[Solved] Retracement Survey consensus among professionals
The situation on my property is several (6) surveyors all come up with different boundaries for my property. We are talking about discrepancies of 3-20’ in a small subdivision with half acre lots. We have three original monuments that separate multiple parcels and a newer boundary agreement monument set 22 years ago. I have two parcels that used to be two different neighborhoods with two plats but is now annexed. The subdivision was created in 1950.
Surveyor number 1 shows up and does a retracement survey and restored one lost monument per the descriptions in all deeds.
surveyor number 2 shows up within hours representing the adjoining tract and disputes his mark before doing field work himself. He supplants Number 1 and gets him to dig up his iron and not complete work for us, no charge. Survey number 2 is related to the adjoining owner, then conducts his field work and sets an iron 9’ away from number one even though he said number one was off by 3’. He also sets a stake over 3’ away from the original monument that is described the boundary between four parcels.
surveyor number 3 conducts field work, holds the original monument but agrees with the newly set iron 9’ feet away. We show him the evidence and he then refunds us our money.
surveyor number four does field work, says the new one is wrong, talks to his friend/colleague number 2 and decides not to complete work for us no charge.
surveyor number 5 does field work and tries to explain how the original monument that is documented is not our corner and that number 2 is right. After showing him the evidence, he says he would need to do more field work, then backs out no charge.
Surveyor number 6 does field work and holds one monument in another lot with the control points. It shows the the original documented boundary being around 7’ away from were it “should” be and doesn’t agree with the deeds that describe it as the corner of four parcels.
so we have a situation where surveyors will not retrace our boundary monuments which coincides with all adjoining deeds and restore the lost monument.
we built a fence set back three feet from what the deed says and are being sued by the adjoiner for land that their family/surveyor put in.
my question would be, what are the land principles about holding monuments that have been in place and observed for over 70 years?
at what point can you change the parallel bearings for each lot?
is it proper to prorate distance and disregard parallel lots and original monuments?
I don't mean to rain on your parade, but if 6 Surveyors can't figure it out you might be in for some large expenditures to rectify things. As a previous small business owner for 32 years, and with the knowledge you provided about the property in question, I wouldn't touch the job. A large firm would likely perform it (not knowing it will most likely end up in court) for a breathtaking fee. Your best bet at this juncture might be to try and work out a boundary agreement between yourselves (even if you hate each other), it would be the most economical route for all parties involved. Best of luck.
. So to base a survey completely on the old plat you would have to ignore all the monuments on the ground and change established lots.
So.....if you were starting with a blank slate. Like say this thing was platted and monumented in 1950 but no one ever built anything until today.... the original lot corner monuments would hold. If they couldn't be found then you would go back to the out bounds and recalc the whole thing and reset. Everyone would be ok with that, in that situation. But that's not what you have.
As it is you and your neighbors, not knowing where their common lines are, have employed various means to place them, and come to and agreement, over the years. These are "practical locations". Practical Location is a form of unwritten agreement which is enforceable. Once a line is set by practical location it is the line forevermore (unless changed by written agreement or adverse possession). Some of these agreements were based on the work of surveyors. Some, perhaps all, of those surveys have been of dubious quality. The fact that the surveyor set monuments is not necessarily definitive, that fact that the adjoiners agreed to accept the results of the surveys is.
These unwritten agreements are enforcable from the moment they are made. The problem lies in proving years later that there was such an agreement. As long as the agree-ers continue to agree there is no problem. If they get to squabbling one party or another may "forget" about the agreement. Or the property changes hands and the original agree-ers move on, or pass on. For that reason evidence of the agreement, such as a fence line, that has stood for a long time, is taken to be proof that their was an agreement. This in known in law as recognition and acquiesence.
So, in summary - it doesn't always matter if a survey was one right or not. It matter most that the adjoiners accept the results and act in reliance upon it.
The Lawyer teaching a boundary dispute seminar I was in years ago said don't hire lawyers, don't hire Surveyors, he said get a good bottle of wine and go next door and make friends with your neighbors. He said once the lawyers get involved they say don't talk to each other except through the lawyers and it all goes downhill from there.
It sounds like the subdivision is very poorly done and there may be no clear or easy answer. Just holding one point and running out the record geometry is not proper boundary Surveying practice. I get what your saying about Surveyors trying to "fix" the entire neighborhood, they are trying to establish some sort of rational pattern (which may not exist).
There is a series of blocks in an addition to a small town near here with a problem that could possibly be like your situation. The plat was drawn in 1868 with outside dimensions of precisely 1320 feet by 2640 feet. That is a common fraction of a square mile. Surveyors know that such fractions virtually never match the standard numbers, as were used here.
The blocks were laid out when needed, not all at one time in 1868. Then, later, surveyors attempted to establish where specific lots should be within those blocks. For a given block the first survey might have been for a lot of the east end. The second survey might have been for one on the west end. No one measured the entire addition, then measured the entire block, then set the lot corners. Nope. That was not the normal situation as this was all slow work compared to our capabilities today. Thus, the blocks in my example have been found to be from eight to 18 feet short in an east-west dimension. This was not discovered until too many lots had been surveyed using differing methods by different surveyors in different decades. The land owners had assumed each surveyor had done perfect work and developed their tracts accordingly. Eventually the shortage was discovered. Somebody somewhere was coming up with less land than they should have because they were being expected to absorb the entire shortage for their block on their lot because they were the last to learn of the shortage.
Bad stuff happens.
Bearings are not absolute. They are relative.
Many/nearly all/most landowners are devoid of this fact. Comparing bearings, between surveys, is a useless exercise, unless you determine that they have the same datum underneath them. This is one of the hardest concepts for the general public to get a proper grip on.
It's like laying puzzle pieces out, that are not on the same rotation. They won't fit together. And, proper understanding of the differences cannot be comprehended, until they are on the same rotational datum.
You really should hire a "town father" grade of surveyor. One who wants all the info, and will properly assemble all the data, for you.
Another problem is you will sometimes find a bearing to simply be a concept.... It's not a mechanical reality. Like the 2"x4" lumber fiasco. Lowes got sued for selling 2"x4" lumber that was 1-1/2" x 3-1/2" nominal size. Well, that difference is a constant. So, I think it was a frivolous lawsuit, done by nut jobs, devoid of common sense. (1/2") but, in surveying it is neither constant, nor quantifiable. Until a real surveyor thoroughly works it over. Then, after doing this he may be able to quantify it... But never release that part of his information... (Because it's really not relevant). But, he will release a plat, based on some objective basis of Bearings. It might be an assumed datum, or a magnetic one, or State Plane Bearings. Or "true north", which is ok, for a small area, but all "true north" bearings are fundamentally converging lines, of Longitude. Here is a link to a pic, showing those n-s lines: Geographic coordinate system https://g.co/kgs/85dq8s
It's baffling to me why surveyors still generate surveys with random Willy nilly underlying bearings, without a reference to how to assemble them onto a common datum, but this is the reality. This subject would require a whole book, to properly supply the logic, method, and device. Or, since most surveyors are capable, we should just do it. But, I'd go so far as to suggest that you hire a surveyor, who is fluent in these realities, not just snow jobbing. Part of the reason for "snow jobbing" is it usually adds little to the immediate needs of the client, so don't bother. I think this case would benefit from a full, proper documentation of this issue. I was doing sun shots in 1986, and dealing with it. Today's modern gps is extremely capable of this. In fact, it is an integral part of the software, even when the user is blissfully ignorant.
Welcome to Chaos-Ville!
I have a few questions. Are you hiring these surveyors? How much money are you out on surveyors? I feel like you could benefit from some "professional" surveying. Have you received any signed plats?
A shortage of $ can lead to the conditions you describe.
And, what city, State, and subdivision is this?
We are willing to help, but this kitchen seems crowded, and like there is a lot going on.
Nate I think it is in North Carolina.
If it's North Carolina there should be shiny coordinates all over the place to save the day. (Joke, joke, joke)
I smell a rat here. This will probably require researching all of the deeds for adjoining tracts since the subdivision was created. There is far too much area in dispute for such small tracts.
The joke I was making about shiny coordinates relates to discussion previously on this board about the platting rules for surveyed tracts in North Carolina today that dictate the surveyor is to report standard coordinates for the tract corners, or something close to that. That is not a common requirement in all 50 states.
@holy-cow North Carolina does have an abundance of NGS marks, some shiny and some not. As you go west into the mountains (hills to you Rocky Mountain folks), they can be sparse, though, and Haywood County borders Tennessee. If you compare, say, Guilford County with Haywood County on the NGS data explorer, you'll see a big difference in the coverage. I thought that was what you were joking about.
Here's a link to an NC Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors presentation that may offer some insight into the other thing. Apparently, it was presented in 2013 and uploaded in 2019, so it may or may not be completely applicable now.
Please pardon the interruption and carry on.
The description you posted refers to boundary line agreement so you need that for sure.
The subdivision could be seriously messed up making it difficult for Surveyors to stake boundaries with confidence.
Appears to be a protracted (not surveyed) subdivision 1950's. May not be sufficient evidence to prove any one location over another. I do this type of work, but not licensed in NC. 5k-10k, plus another 5k or so for court prep and testimony; I imagine you could find someone in NC that provides this type of service. Plus attorneys fees 5k-30k (for each party) depending on appeals or not. No guarantee of outcome. So, you might be better off not finding someone that offers this type of service. Instead, work toward an agreement or concede; depends on value of the area to you.
Developers want quick and cheap division of lands for sale to make the most profit. Many years later these problems crop up. This is why now there are subdivision regulations requiring setting of monuments and ties to coordinate systems (as mentioned by Holy). The fault (if one is looking for that) is with the original developer, not with the current surveyors. It may seem inappropriate that the surveyor is a cousin of your neighbor, but I highly doubt that has anything to do with it. Six or Seven hemming and hawing just illustrates the evidentiary problem in these old paper subdivisions that produced little or no original surveying field work.