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Not a Surveyor

Texas: A Comprehensive Journey through its Surveying History

Texas, the Lone Star State, boasts a surveying history as vast and varied as its expansive terrain and diverse population. From the Spanish land grants of the colonial era to the modern metropolises and sprawling ranchlands, surveying has been instrumental in shaping Texas' landscape, economy, and culture. This exploration delves into the multifaceted history of surveying in Texas, highlighting notable surveyors, landmark surveys, the establishment of professional organizations, and key events…

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Not a Surveyor

Harris County Replat - Drainage Easement Release Request

Hi!Really apologize for barging in, but I am in Harris County backing up to a Lake Houston canal.  I am in need of a surveyor to help me with a replat to remove the upper section of a drainage easement and then follow through with the planning comission to have it approved.  I have received an easement release from my local HarrisCounty Water Board and received an email from HarrisCounty Flood District saying they have no interest in my easement.  However, I have called 5-6 surveyors and can't…

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Following Footsteps Once upon a Time.

Hi Everyone,Every State has a rich history about how and when and what it took to become a State.Just like our Countrys' history on how our founding Fathers and the struggles it took to settle this land.As we all know it called on it's surveyors, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.Just to name those that everyone knew as well as they were also presidents.They fought other Countries and the native people who did not know what a Flag  meant.Because they had no Flag. But this…

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Professional Land Surveyors Of Texas

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Texas, USA


Professional Land Surveyors of Texas



In this group, feel free to discuss anything related to land surveying industry in the state of Texas.


Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying

State Statutes 

Rules & Regulations

Continuing Education Requirements

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  • Calling to surveyors in the Abilene area, TX.

    We just received an inquiry from building owner is looking for plat of survey of existing residence on Gilmer Ave, Abilene, TX.

    Please contact [email protected] with any information and we'll put you in touch with building owner.

    The ABR Team

    The National GIS for Building Plans - Construction Document Management, File Sharing, Scanning Serv…
    America's Building Records - The national GIS system for building plans.Store construction drawings, preserve building plans, explore existing buildi…
  • Survey Legend

    The Texas Board wants your pictures

  • Land Surveyor

    Hey, thanks for the very articulate and reasoned response Mr. Terry. I agree that educating the public is the key however the gist of the article is it may be time to examine the rules I mention to bring them in line with what the public expects while at the same time informing them of the limitations of the information a Land Surveyor provides in a Land Survey. The average person who looks at a Land Survey and sees the area 1.00 acres or a square footage does not realize that the area expression they are looking at is limited by a Board rule. On the other hand most average people who see an area expressed "1.0000 acres more or less" or "square feet more or less" understand that the expression IS LIMITED even though they have not read the Board rule or grasp what the actual limits of that type of expression imply.

    Thanks again for the great response! By the way lets move this discussion out to the main page next time. This was written many years ago and was put here back when the categories were less defined.

  • Continued:

    Let’s examine area in a very simple way. This is the way I explain it to title companies, realtors and in some instances municipal staff. First let us suppose that the linear error of closure on a figure that is 10,000 perimeter feet is 0.05 feet. Most surveyors would enjoy having an error of closure of 1:200,000 to report to their clients. That 0.05-foot error could be in either direction since it is a random error (assuming that the systematic errors have been accounted for before its computation). The area of the error is 0.05 feet times 10,000 or +/-500 square feet. So if the figure surveyed is square or 2,500 linear feet per side its area is about 143-1/2 acres with a known error of about 1,000 square feet. One would be kidding himself to report square footage to anything more precise. How does one accomplish reporting this mathematically?


    TSPS notwithstanding, the area precision is actually half of the precision as determined linearly (mathematical proofs are available). So for a linear closure of 1:200,000 the area precision is 1:100,000. Using the same figure above the area error would mathematically be up to +/-62.5 square feet. One could state that the area embraced by the field notes in his description contained 6,250,000 square feet with an actual area of 63 square feet more or less than that reported. Play with the language but we now know that we cannot determine land areas to the nearest square foot in most cases and need to persuade people requesting such that they are asking for the impossible.


    As the tract gets smaller, the least count (integer of measurement) limits precision so achieving the 1:200,000 level of precision linearly becomes unattainable. The absolute area precision doesn’t get down to a single square foot until the figure is about the size of a residence and even then it is questionable that it is reproducible. One can also develop similar algorithms to quantify area from positional tolerances.

  • Deward Bowles posted an essay about area precision on May 12, 2011, which I just read. In his essay Deward posed a question about how to report areas. He referenced the Texas Board of Professional Surveyor‚Äôs Rule 663.15 (d). I found the quoted rule under 663.11. Precision and Accuracy as, ‚ÄúSurvey measurement shall be made with equipment and methods of practice capable of attaining the accuracy and tolerances required by the professional surveying services being performed. Ares, if reported, shall be produced, recited, and/or shown only to the least significant number compatible with the precision of closure.‚ÄĚ


    Reporting area has been an interesting topic since my earliest days of surveying. From my profile one can see that I started surveying using Peter’s 8-Place Trig Tables and filling out DMD spreadsheets. One’s ability to produce area calculations to several places right of the decimal was limited by the display on the rotary calculator. Very few people in my mentorship were familiar with significant digits in those early days. I was a math major at the University of Houston so I found myself trying to explain a concept to old sage surveyors who found the topic less than interesting and bordering on treason.


    Later when I got involved with writing computer software with Holguin and Clark out of El Paso, Texas, we had high-precision trig functions and double-precision numeric digits. The programs simply used all of the precision available and the round-off was left to the user. Once again I tried to persuade surveyors to limit the reporting of square footage based on the precision of their measurements but measurement precision was highly subjective since no one was doing statistical analysis of their measurements. At that point most surveyors still held to the mistaken opinion that their chained closures were precise beyond reason. We would see ‚ÄúError of Closure‚ÄĚ on a loop that was 1:25,000 and believe that the error propagation was minimal.


    Once I was introduced to a network least squares method of measurement analysis it became patently obvious that my conventional surveying with total stations was far inferior to my earlier belief. I spent years working with ways to improve the positional tolerance for my survey stations. Introduction of GPS vectors to create high-precision connections between remote stations proved to be the only method available to achieve the results that many standards required. The precision of area is exaggerated by the square of the error so for all of those older loops my areas were far from being the number of square feet implied by the arithmetic.

  • Survey Legend
    I added a feed of Videos tagged "Tx" to this group so in the future please tag all photos, videos and discussions that you'd like to show up in the Texas Surveyors Group with the tag: Tx
  • Land Surveyor


    Under the ¬†(1) Texas Administrative¬†Code, Title 22, Part 28, Chapter 663,¬†Subchapter B, Rule 663.15 (d), we¬†find the statement ‚ÄēAreas, if reported,¬†shall be produced, recited, and/or¬†shown only to the least significant¬†number compatible with the precision¬†of closure.‚ÄĖCertainly area would be the least reliable product as a result of actual field¬†measurements and we can all understand the basis for the reasoning behind such a rule. It follows that when¬†expressing area it is prudent that it¬†should be noted in a manner that allows the public to be able to understand the limitations of this product.The reality of practice however is an¬†entirely different matter. Often area is¬†required to be noted on Land Surveyor‚Äės products within the nearest¬†square foot (2) by various local governmental entities. This is particularly true¬†for urban areas where parcel sizes¬†average in the range of 5,000 square¬†feet. ¬†Lot coverage, building coverage¬†and other matters make the area expression a critical issue for development of small parcels in an urban¬†setting.This question of how to satisfy board¬†rules and the rules of local government entities is aggravated by an apparent typographical error in (3) Chapter 663.18 (2), which states the Land¬†Surveyor ‚Äēshall abide by, and conform¬†to, the provisions of the state code¬†and any local codes and ordinances¬†not consistent with this Act.‚ÄĖThe Land Surveyor is faced with a¬†certain dichotomy and this has resulted in various attempts to try and¬†satisfy both the need to comply with¬†the board rule and the need to comply¬†with the local governmental entities¬†requirements. ¬†For example, I recently¬†found a subdivision map that reported the area¬†of a parcel expressed as 0.948 acres¬†(41,300 square feet). Here the area¬†has been expressed as a fraction of¬†acreage complies with the Board Rule,¬†the area as expressed in square feet¬†does not. ¬†There are many examples of¬†this and it is not my intention to attack¬†the Land Surveyor nor am I suggesting¬†they have done anything wrong.Area expressed to the nearest square¬†foot is actually helpful in many situations from the stand point of the Land¬†Surveyor because it introduces an¬†extra tool by which typographical errors in written or mapped land descriptions can be trapped. I have often¬†been able to resolve ambiguities in¬†written descriptions and maps as a¬†result of having the scrivener or¬†drafter express the area to the nearest¬†square foot. For example a transposition error of a number or letter can be¬†indentified and corrected by exploring¬†the product of the ambiguity, computing the resulting areas and comparing¬†that with the area in the description.¬†The problem with placing limitations¬†on how area is expressed is compounded by the hypocrisy that there¬†are no such limitations placed on how¬†distance or angles are expressed. All¬†of these elements are part of a description, why put limitations on how¬†one element is expressed when the¬†other elements do not have any such¬†limitations? ¬†Are not all measurements¬†expressed subject to similar limitations in precision?Clearly arguments on either side of the¬†issue of how area should be expressed by a Land Surveyor can be¬†compelling¬†My answer has been to rely on the¬†Texas Supreme Court case of ¬†Bickler¬†v. Bickler, 403 S.W.Wd 354 which¬†stated that "Words "more or less"¬†when used in conveyance to qualify¬†statements of quantity and descriptive¬†calls for distance function to relieve¬†exactness."¬†Thus a boundary survey report prepared by me always contains the¬†statement ‚Äēmore or less‚ÄĖ when it¬†comes to the expression of area to the¬†nearest square foot. The reasoning¬†being that I believe a credible argument can be made that by using the¬†term ‚Äēmore or less‚ÄĖ, as defined by the¬†Texas Supreme Court, I have complied¬†with the intent of the board rule regarding area expression. This also¬†allows me to make an equally credible¬†argument that I have also complied¬†with local governmental entities rules¬†who desire area to be expressed by¬†the Land Surveyor to the nearest¬†square foot.Regardless of how one views this issue the time may have come for the¬†individual Land Surveyor and the¬†Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying to revisit the Board rules mentioned above.


    Come Ahead!

  • Land Surveyor

    1201148422?profile=originalHere is a photo of a City of Houston Street Reference Monument at the intersection of North Main and Quitman. There is only one other surviving on North Main which is it's sister monument at the intersection of North Main and Burnett. The monument in the box in this photo was placed there sometime around 1890, just like it's sister monument. These two monuments control the entire section of town bounded by Boundary Street to the North, Marion Street to the East, South Street to the West and Burnett Street to the South. I took this photo several years ago but the first time we recovered this baby was back in 1996 or so. You can see it has almost been paved over when this photo was taken.


    I thought you might want to look at this photo because these monuments will soon be obliterated. The light rail is headed up North Main and there is heavy construction going on right now to ready the sewer system. These monuments are not long for the world after managing to survive for over 100 years.


    Almost all the Street Reference Monuments have been obliterated in the last 10 years in downtown Houston because of street repaving and the light rail. Despite my attempts to get something done at the time nobody would listen and as a result there are few left now. It is such a shame to see these monuments obliterated because of ignorance.


    I have actually now had to fight off a couple of claims from other Land Surveyors that I never found some of these monuments after they were obliterated. They have even accused me of fabricating reference data for their location. This is generally because my boundary opinion disagrees with their boundary opinion which they arrived at not knowing that these Street Reference Monuments exist and control many of the boundaries in Houston.


    If you are in the Houston area or plan to practice here, you may want to run down to North Main and tie down the location of these monuments for future reference. Just a word of advice and a heads up. I am going to post some more pictures in the photo area of these monuments. Sadly many of the monuments in those photos no longer exist.

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