a hole on their property without authorization?   Just realize you do have a choice and don't let government authorities and paid contractors "bully" you into doing something you don't want to do.