CHAIN! The weakest link (in the chain)

by: Deward “Karl” Bowles,

Texas RPLS no. 4966

  Certain magazines (trade magazines) have purported to represent the current interests of our profession by exposing Land Surveyors to new technologies and philosophies regarding our industry.  These magazines have been around for decades in many cases.


   These so called trade magazines have treated us for years and years now to articles where the authors (pundits) of these articles chide us insisting that Land Surveying is dead.  The pundits warn us that we must reinvent ourselves as somebody or something else than what we are.  They tell us we must act as an arbitrator, offer legal advice, planning advice, GIS services, etc., etc., anything but be the Land Surveyors we are.  These pundits tell us that the professional service of Land Surveying simply has no future with the new technology that is here or coming!  If you just keep buying the newest technology and start doing anything but actually practicing Land Surveying everything will be OK and our future will be secure.

   Besides, these pundits tell us, we don’t really know how to Land Survey anyway and it has never really been a profession to begin with.  We don’t know the law like they (the pundits) do and if we did there would never be a difference of opinion, that their opinion is always right about anything and everything when it comes to Land Surveying theory and practice.  The pundits tell us that our Professional Societies represent interests counter to those of the neo professional Land Surveyor.  The pundits tell us the historic manuals of practice spelling out how Land Surveys should be performed should be ignored. That there are no original Land Surveys only “first surveyors.” These pundits tell us that anything found anywhere near the record boundary corner should be held as marking the boundary corner to eliminate “pin cushions.” 

   These pundits berate other Land Surveyors for surveying the adjoining properties to the property we are trying to survey the boundaries of, chastise us for researching the chain of title of real properties to resolve deed ambiguities and claim fences are much better evidence of the “true” boundary regardless of what other evidence there may be to the contrary.  They extol the virtues of “serving” their clients by solving “problems” for them that don’t exist which they create with their own brand of Land Surveying theory and practice.

   These trade magazine pundits go on to misread, misunderstand or misinterpret case law where they themselves are located at yet insist that the law colloquial to their location should apply to any and all Land Surveyors no matter where they may be located.  They tell us to adjudicate the boundaries of property in conflict without disclosing any of the conflicting evidence to our clients or anyone else for that matter.

   Land Surveyors have become so brainwashed reading this rhetoric from these trade magazine pundits over the years that they have lost sight of what a Land Surveyor actually does and has done in the past.

   Well I am here to assure you the profession of Land Surveying will die if we don’t get back to some fundamentals and start teaching aspiring Land Surveyors how to actually Land Survey.

   Fences are rarely the best evidence of a the original property boundary no matter what you may have heard from these trade magazine pundits.  Further case law establishing how a Land Survey should be performed in the particular area the land is located at you are surveying in is the only guide you should be using to perform those surveys.  For example not reporting conflicting evidence or ignoring evidence of the original boundary on a Land Survey is a violation of State Law in some jurisdictions. 

   These trade magazine pundits tell us that Land Surveyors don't really need to be licensed and insinuate Land Surveying was never a profession to begin with. Land Surveyors are licensed to protect the Public and that is the only reason we are licensed.  While there is nothing wrong with offering products and services that don't have anything to do with Land Surveying, Land Surveying is a unique profession.  Unlike engineers, doctors or lawyers, Land Surveyors are not advocates for their clients.  Land Surveyors have a greater duty to the general public than they do to any one of their particular clients.  Our purpose is too stabilized and perpetuate Real Property boundaries both in the Public Record and on the ground. We are here to prevent litigation over Real Property boundaries and inform the Public about what they have Record Title to. 

   There are at least two sides to every boundary that we survey and therefore Land Surveyors can’t allow their opinion of a boundary location to be influenced by the wishes or beliefs of some particular client that is paying their fee.  We must survey each and every boundary the same way we would if we were surveying it for the other side.  If we depart from this code of conduct then that is when we cease being Land Surveyors and become something else.

   Don’t let these trade magazine pundits with a degree in hot air destroy the oldest and grandest profession of them all.  Go forth and Land Survey and do it according to the Law in your location and in the Land Surveying traditions practiced by your predecessors at the location you are surveying.  That will save the profession of Land Surveying and not listening to some hot air artist who does not have the first clue what Land Surveyors really do.

Come Ahead!


This Content Originally Published by a land surveyor to Land Surveyors United Network

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Reply by Lalith Senanayake on November 19, 2014 at 11:00am

Thanks so much Deward,
On 18th November I went to locate a final decreed boundary with Fiscal officials to establish the possession,
The adjoining boundary has been located by the other party and marked the same boundary,there is somethig fisshy there,as the land decreed for 5 allotmens I disided to do a resurvey and locate the boundary without ambiguity I reported the matter,
I had to explain the parties with a greatest difficulty,
As you have written above the physical boundary may differ with the decreed boundary.
But they think it is very easy to do a survey and fix the boundaries in conflict of 23perch of land within two hours,as they started at 3pm to reach the land.
So what I do next is to get the field notes,replot superimposd and see if there is a descripancy.
That is what is Important to our profession

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