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From a business standpoint, I am being asked to use a completed boundary survey recently done by another surveyor in which the client has now asked our firm to plat the property. They would like me to use the existing boundary survey as the basis for plat since they have already paid for this service. Having the original surveyor complete the platting process is not an option. How have others handled this?

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Steven Metelski
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Posted by: msurveyor

From a business standpoint, I am being asked to use a completed boundary survey recently done by another surveyor in which the client has now asked our firm to plat the property. They would like me to use the existing boundary survey as the basis for plat since they have already paid for this service. Having the original surveyor complete the platting process is not an option. How have others handled this?

This happens all the time in New Jersey. Surveyor A does a survey. Surveyor B is asked to do a subdivision. Surveyor A is required by law to sign the map and certify the boundary. Surveyor B is required by law to make sure the map meets or exceeds the map filing law and that the new lot lines close out.

You would have two signatures on the final plat. One from each surveyor.

Surveyor A is required to set the outbound monuments.

Surveyor B is responsible for setting the interior monuments.

 

 

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Tim V. PLS
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If you use it, you own it.

1. You have to satisfy yourself that you agree with the boundary depicted by the other surveyor. You're entitled to be paid for what it takes to be satisfied.

2. I'd want a complete explanation why the other surveyor can't do the platting. Maybe I wouldn't want this client after getting the explanation.

As my wife likes to tell the kids - don't borrow trouble. You'll earn plenty on your own.

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paden cash
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I have been in this situation several times due to a multitude of fast moving real estate, dead surveyors, cheap-skate clients and property that has lain fallow for a number of years due to economic conditions.  Like Tim V. says:  If you use it, you own it.  Maybe you can use the original boundary, maybe you can't.

But that doesn't necessarily indicate that the original survey is junk.  Verification of a boundary is just part of the platting process, no matter which surveyor performed it originally.

Around here the biggest problem I've seen is clients that feel your fees for platting should be somewhat less since they have a recent survey.  I hope you explained your fees and the mechanics of the platting process to them.

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Norman Oklahoma
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This is easier if the survey you are following is a signed and sealed public record. As in a recording state.  But like Tim and Paden have said, you must verify. That doesn't mean redoing the whole thing. And it doesn't mean quibbling over hundreths. 

I do this sort of thing fairly regularly. Some body does a boundary and topo. A building is designed -typically with zero, or near-zero, lot line setbacks. I'm hired to stake the building. I have to verify the boundary before staking. I tell the client that I'm "establishing control" for his project. Then I do what I must.     

 

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Cameron Watson PLS
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If there were non-boundary monument control points listed on the plans do you still verify the boundary in relation to the proposed building?  I think doing so is best practice from a liability standpoint but technically not necessary if the plans provide the control you are intended to base your layout on. 

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Dave Karoly
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Exactly right. A Surveyor here was retained to stake a building. He went off the plans and staked the building 0.5 foot into the setback which cost the contractor the cost of moving forms (fortunately it was caught before concrete). Contractor said pay up, LS said nope boundary not in contract, board said pay up if you want to keep your license. LS is responsible for verifying boundary location.

 

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Cameron Watson PLS
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I wonder how that would shake out in a state that doesn't include construction staking under the regulation of Licensed Land Surveyors.   

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A Harris
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Construction staking or boundary surveying, when the surveyor has to locate the construction locations in relation to a boundary, they best have a boundary license or else use the existing onsite construction control.

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Dave Karoly
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If someone with no license can legally do construction layout I don't think the board would have jurisdiction unless the staker is surveying the boundary in order to do the layout.

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I would be extremely unhappy with a scenario like that.  Obviously the siteplan was incorrect if a building was designed by professionals to be built in those locations a without proving it to be viable.  It sounds more like a plan than a design.  "build the building in accordance with current zoning ordinances" . This places all of the design parameters regarding location on the construction surveyor which is not were it should be placed.

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Dave Karoly
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It's our responsibility to be the adult supervision in boundary matters.  If the plan shows the building 5 feet from the boundary then the boundary needs to be located; that doesn't necessarily mean the Surveyor has to check the validity of the 5 feet in the Zoning Ordinance since that is the Architect's responsibility but Boundary is our responsibility.

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I respectfully disagree(even though my board evidently doesn't).  The responsibility falls on the shoulders of those designing the building and the site.  If not, why even generate a plan, just prepare a few sentences such as construction surveyor to stake building 5' from all property lines and construction surveyor to stake parking lot and sewer drains to the north.  This is why we will never stake work designed by others.  Most designs I see are more like guidelines filled with CYA statements with key factors missing like a real boundary and topographic survey PRIOR to plan approval.

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Dave Karoly
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I've seen a lot of "5% max" on walkways, doesn't always work.  They should design it.  We recently topo'd a parking lot because the building interior improvement value crossed a threshold where they have to comply with ADA in the parking lot or at least check.  So we topo'd it and checked the boundary (although the site is owned by Forest Service-it's a joint use building-BLM on the east, Forest Service on the west and private on the north but not a factor, that's in the back.

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Cameron Watson PLS
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The plan shows the building 5' from a line that someone else determined to be the boundary.  Are you saying as the guy staking the building from that plan it's my responsibility to prove or disprove the prior boundary determination before I can stake the building?  Or does my responsibility end when I can prove that I've staked the building 5' from the same line that's shown on the plan? My opinion is the latter although the former would near certainly guarantee the Design Surveyor would be the one hired to do the layout when it comes time for construction.  No GC or owner would want to pay for a second boundary retracement before staking could be done.  At least not around here.

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Dave Karoly
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I'm not saying that, I'm saying the California Board cited a Surveyor who staked a building in the setback.  It would be prudent to at least check, not necessarily reinvent the wheel.  If the boundary has not been surveyed at all then the owner of the project should be advised he needs a boundary survey.  I did that one time, I said you are going to spend multiple hundred thousand dollars building your house, you need to know where your boundaries are, the one time the guy listened to me LOL.

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Cameron Watson PLS
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Not knowing the particulars or background history of the case you're referring to it's hard to make informed opinions or comments but in general if the staking surveyor put the building where the plans said to put it I think it's BS that it turned into his problem to pay for.  It's my opinion that on the construction side of our world it's our job to execute the intent of the approved construction documents not provide new boundary opinions, that box should have already been checked and we should be able to rely on it.  Obviously if there is a blatant blunder discovered it's our job to protect our Client by brining it up but if I'm hitting the boundary monuments and whatever supplementary control points listed on the plans within the construction tolerances of the job I'm sleeping okay without digging any deeper into it. 

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Even if the surveyor is exonerated in court, he lost money, time and peace of mind. NEVER stake anything until you have satisfied yourself as to the correctness of the location(s) of the item(s) to be built.

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Norman Oklahoma
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That's a hypothetical since it has never happened. But, yes. I would be verifying that, too.   

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Paul in PA
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First off you have to meet with the prior surveyor, with or without the client. Make sure he is aware of the client's intentions. Find out if he is OK with it. It is your responsibility to ask if he has been paid in full. If not, ask why. Whatever he is still owed is a basis to figure out what you will be owed when you to are gone. Do not be afraid to ask what he will share as to his work. Personally I would be more interested in his field book data than his CAD file.

Sometimes you are happy to see clients go, I know I have been. Having worked hard to get it right, I would not want the next guy get it wrong, because that looks badly for me. So I have shared notes, field work books etc. However one client so aggravated me, that he got only what he had paid for and maps and data that was shared with me from other firms was returned 100% directly to those firms. As far as I can tell from observation they built that project completely per my Preliminary Approved Plans, except for the fence around the detention pond. He did not want to put in the fence as I designed it and that was where we separated. Not just that , he did not want to pay for a correct second survey because the survey that he paid for before was the surveyor who agreed to seal for the application did not agree with the Filed Map monuments on three sides. It took me a few years to pay off the surveyor that helped me figure out that mess. I was uncertain if there were problems from the beginning so all designed lots to have enough area allowance for irregularities. You should only learn the hard way once, if not at all.

Paul in PA

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Cameron Watson PLS
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I'm curious about the necessity to ask the prior surveyor anything.  How far back does this responsibility extend?  If someone had a boundary survey done 10 years ago and then comes to me today to plat it I wouldn't think about tracking down the guy from 10 years ago to see if he's "OK with it" or to make sure he had been paid.  The person I would be working for might not even be the same owner as the one from 10 years ago. 

 

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