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Job requirements of the land surveyor

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JOB REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAND SURVEYOR

In resurveying property boundaries and in carrying out surveys for the subdivision of land, the EA performing land surveys has the following duties, responsibilities, and liabilities:

1. Locate in the public records all deed descriptions and maps pertaining to the property and properly interpret the requirements contained therein.

2. Set and properly reference new monuments and replace obliterated monuments.

3. Be liable for damages caused by errors resulting from incompetent professional work.

4. Attempt to follow in the tracks of the original surveyor, relocating the old boundaries and not attempting to correct the original survey.

5. Prepare proper descriptions and maps of the property.

6. May be required to connect a property survey with control monuments so that the grid coordinates of the property corners can be computed.

7. Report all easements, encroachments, or discrepancies discovered during the course of the survey.

8. When original monuments cannot be recovered with certainty from the data contained in the deed description, seek additional evidence. Such evidence must be substantial in character and must not be merely personal opinion.

9. In the absence of conclusive evidence as to the location of a boundary, seek agreement between adjoining owners as to a mutually acceptable location. The surveyor has no judicial functions; he may serve as an arbiter in relocating the boundary according to prevailing circumstances and procedures set forth by local authority.

10. When a boundary dispute is carried to the courts, he may be called upon to appear as an expert witness.

11. He must respect the laws of trespass. The right to enter upon property in conducting public surveys is provided by law in most localities. In a few political subdivisions, recent laws make similar provision with respect to private surveys. Generally, the military surveyor should request permission from the owner before entry on private property. When the surveyor lacks permission from an adjoiner, it is usually possible to make the survey without trespassing on the adjoiner’s land, but such a condition normally adds to the difficulty of the task. The surveyor is liable for actual damage to private property resulting from his operations.

A primary responsibility of a land surveyor is to prepare boundary data that may be submitted as evidence in a court of law in the event of a legal dispute over the location of a boundary. The techniques of land surveying do not vary in any essential respect from those used in any other type of horizontal-location surveying—you run a land-survey boundary traverse, for example, just as you do a traverse for any other purpose. The thing that distinguishes land surveying from other types of surveying is that a land surveyor is often required to decide the location of a boundary on the basis of conflicting evidence.

For example, suppose you are required to locate, on the ground, a boundary line that is described in a deed as running, from a described point of beginning marked by a described object, N26°15´E, 216.52 feet. Suppose you locate the point of beginning, run a line therefrom the deed distance in the deed direction, and drive a hub at the end of the line. Then you notice that there is, a short distance away from the hub, a driven metal pipe that shows signs of having been in the ground a long time. Let’s say that the bearing and distance of the pipe from the point of beginning are N26°14´E, 215.62 feet.

You can see that there is conflicting evidence here. By deed evidence the boundary runs N26°15´E, 216.52 feet; but the evidence on the ground seems to indicate that it runs N26°14´E, 215.62 feet. Did the surveyor who drove the pipe drive it in the wrong place, or did he drive the pipe in the right place and then measure the bearing and distance wrong? The land surveyor, on the basis of experience, judgment, and extensive research, must frequently decide questions of this kind. That is to say, he must possess the knowledge, experience, and judgment to select the best evidence when the existing situation is conflicting.

There are no specific rules that can be consistently followed. In the case mentioned, the decision as to the best evidence might be influenced by a number of considerations. The pipe is pretty close to the deed location of the end of the boundary. This might, everything else being equal, be a point in favor of considering the pipe bearing and distance, rather than the deed bearing and distance, to be correct. If the pipe were a considerable distance away, it might even be presumed that it was not originally intended to serve as a boundary marker. Additionally, the land surveyor would consider the fact that, if the previous survey was a comparatively recent one done with modern equipment, it would be unlikely that the measured bearing to the pipe would be off by much more than a minute or the distance to the pipe off by much more than a tenth of a foot. However, if the previous survey was an ancient one, done perhaps with compass and chain, larger discrepancies than these would be probable,

Further considerations would have to be weighed as well. If the deed said, "From [point of beginning] along the line of Smith N26°15’E, 216.52 feet," and you found the remains of an ancient fence on a line bearing N26°15’E, these remains would tend to vouch for the accuracy of the deed bearing regardless of a discrepancy in the actual bearing of the pipe or other marker found.

To sum up, in any case of conflicting evidence, you should (1) find out as much as you can about all the evidential circumstances and conditions, using all feasible means, including questioning of neighboring owners and local inhabitants and examination of deeds and other documents describing adjacent property, and (2) select the best evidence on the basis of all the circumstances and conditions.

As in many other professions, the primary—in this case, the surveyor—may be held liable for incompetent services rendered. For example, if the surveyor has been given, in advance, the nature of the structure to be erected on a lot, he may be held liable for all damages or additional costs incurred as a result of an erroneous survey; and pleading in his defense that the survey is not guaranteed will not stand up in court. Since a civilian professional surveyor must be licensed before he can practice his profession, he must show that degree of prudence, judgment, and skill reasonably expected of a member of his profession.



   


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