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Seeing The Forest For The Trees: How Surveying Takes In The Whole Picture

by Clinton Stone

Land surveying is a very old method of looking at pieces of land to determine features and values. It has been done for hundreds of years. Usually only the wealthy would request a surveyor to view their lands and inform the wealthy owners of everything their property encompassed. As cities sprang up and land was divided, it became more common for surveyors to view pieces of land and break the pieces of land up into smaller plots for owners to sell off at a profit. 

When you own a larger piece of land of about a few acres or so, you will also want to know what is on your land and what it looks like from a surveyor's point of view. Most of the notes the surveyor takes will not mean much to you, but the maps they create of your property within its boundaries is invaluable. When you literally want to see the forest for the trees on your property, here is how surveying takes in the whole picture. 

Aerial Plotting

One type of surveyor's map looks topographical in nature. Elevations on your land are marked, showing where the land rises, falls, and/or becomes hilly or rocky. Every river, stream, tree, and natural feature is plotted. This map is generated only after the surveyor has taken time to measure the distances between every feature on your property. You can request a copy of this sort of map for your own records. It may also help you when you want to construct a fence on the borders of your property without encroaching on property that does not belong to you.

Feature Responsibility

When a surveyor plots things on your land, they note that certain features may present an issue at a future date. For example, a large tree that is partially growing out of your property and partially growing out of the next property over may end up being your responsibility to move. This tree has grown right up on the edges of two adjoining properties, but should it fall or become a nuisance, the surveyor's report establishes whose tree it is in terms of "ownership" and who should be removing it or cleaning it up. Other features of a similar issue include rocky outcroppings and muddy hills where slides are likely to occur.

Dividing the Property

Should you decide to divvy up your property in the future, the surveyor shows you right where it is most feasible and reasonable to do so. Maybe a property line is drawn at two edges of a creek. Maybe a property line snakes through a grove of trees. You will see it on the maps the surveyor makes for you upon your request.

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