Something Typical In Surveyor Reporting
I thought that some of you might gain some insight by examining a typical Surveyor's Report generated for a project I am working on.
I have altered the particulars so as to protect the innocent. This is a draft copy, I am still working on it.
Land Surveyor has been provided copies of several surveys of properties adjoining the subject tract as well as a copy of a survey performed on the subject tract. In this Land Surveyor’s opinion these surveys all appear to be in error for various reasons.
Land Surveyor was provided with a Title Insurance policy which describes the subject tract as Lot 50, in Block 250, Houston Lows (Houston Lows), recorded in Volume 10, Page 1140 of the Map Records of Harris County, Texas. The adjoining subdivision to the west of the subject tract is Block 10 of Harding Lows (Harding Lows), recorded in Volume 7250, Page 3070 of the Deed Records of Harris County, Texas.
There has been confusion for a number of years regarding the location of the true boundaries of the Lots and Blocks within the Houston Lows for this particular tier of Blocks which the subject tract lies within. There has also been confusion for a number of years as to the location of the Lots and Blocks within Harding Lows. This compounding confusion has led to a condition whereby the location of the possession of lands in the general area where the subject tract is at do not agree with the location of the Deeds these lands were acquired under.
The various roots for this confusion can be explained as a combination of poor Land Surveying, errors by the Harris County Appraisal District, errors in conveyances of these lands and incorrect assumptions by individuals and Governmental entities seeking to possess lands within the area where the subject tract is located at.
Below is a brief explanation of how the deeded boundaries of the subject tract were located by this Land Surveyor. Since the subject tract abuts Harding Lows, how its boundary was located by this Land Surveyor is explained below as well. In addition there is discussion below on how the confusion mentioned above came to exist regarding the location of the subject tract.
HOUSTON LOWS, TIER OF BLOCKS SUBJECT TRACT IS LOCATED WITHIN
As mentioned above Houston Lows is recorded in Volume 10, Page 1140 of the Map Records of Harris County, Texas. An examination of the Houston Laws map shows Block 250 as being located on a tier of Blocks at the westerly edge boundary of Houston Lows map. Many of the Blocks in the Houston Lows map are depicted as having two tiers of Lots running in a north/south direction with a 15 foot wide alley in between them, said Blocks being surrounded on all sides by 70 foot wide streets. The Lots on the west side of Block 250 are depicted as being 132 feet in depth in a east/west direction. In the case of this tier of Blocks that Block 250 is located in there is no 70 foot wide street depicted west of it on the Houston Lows map. Instead the Houston Lows map depicts a 6.95 foot wide strip on the west side of Block 250. It is apparent that the original intent of the Houston Lows map was to have the adjoining land owner to the west of Block 250 dedicate the rest of the 70 foot wide street. However this never occurred. This meant that there was no access to the Lots on the west side of Block 250 other than by the 15 foot wide alley on the east side of these Lots or the 6.95 foot wide strip on the west side of these Lots.
At some point there was an attempt to fix this problem and a map was filed for this area called “Map of Blocks 147, 148, 149, 150, 247, 248, 249, 250 and 275 Houston Lows” (replat) recorded in Volume 900, Page 2770 of the Deed Records of Harris County, Texas. The replat states “filed for record March 3rd 1896.” The replat depicts the Lots on the west tier of Block 250 as being 120 feet wide in a east/west direction and widens the 15 foot wide alley running through the center of Block 250 to 40 feet. The replat names the new 40 foot wide street it creates “Screwed.” Apparently once the replat was filed it was then forwarded to the Harris County Apprisal District which then changed the tax mosaic to match the replat and not the original Houston Lows map.
The replat however was in error. The original map of Houston Lows depicted a 15 foot wide alley, 132 foot deep Lots and a 6.95 foot wide strip on the westerly part of Block 250. This adds up to a total distance of 153.95 feet from the east edge of the 15 foot wide alley to the west edge of the map. The replat depicts a 40 foot wide street and then 120 foot deep Lots on the west side of Block 250. This adds up to a total distance of 160 feet from the east edge of the 40 foot wide street to the west edge of the map. In other words the replat created a 6.05 foot wide overlap with the adjoining lands west of Houston Lows map. This must have created conflict on the ground if subsequent Land Surveyor attempted to locate Lots on the west side of Block 250. Subsequent conveyances for Lots on the west side of Block 250 were made (or have been made in the past) using the original map (recorded in Volume 10, Page 1140 Map Records of Harris County, Texas) rather than the replat (recorded in Volume 900, Page 2770 of the Deed Records of Harris County, Texas), more than likely, to avoid this conflict. This can be evidenced by the description of the subject tract listed in the Title Insurance policy provided to the Land Surveyor.
Subsequent Land Surveyors attempting to locate Lots on the west side of this tier of Blocks in many cases apparently used the tax mosaic dimensions and the dimensions from the replat even though the conveyances they should have been locating were from the original Houston Lows map. This can be evidenced by the previous Survey of the subject tract dated 04/01/11 provided to the Land Surveyor (there are other multiple errors on said Survey). This resulted in uncertainty as to the location of Screwed Street (because the Land Surveyors found the west tier of Lots and Screwed Street 6.05 feet shorter than they were supposed to be according to the replat) in Blocks north of the Block the subject tract lies within. This can be evidence by the survey provided to this Land Surveyor on Lot 51 Block 250 dated Oct. 15, 2012. The survey depicts Lot 51 as having a depth of 114.08 feet and 114.12 feet respectively in an east/west direction while the replat it purports to be locating the Lot from depicts Lot 51 as being 120 feet in depth in an east/west direction. Again approximately a 6 foot discrepancy (there are other multiple errors on said Survey).
The confusion as to the location of the Lots on the west tier of Block 250 were in part hidden by confusion as to the location of Lots and Blocks within Harding Lows. This confusion is discussed below.
Harding Lows subdivision was performed by Banes (RPLS No. 10). This Land Surveyor has retraced Banes work many times over the last twenty years of practicing Professional Land Surveying in Houston, Texas. Banes’ work was typically very good and there seems little doubt that the original monuments, lines and locations shown on the “Harding Lows” subdivision map were correct at the time Banes completed his work on it.
It is unknown if any of Banes’ original monuments have been located by this survey however the location of the original lines shown on “Harding Lows” subdivision seems certain by evidence found and shown on this survey.
It appears that the location of Wacked Street at 18th Street on “Messed Up Place” (recorded in Volume 6550, Page 6110 of the Deed Records of Harris County, Texas) may have been mistaken as the location of Wacked Street as it passes into “Harding Lows”. Banes’ map of “Harding Lows” clearly shows a 10 foot jog to the east as Wacked Street passes from “Messed Up Place” into “Harding Lows” and it appears that subsequent Land Surveyors failed to take this into account and projected the location of Wacked Street from “Messed Up Place” into “Harding Lows” causing a 10 foot shift in possession to the west from the original location of Wacked Street shown on “Harding Lows”.
Apparently some subsequent Land Surveyors attempting to retrace Lot locations within “Harding Lows” pushed this error northerly through parts of the east side of Block 20 and parts of Block 10 of “Harding Lows”.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The conditions in Harding Lows created a compensating error hiding the problem with the Houston Lows map versus the replat.
Land Surveyor is unaware of any conveyance for the widening of Screwed Street to 40 feet from 15 feet wide other than the replat mentioned above. Since the conveyance for the subject tract is from the Houston Lows map and not the replat then Screwed Street would have a recorded width of 15 feet. This means the extra 25 feet the paving and utilities known as Screwed Street is occupying on the easterly side of the subject Lot is an apparent roadway and utility easement. This 25 foot wide apparent roadway and utility easement is presumed by the Land Surveyor to have ripened into an unwritten right vested in the Public. Further Governmental entities such as the City of Houston or quasi Governmental authorities like Centerpoint Energy could argue that they “accepted” Screwed Street at a total of 40 feet wide as shown by the replat which was filed for Public Record. In any case it would be unlikely that the owner of the subject tract could successfully claim to be the dominant tenant or fee simple owner of any land currently occupied by paving and utilities known as Screwed Street.
Since the subject tract was conveyed under the original Houston Lows map then this would leave a 6.95 foot strip adjoining the westerly line of the subject tract in theory still owned by the Public. The 6.95 foot wide strip apparently has never been accepted by the Public. Land Surveyor recommends that the owner of the subject tract approach the City of Houston for a Quit Claim Deed for the portion of the 6.95 foot strip directly adjoining the subject tract to the west. If the City of Houston denies that a 6.95 foot strip exists as shown on the original Houston Lows map then Land Surveyor recommends that an Affidavit of Ownership and Possession be filed by the owner of the subject tract with the County Clerk for the portion of the 6.95 foot strip directly adjoining the west side of the subject tract.
Regardless of how the question of the 6.95 foot strip is handled this would still leave approximately 3.6 feet of a two story garage/apartment protruding on portions of Lot 190 and Lot 200 in Block 10 of Harding Lows. This would also leave a wood fence protruding approximately 5.7 feet into portions of Lot 190 and Lot 200 in Block 10 of Harding Lows.
Land Surveyor recommends that the owner of the subject tract approach the owners of Lot 190 and Lot 200 in Block 10 of Harding Lows and form an agreement as to the location of the true boundary line between them. Such an agreement should be reduced to writing and filed for Public Record with the County Clerk.
Job No. H13171
Preliminary, this document shall not to be recorded for any purpose and shall not be used, or viewed or relied upon as a final survey document
Deward Karl Bowles
RPLS No. 4966
This report is based on and attached to the Land Title Survey and plat made by Deward Karl Bowles No. 4966 Registered Professional Land Surveyor on September 18, 2013.