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A Guide to Understanding Land Surveys, 3rd Edition

ISBN: 978-0-470-23058-9
272 pages
December 2008, ©2009
A Guide to Understanding Land Surveys, 3rd Edition (0470230584) cover image
The nonsurveyor's definitive land survey sourcebook—now extensively updated

Over the last several decades, the Internet has allowed individuals with a non-technical background to assume more control of land surveys. But without a clear understanding of how to accurately use land survey data, and faced with the challenges of communicating specific requirements to a professional land surveyor, conflicts often arise that lead to litigation.

A Guide to Understanding Land Surveys bridges the ever-expanding communication gap between the users of land boundary information and professional land surveyors.

This indispensable guide clearly explains the functions and procedures required in every survey (routine or otherwise), and the role of a surveyor in their investigation and re-establishment. It is a must-have resource for title attorneys, paralegals, realtors, government agents, and others who rely on the information gathered and presented by land surveys.

Written in nontechnical language and supported by numerous line drawings, A Guide to Understanding Land Surveys not only helps readers gain a strong familiarity with a survey, plat, or land description, but enables them to accurately evaluate it, detect any inadequacies, and make the proper adjustments to obtain approval.

The Third Edition of A Guide to Understanding Land Surveys has been expanded with thirty percent new material and is fully updated to reflect the latest practice guidelines and technology, including the use of GPS and GIS in land boundary re-establishment. Also included is important new material on how technology should be interpreted in assessing the quality and accuracy of a land survey.

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PREFACE.

1 PURPOSE OF THE BOOK.

2 REAL PROPERTY ON A ROUND PLANET.

2.1. Ownership.

2.2. Title.

2.3. Boundaries.

2.4. Deed.

2.5. Identifying Boundaries.

2.6. Corners.

3 GEOMETRY.

3.1. Plane Geometry.

3.2. Land Point.

3.3. Land Line.

3.4. Straight Land Line.

3.5. Plumb Line.

3.6. Level.

3.7. Land Distances.

3.8. Elevation.

3.9. Land Area.

3.10. Horizontal Angles.

3.11. Vertical Angles.

3.12. Degrees, Minutes, and Seconds.

3.13. Maps or Plats.

4 DEFINING NORTH.

4.1. True North.

4.2. Astronomic North.

4.3. Magnetic North.

4.4. Assumed North.

4.5. Grid North.

4.6. Directions.

4.7. Azimuths.

4.8. Bearings.

5 PROJECTION SYSTEMS.

5.1. Projectionless Maps.

5.2. Tangent Plane Projections.

5.3. Advantages of Tangent Plane Systems.

5.4. Disadvantages of Tangent Plane Systems.

5.5. State Plane Projections.

5.6. Advantages of State Plane Projections.

5.7. Disadvantages of the State Plane Projection.

6 FUNDAMENTALS OF MEASUREMENTS.

6.1. Accuracy and Precision.

6.2. Implied Precision.

6.3. Errors.

6.4. All Measurements Include Errors.

6.5. Reduction of Errors.

6.6. Development of Standard Procedures.

6.7. Colonial Period.

6.8. Post–Civil War Period.

6.9. Beginning of the Modern Period.

7 LAND RECORD SYSTEMS.

7.1. Metes and Bounds System.

7.2. U.S. Public Land System (USPLS).

7.3. Platted Subdivision or Urban Systems.

8 THE GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM (GPS).

8.1. Overview.

8.2. Fundamentals.

8.3. GPS and Land Surveys.

8.4. CORS Networks.

8.5. Practical Application.

8.6. Strengths.

8.7. Weaknesses.

8.8. Coping with Reality.

9 THE GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (GIS) REVOLUTION.

9.1. Building a Foundation.

9.2. Sources of Information.

9.3. System Maintenance.

9.4. Potential Users.

9.5. Potential for Misapplication.

10 BOUNDARY RECOVERY.

10.1. Rules of Evidence.

10.2. Sources of Evidence.

10.3. Office Procedure.

10.4. Field Procedure.

10.5. Rendering a Decision.

10.6. USPLS Boundary Recovery.

10.7. Metes and Bounds Boundary Recovery.

10.8. Platted Subdivision Boundary Recovery.

11 EVALUATING SURVEY PLATS.

11.1. Plat Evaluation Checklist.

11.2. Determining the Land Record System Used.

11.3. Determining the Map Projection Used.

11.4. Evaluating the Age of the Survey.

11.5. Determining the Purpose of the Survey.

11.6. Examining the Survey for Gross Discrepancies.

11.7. North Arrow.

11.8. Legal Description.

11.9. Date of the Survey.

11.10. Name of the Surveyor.

11.11. Signature and Seal.

11.12. Adjoining Properties.

11.13. Dimensions of All Sides.

11.14. Bearing or Angles.

11.15. Name of Client, Purpose of Survey.

11.16. Certification.

11.17. Limiting Words or Phrases.

11.18. Area.

11.19. Scale.

11.20. Comparing the Survey Plat with the Deed.

11.21. Examining the Survey Plat for Easements.

11.22. Examining the Survey Plat for Encroachments.

11.23. Determining the Precision Required.

11.24. Determining Needs Not Covered in a Survey Plat.

11.25. Contacting the Surveyor.

12 EXERCISES IN EVALUATING SURVEY PLATS.

12.1. The Case of the Three Partners.

12.2. The Land Grabber.

12.3. Easement Surprise.

12.4. Excessive Problems.

12.5. Metes Meets Bounds.

12.6. The Square That Wasn’t There.

13 WRITING LEGAL DESCRIPTIONS.

13.1. Creating New Parcels.

13.2. Existing Parcels.

13.3. General Outline.

13.4. The Caption.

13.5. The Narrative.

13.6. Key Phrases.

13.7. Deletions or Additions.

13.8. References.

14 EXERCISES IN WRITING DEED DESCRIPTIONS.

14.1. Case 1.

14.2. Case 2.

14.3. Case 3.

15 ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT15.1. Confidentiality.

15.2. Professional Courtesy.

15.3. Impartial Evaluation.

15.4. Promote Professionalism.

APPENDIX OF TABLES.

GLOSSARY.

INDEX.

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Stephen V. Estopinal, PLS, PE, is Senior Engineer/Surveyor at Chenevert Songy Rodi Soderberg (CSRS), an architectural, civil engineering, and program manage--ment service company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was formerly the owner of Estopinal Surveying and Engineering, Inc., in Chalmette, Louisiana, and has been in the practice of land surveying for more than forty years. A columnist for Professional Surveyor magazine, he is a frequent lecturer on surveying matters and regularly serves as an expert witness.

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