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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?  


Forget hiring another surveyor.
I would suggest leasing a the parking area to the neighbor 1 year term renewable every year until they transfer ownership

Hahaha, yes. I would totally do that. The only problem is how they went about it. See the neighbors on the back tract 2 with the boundary agreement made it known early on that they are interested in our property and would purchase for a bit more than market value. We declined of course because we purchased the lot with the same interest. The neighbors that are disputing the line have carefully and methodically used deception to make us believe that what we purchased isn’t ours over 1.5 years. It came to a point where we stopped entertaining or being friendly to their nonsense, which at that point they (we believe) have performed a small town land surveying SHAKE DOWN. Their cousin literally has suspended anyone from completing any honest work for us. I have yet to receive any completed work from a surveyor hired of a boundary retracement per our deeds and original monuments. It’s kind of comical except for the whole litigation side of this. I don’t like being a victim in any circumstance and at this juncture that is the position I am in. I did entertain the idea of letting her park, but you have to be honest, you can’t be a snake in the grass or weasel about it. If they would have come to me from the beginning saying hey, you know, the parking situation for us isn’t great and we would appreciate your help until she gets out of college... I would have been neighborly and obliged. College age girl lacks respect, it was wherever the car stopped, no thought put into her driving, just wherever the car stopped.

36 Answers

Surveyors are required to retrace established boundaries where they exist on the ground. If the record is ambiguous, which is common, and the record does not "fit" existing monuments, then you have a fatally ambiguous record, and you will have to address conflicts with the legal means in your state. The existing boundary line agreement is a red flag. Hire a surveyor to collect all data and prepare a plat that shows gaps, overlaps where they lie. In COLORADO this is "conflicting boundary evidence" required by 38-51-106(k). Pay up front. When you receive the plat, consider either a quit claim deed, boundary line agreement or resubdivision as by far the easiest of your options for boundary resolution. There is no such thing as "winning" in court.



Yes, the existing boundary agreement moved the line a 1.5° over because the carport pad was poured over the line 20 years ago. The surveyor who performed the agreement is now the county commissioner. He also did the adjoining survey of the Lodge that was the owner of all this land back in the 1930s. He found all the monuments and set one. Same for the agreement, just one set. What the agreement shows, is that the monument he found, he describes as the corner between tract 1 and 2 and the corner of the two adjoining lots.

I tried to hire him first, because he is the “best” in town. He immediately brought up my neighbor by name and said my neighbor could tell me where the line is. That was a red flag for me. Later after the cousin supplanted the surveyor we hired, we called him again and he said he didn’t want to get involved. The problem with that, is he would be the best person to solve this “problem” but has shown some red flags as far as conflicts of interest. He is also up for re-election this year.

Have any of you professionals supplanted another surveyor? And if so, did you definitively say how much the other guy is wrong before conducting your own field work? That was the most shocking thing about this situation, we hired someone, whom sets one lost iron per the deeds and then within hours we had a small town shake down run him off. Is that something that is common in the surveying industry?


Thank you all for your responses, and I apologize from coming across as a homeowner that will not listen to advice.

I have taken everything you have all said in and I believe I figured out the issue.

The intent of the instrument in Our Deed is to have parallel lines that are continuous running north and South.

There are three original monuments that are 1” open top pipes on the property. One is located at the power pole on the east side that is the boundary of four parcels per previous surveys and deeds. The other two are located at the grapevine on the west side and is the boundary between three parcels.

The grapevine has two pipes cited in two adjoining surveys, on each side of the property. The pipes are at a bearing of North 00° 10 minutes 16 seconds WEST referenced in Kevin Ensley’s survey of 1998. He uses that as a tie for the eastern adjoining survey where he performed a boundary agreement to correct an encroachment of improved lands on the east side of Our lot.

Surveyor number 2 projects and ties the grapevine monuments north up to the street of Grandview Circle at a bearing of N 00° 10’ 16 seconds WEST for the Howard survey in 2012 which is an adjoining property on my west side. Owens reports this bearing as North 1° East per deed descriptions. The grapevine stakes actual bearing are N 00° 10’ 16” west as opposed the the deed call for N 1° East.

In an attempt to retrace the Our property while holding the original monuments and distances we are able to perform a boundary survey using the actual bearing of the grapevine monuments of North 00° 10’ 16” West for the entire west line as it is currently monumented up to the street and use that same bearing for the North East common boundary with the Eastern adjoining property.

Our fence is within those bounds and we ask that an iron be restored at Our North East corner to uphold and maintain the original controlling monuments and deed calls of all properties involved. We ask that surveyor number 2 map of the eastern adjoiner property be revised to reflect the original controlling pins and the intent of the deed calls of all parties involved and remove the encroaching pins.

If you hold the actual angle between the grapevine pins to traverse the deed calls on Our property it successfully retraces the bounds of the instrument and gives everyone their respective distances.


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.


This parade has been rained on for 8 months. Yes, we have spent quite a bit for an attorney. Firms large and small have said the same, they don’t want to get involved or there is a conflict of interest with the neighbors surveyor.

The neighbor has avoided talking to us about this boundary they are disputing for over 8 months and are suing us using their cousins map. The problem with the cousins map is that he ignores the original monument and sets a stake 3.3’ away. He then reports a line at N 1° East, which is what the deeds say, but his stake is 6’ away from where he reports it.

This has all come about because the neighbors want to use our land/yard to park a car instead of using their own property.

Our strategy at this point is to get a surveyor to map out our deed using the original monuments as a “boundary agreement”. Take that to a judge and let them decide. Other evidence we would present is our deed which describes this monument as the boundary between four parcels and the other adjoining deed as well states the same.

At what point would a surveyor or a judge decide that a monument described as a boundary between four parcels not be the boundary? Also, if a surveyor or judge decides it is in fact the boundary as documented, would you use the metes and bounds call from both deeds?

Your strategy as well as your following 2 questions are best answered by your Attorney.

There are many Surveyors here with more expertise than me, perhaps a solution will pop up after more have viewed your post.

Octa-Frequency GNSS Receiver, Quad Constellations

Posted by: @jmk83

. 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.       



Right, the corner monuments will hold because they have been excepted and documented through generations. The last surveyor wants to use distance from the outside control which in effect will change the lots from where it is and has been accepted and documented. Which distance from the old plat revealed a descepancy of distance where that corner monument “should be”. They have all searched exhaustively for where it should be, but the problem is it is where it is, at a power pole and fence. Our deed further describes that tract 2 runs with the line of tract 1 and terminates at the corner of lot 28 and 30. The intent is continuous lines at the same bearing. 22 years ago an agreement was made with the adjoiner (not neighbors that are suing) because the line on tract 2 runs about 18” onto a poured concrete driveway carport. They extended the line out 1.5° pie slice so that their property is not encroaching.

The neighbors filed additionally that if they can’t get their map recognized as the boundary they claim adverse possession. Which they have been adversely posing for three years parking on the land since the old lady passed away. They further had the 65 year old Maple tree cut down, “with permission” from our predecessors.


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).


Thanks for your response.
Yes, we were friends with the neighbors, until I got tired of their daughter parking on my lawn and garden. When surveyor number one showed us the boundary they got nasty, I assume it’s because it made them out to be liars. When we first moved in two years ago, the neighbors said the previous owners “gave” them a pie slice. It’s just too bad that neither of the parties made it official. From the day we purchased we actively possessed our land. Cleaning up the old landscaping and renovating the mid century home. When the family shake down happened we erected a fence set back 3ft which instigated them to start litigation. The cousin recorded his map at the register of deeds 3 months later, the day before they served us.
This all seems so simple to us just being laymen homeowner and tax papers. The old plat definitely is a protracted subdivision from a ww2 vet in 1950. I was told this was the first planned subdivision in waynesville. It appears the county commissioner who did work in the past handled it appropriately by describing the old marks in the ground that were very close to the intent of Nathan Rogers.


When we first moved in two years ago, the neighbors said the previous owners “gave” them a pie slice. It’s just too bad that neither of the parties made it official.

It doesn't take a written agreement to establish a legal boundary. And the fact that a person starts cleaning up land that is possibly not theirs doesn't make it theirs. The court would look for evidence of the agreement. How long ago? What evidence if any is there on the ground of an agreement and has it been continuous? Is there oral testimony of the previous owners that there was an agreement ? The answers to these questions would carry more weight with the county than any surveyors measurements or marks.


When the neighbors told us this, we said we had our deed and it mentioned no such conveyance. We checked again with our closing attorney and he did a second full title search which resulted in no conveyance of land. I have kept up with the previous owners at the holidays and they have never mentioned this “gift”. There are no marks in the ground in the front yard in question, we searched with a metal detector and six surveyors searched for monuments. When we purchased, the neighbors landscaping was pristine. Ours was over ten years over grown because the owners got old, bed ridden, and passed way. The house sat empty for two and a half years. The area in dispute was a rats nest of weeds, bushes, wild grapevines, a mess. I immediately started cleaning it up and was never told, hey you are on my property, or hey, thanks for doing my yard work for me, because she was still parking there. When I stopped the parking it became a battle between an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.


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.


Yes, that definitely sounds like what is going one here. Our tracts and house was established many years prior to others and they measured from the control point. When the other lots became established it was short of the old plat. So at that point, I would think adverse possession would win our our behalf because of our predecessors, marks, title.


In NY, if I could prove those facts with a fair degree of certainty we would win in court. Through retracement law, not adverse possession. Not sure how NC law deals with it.

Oscar with Calibration-Free Tilt Compensation - Tersus GNSS


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.



Thank you Nate,

Yes, I’m beginning to understand this orientation of the plats. My findings last night are from a survey in 1998 where he uses deed north, so the rotation actually represent what’s on documents. It’s interesting, the intent of the deed was for N 1° E lines, when actually surveyed in 1998 using deed north the monuments revealed the are N 00° 10’ 16” West. By that logic, I would think that is the boundary line bearing. It actually works out with everyone’s respective distances and holds the monumemts


It would be so nice to combine the parcels and get a new description and restore the one monument.


Thanks Nate, I appreciate the knowledge and insight. I really want to hire the town father grade of surveyor. He is the “best” and currently our county commissioner up for re-election. I tried hiring him twice. First time he tells me my neighbor, by name can “tell me where the line is”, and then the second time told me he didn’t want to get involved.

We spoke to someone today who will look over everything tonight. We have access to two unrecorded maps that are the adjoiner son both sides of our lots. These maps will hopefully be helpful because both use the same two points on my property as a tie to their work.


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  

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.



An explicit basis of bearings tied to the rest of the world is very helpful.

But convergence is insignificant to the OP situation, given that they are arguing over feet whereas convergence on the whole subdivision would be maybe a tenth.

  • @bill93, yes, I know, but, if you provide the proper metadata, then the rotational paradigm becomes fixed. If it is not provided, then it is still flapping in the breeze, as far as retracement is concerned.
  • Ps, and, if it is based on "true", but is really on "SPC grid", that can be feet of difference. Or, if it's Willy nilly, that also can be feet, and many feet.
  • N


Interesting, ok. It’s an unrecorded map with a new description written for the deed per this survey and his map is oriented to “deed north”. Not sure what that means as far as your statement. I would assume that it is true north. Done in 1998 before the put in the geodetic grid tie 1300’ north of us. What I find interesting is the old plats intent was for all lots to have parallel lines of N 1° E. If you run out the distances of the old plat only one monument is “close” within a foot. 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. That is what surveyor number 6 wants to do. I did ask him, how would that work? You going to knock on my neighbors door and say hey they own 11’ feet of your property now? The neighbors would say no, that they had a survey in 2012 that put irons in the ground and to get lost... tricky industry for you professionals


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. 





Hi Nate,

We have hired all but surveyor number 2. We have yet to pay anyone anything because they haven’t completed the job. Two of them backed out after doing field work. One of the refunded the 50% up front after not demonstrating the the deed on the ground.

We are in Waynesville, NC. Haywood county. We have not received any signed plats. We have a learned a little from each surveyor that comes along and reveals new information. To date, not a single surveyor has or is willing to hold the original monuments on our property and plot out what our deed says. We purchased deed plotting software and if you go by the calls and the monuments it’s closed within 1.5’ margin of error.


I have called countless surveyors in and around the region. Most don’t want to get involved in litigation or the have a “conflict” of interest. Conflict being the key word here.


DC5766EC 941D 4252 A82B DF161D3A7F81
98E57A2D EB00 4A46 BB59 84A620826C8A
E159E82B 1C99 4489 9E49 039A57D2E44F

We are parcel 7205 and 7102. The boundary issue is with lot 30/8225

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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)


Haha, I don’t get the joke, but I’m sure it’s funny.



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.


You smell the rat too??

Oscar with Calibration-Free Tilt Compensation - Tersus GNSS


  @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.


Yes, the boundary agreement is for the back tract, not in dispute. This was done in 1998 and the surveyor describes the monument in question as the boundary between four parcels. For some reason multiple surveyors will not acknowledge this.
If you plot out our deed and hold these monuments, it closes with a 1’ margin of error.


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.


Thanks for your response.

My question for surveyors, why wouldn’t you run out the deed calls from the existing and established documented corner monument to retrace the boundary? I have yet to get a surveyor to do just that. They all want to redesign the neighborhood and change established lots. We find ourselves in this situation because the neighbors are disputing what is on record. We do want to come to an “agreement” with these neighbors and settle, but I have to know the baseline which is the recorded line. Where does the paperwork say it is before we make an agreement.

Simply put (I hope) there really is no baseline or point of beginning, especially in a protracted subdivision such as yours. The corner monument could be existing and established for one purpose but not for the purpose you want it to be. Laws and rules for surveying are in place that are supposed to result in not changing established lots, and not redesigning neighborhoods. However, there are evidentiary problems even if all surveyors involved are very good at what they do. I would be looking for the most permanent current physical monument (paved road maybe) possible to tie any boundary agreement to, in addition to an accepted coordinate system such as state plane. You have a block of lots and everyone has a deed for a certain amount, but maybe there's not enough (remember it was not surveyed on creation). So, we can't just give one person what their deed calls for absolutely, based on one monument, when that conflicts with what another persons deed calls for based on another monument. It gets very complicated balancing evidence and equities involved.


I understand what you are saying, thank you. What I find interesting is the neighbor in dispute never had a survey in 60 years. There deed refers to lot 30 per the plat. No description. Our deed and everyone else’s around has a description that all line up. What seems to have happened is when lot 30 and 32 was sold they didn’t survey and the it was sandwiched between marked lots. They lost somewhere between 8-11’ between lot 30 and 32

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