residential property - certificate of land survey map
BASIC LAND SURVEY SERVICE - The basic problem in land surveying is
two-fold. Either a new property line is created or an existing property line is discovered.

Creating a new property line is straightforward. The land owner creates the new line with
approval from the local land use officer, typically the city planning department. This
process is called subdivision of a larger land parcel or platting.

Discovering an existing property line is not straightforward. It requires a stepwise effort.
First, evidence of the property line is found, which includes paper and electronic
information such as deeds, maps, and plats. It also includes physical evidence of the
property line, such as land monuments often old iron pipes, which physically mark the
property line. Ancient buildings, walls, fences, and roads may provide physical evidence
as well, and may themselves become land monuments. Oral evidence of the property
lines by the land owners may be considered too. The second step is to evaluate, analyze,
and hypothesize where the property line may be lying on the ground. The third step is to
form a professionally derived opinion, based on evidence, analyses, and laws governing
real estate and land boundaries. The opinion answers the question - "Where is the true
property line on the ground? "

Discovery of this line on the ground can only be made with confidence by a land surveyor
licensed and well versed in property line surveying and the laws governing the location of
property lines.
These property lines are preserved by old markers on the land
PROPERTY LINES ISSUES - Many properties have problems with improper bounding lines, miscalculations in
past surveys, titles, and easements. Also many properties are created from multiple divisions of a larger land parcel
over many years.  With every additional division of land, risk of miscalculation increases. The result can be abutting
properties not fitting together properly, resulting in hiatuses (gaps) and overlaps. The art of land surveying comes in
when the licensed land surveyor must solve this puzzle, using land parcels that do not exactly fit together seamlessly. In
these cases the property line solution is based upon research and interpretation by the land surveyor, following legally
established procedures for resolving property line discrepancies.
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Summary of paper published in 1881 by Michigan Association of Surveyors and Civil
Engineers - Referenced in numerous Supreme Court cases on land disputes

Our state lands were surveyed and permanent monuments fixed to determine boundaries for future proprietors. The
United States, original land owner, caused land to be surveyed by sworn officers, plan of subdivision simple and uniform
over a large territory.  There should have been few mistakes and long rows of monuments as perfect guides to place
where any monuments became lost. The truth is lines were carelessly run and monuments inaccurately placed. Often
when monuments were not correctly placed, it’s impossible to determine by their record and aid of anything on the
ground where the monument was originally located. The incorrect record of their location is worse than useless when
where any monuments became lost. The truth is lines were carelessly run and monuments inaccurately placed. Often
monument witness trees also disappear.

We assume town plats are accurately surveyed, because it was not difficult making the plats perfect for practical
purposes. Many plats were laid out in woods by proprietors themselves without tape or compass, or by poorly trained
surveyors, who didn’t appreciate correct boundaries. In fact, town surveys are just as inaccurate as surveys made
under authority of the United States.

FINDING LOST CORNERS - Disputing parties call a surveyor, who’s duty is finding, hopefully, original stakes which
determine boundary lines between proprietors. Even with some original surveys containing errors, monuments set by
the survey will govern property location. Proprieters purchased their lands by reference to these monuments, and they
are entitled to the land within their boundary lines, no more or no less. If witness trees are discovered, they help point to
the location of monuments.  But when the trees are lost, along with record evidence of monuments in error, some
surveyors think that with original monuments lost, the surveyor simply places new monuments where the old original
monuments were presumed to have been set - or should have been set (assuming no error in the original survey).  This
is a BIG mistake. The real problem for surveyors is determining with best evidence where original boundary lines were
actually located.
Purchasers of land from the US government bought land within originally surveyed boundaries, where they owned up to
these boundaries up to time monuments became lost. If the monument was set with error, it still determined extent of
land purchased.

LOST CORNERS - A proprietor doesn’t lose title to land or parts thereof because evidence is lost or uncertain. The
proprietor has more difficulty establishing title, but right to title remains in the proprietor unless others have better
evidence of title. Notwithstanding loss of all traces of a monument, there’s usually evidence available to help the
surveyor determine with almost certainty where the original boundary line was located between government subdivisions.
A lost monument can physically disappear.  Where actual location of monument is lost, including reliable evidence of
location lost too, we presume the corner was correctly fixed by government survey where field notes indicated it fixed.  
But this may be a faulty presumption, defeated by other evidence indicating the monument placed elsewhere.  

Property rights are governed by the original surveys and the laws that governed those surveys.  This is true, because
land was bought in reference to the survey. Where lines are disputed, unless parties settle controversy by agreement,
determination of disputed lines is a judicial function based on evidence upon judicial hearing.

POSSESSION - The surveyor can’t assume a monument is lost until all the evidence is considered, and the monument
untraceable.  Here, the surveyor should do nothing to disturb settled possessions. Occupation, especially long
continued, is satisfactory evidence of an original boundary when no other evidence of a boundary is available. The
surveyor should investigate when the boundary originated, how and why it originated, and if claim of title was always
linked to possession. The surveyor should give these facts force of evidence of boundary location. Unfortunately, some
surveyors disregard evidence of occupation and claim of title, plunging neighborhoods into litigation, when they
establish corners where previous occupation is thrown into disharmony. Frequently, when a land corner is lost,
proprietors have acquiesced to a property line traceable to other corners or landmarks, which might have been or may
not have been trusted.  However, to discredit these property lines when the acquiesced proprietors have not questioned
them creates trouble in a neighborhood.  In a legal action law and common sense will declare supposed boundary lines
of long acquiesce to be better evidence of where real property lines should be, opposed to more recent surveys made
long after original monuments disappeared.

Neglecting possession is seen in cities, where lot stakes disappear, witness marks disappear, monuments to guide
future surveys disappear, leaving other monuments remaining at original monument locations or places where original
monuments were supposedly placed. Soon after the original survey, streets are marked off by fences, and lots
measured from these fences fixing replacement monuments at lots without further inquiry.

Perhaps a certain monument remaining was starting point in original survey of the town plat, or another point was
central point of the town.  A surveyor may assume town plat accurate, lay out streets and lots according to plat
measurements, thereby unsettling all lines and monuments in town, creating chaos and controversy. It conflicts with
streets acquiesced and used a long time, also relied on to lay out lots. The surveyor makes a highly accurate survey,
although original survey may be very inaccurate. The surveyor announces the street line wrong, all fences wrong, all to
be moved 1 foot over. The surveyor sets new stakes away from practical boundary locations, which are ignored. But lot
owners will likely ignore the surveyor, who ignores possession of land.  

FIXING LINES BY ACQUIESCENCE - Property lines can be fixed by acquiescence in less than twenty years. There’s no
time required to conclude private owners, where they have accepted a particular line as their boundary, where all
parties claim to it. Public policy requires such lines not be disturbed, especially after considerable time. A litigant
claiming against these lines places their faith on a surveyor who ignores possession lines, who’s faulty judgement will be
likely impeached in Court.
The surveyor should express an opinion that original monuments were in one place, while the surveyor is also satisfied
acquiescence has fixed property rights, as if monuments were in another place. The surveyor would do harm to settled
rights, if monuments were set knowing they would disturb settled property rights. The surveyor’s should only offer an
opinion where monuments should be placed, allowing parties to settle their own boundary lines. Acquiescence in a
particular line or monument for considerable time is strong and conclusive evidence of settlement by acquiescense of a
property line.

DUTY OF THE SURVEYOR - The surveyor must seek original monuments or places where they were originally set,
using them to control boundary locations if they are found. An exception is where the surveyor believes agreements
express or implied were made by land owners to fix boundaries, thereby rendering original monuments not important.

If original monuments are lost, their locations are based on evidence merely. The surveyor must consider all facts,
giving priority to acts of interested parties, always understanding neither the surveyor’s opinion or survey are conclusive
upon parties.  Further, surveyor must understand judges and juries may follow surveyor over the same ground.  So, its
important a surveyor’s conduct be governed by the same rules governing land courts.

When land corners become lost, surveyors may be mediators between parties, preventing legal controversy by settling
doubtful property lines. If surveyors get agreements, where parties carry out agreements by accepting surveyors lines,
mediation will conclude the problem.  Its best agreements are in writing, although not fatal to agreement.
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precision instrument.
Certificate of Survey map
property lines, current site conditions and features
Certificate of Survey map
property lines and subdivision of 5 acres in Gov't Section
Certificate of Survey map
lot split subdivision of one land parcel into two new land parcels A & B
Certified land map showing property lines
land monuments are in the ground marking these property lines