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I was hired to perform a survey of a Lot within a recorded subdivision. My contact was through the contractor who was building a new home on it for the owner. We discussed it and the owner of the land signed our contract to start work. We sent material in the contract asking for a copy of the title policy which the contractor eventually obtained from the owner and passed along to us.


Everything went fine and we eventually staked out the building and the home was built on it. Approximately 1 month after our work was completed I received a panicked call from the contractor. Apparently the owner had decided to build a new pool behind the now completed house and the construction crew had struck underground utility lines when they began excavation. The contractor who built the home was saying that the Architect of the pool had a copy of a survey performed by another firm which the Architect was using for the pool design. The survey the Architect was using was performed for the owner of the property for the purchase of the land. That survey showed a utility easement at the very rear of the property where as my survey showed the utility easement directly behind the new house that had been constructed (about 40' of difference). I asked him where they were excavating when they hit the utility lines. When he told me I pointed out that this is exactly where I was showing the utility easement on my survey.


The contractor was very relieved when it became apparent that is was the other survey that was wrong and not the one we had performed. He was not part of the new contract and this news meant that we were totally out of the loop of the new problem. He said he would talk to the Architect and ask if I would mind talking with him, I said fine.


After several phone conversations through the Architect the owner hired me to prepare the necessary paper work to re-route the utility easement. The Architect has made it clear that this problem has cost the owner a fortune in construction delays and extra expenses, not to mention the fact that the owner has been unable to obtain an occupancy permit because of the delay in the pool construction. Until this matter is resolved with the utility easement the owner has a new home he can't move into. I advised the Architect to have the owner contacted me directly so that I could advise him on recovering damages from the other Land Surveyor. 


This was a simple mistake and probably a result of the Land Surveyor never looking at the recorded map record because the title commitment stated the utility easement was "at the rear" of the subject tract. It would not be fair if I did not mention that the land surveying firm that made this mistake is the same land surveying firm I have caught making a number of mistakes in the past. We have recovered our fees for our services from this land surveying firm at least twice in the past on behalf of our clients. I have signed at least one Affidavit of Merit against a Land Surveyor working for this firm. 


I also have to mention that the Architect has sent me a sketch of how they would like to re-route the utility easement which shows the new easement partially on a neighbors land. I have sent him back a list of options to avoid this potential new mistake and as of this writing awaiting a reply.


Sloppy work, or not doing the work to save money is a mistake. A Land Surveyor must operate with the highest ethical standards or face the consequences. If the firm you are working at as a Land Surveyor is not permitting you to operate ethically then you should withdraw. 

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  • Land Surveyor
    Dean, I have a similar story myself. It can be rough if you operate as an ethical professional but the fringe benefit of sleeping well at night is pretty nice.
  • I agree with the statement " If the firm you are working at as a Land Surveyor is not permitting you to operate ethically then you should withdraw." The last job I had before I went into business in 1990 was asking me rather forcibly to do some unethical things. I refused and left the firm and went into business. Now when I see the owner ( my old boss) I always thank him.

  • Land Surveyor

    Well said Matthew. While I do not subscribe to the bucket rule as you said I know what is close enough and what is too far. This is close enough. 

  • Nice pic highlighting a common theme:  "pincushion corners."  My father, a PLS, has recently enlightened me on what they call the "bucket rule."  You take a standard bucket and place it over the existing corner and if your proposed point falls within the bucket, use the existing one.  The governing distance would probably be under a foot.  Sometimes these rogue surveyors make no sense what so ever.  "That point was about 6 or 7 hundredths off so we set our own."  Crazy.  No, I don't carry a bucket around in the field but I know what's close and what's not.  THAT was too close for another point.

    I too try to be an educator of the public in that they have no idea what exactly our responsibilities are to THEM and I don't hesitate to explain what their options are.  I am a humble servant of the public and try to do the right thing by everyone I come in contact with in the field and the office.

    Matthew L. Harnett, LSIT

  • Land Surveyor

    Deward, I couldn't agree with you more on your implication that a Professional Land Surveyor should be able to advise his client on what his or her options are. Ideally before, but especially when things get litigious.  It seems that you have a skill in avoiding litigation and that your understanding of professional liability transcends that of most surveyors, generally speaking, since most surveyors do not have a vested interest in their company.

    And what is that photo?  Are you kidding me?  Did the second surveyor come in with a bigger monument with a bigger cap for advertisement purposes?  I hope not, because that is not the ad you would want to run if you want to be considered an expert in the nuances of survey evidence and monumentation.

    Some men you just can't reach....

    Great Post!

    -Scott D. Warner, R.L.S.

  • LOVE THE PIC!!! Oh, boy!! Double monumentation!!! Is it from the same company? I have seen this countless times here in San Antonio and can never believe it when it happens to be the same firm.
    • Land Surveyor

      No this is a different firm. The photo shows an iron rod set by me some 10 years ago underneath the "new" iron rod set by another firm in the last couple of years. Oddly the firm that did the "new" survey called for the iron rod that I set to be the corner in their metes and bounds they created that was filed for public record. Somehow this was not relayed to their field crew who apparently proceeded to drive an iron rod directly on top of mine forcing it slightly to one side.


      Between you and I the Land Surveyor who performed the "new" survey now sits on the Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying.


      I posted a video of this on this site and could write a novel on my position regarding the various issues this kind of thing brings up. I am not opposed to setting an iron rod where you believe the property corner is actually located at however as you can see in the photo 0.08' or less is well within the standard of care. I will start writing some more about my beliefs regarding the theory and practice of Land Surveying. I have written a number of articles already and I encourage you to write some of your own. If you get a chance read some of what I have written and add your own two cents. I am not perfect and learn everyday, this is what Land Surveying is about and has always been about.


  • GEO Ambassador
    right on Karl.....just goes to show!
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