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Surveying without Math (Land Surveying)

by Kent McMillan @, Austin, TX, Tuesday, July 13, 2010, 22:00 (1786 days ago)

I'm still fascinated by the idea being bandied about that land surveyors should work without any of that pesky mathematics. I'm not sure where arithmetic fits into the grand scheme of things, but I suspect that it's "math" also.

So what would it be like to try to survey anything without arithmetic or mathematics? Just to make it a sporting proposition, let's assume that a system of numbers is available and maybe even that highly theoretical Arabic zero, but somehow fractions have a distinctly arithmetical ring that rhymes with "math".

"I began at the mailbox that Rufus Tompkins said was his SW corner and I walked for 248 paces in a Northerly direction to a big cedar post with a knot in it that reminded me of Elvis after he had discovered carbohydrates.

"Thence I walked 335 paces (I think, but the ground was soft and I may not have done a good job of pacing) to a stone about the size of a watermelon ..."

Maps would be a cinch to draw since nothing would need to be to scale. That would be too mathematical, of course.

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Best regards,
Kent McMillan, RPLS Austin TX

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Surveying without Math

by RADU @, Adelaide South Australia, Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 01:43 (1786 days ago) @ Kent McMillan

Kent I think that your President should wake up one morning and decree from that moment forth that lot perimeter fences become boundaries and where no fences if you can find a corner marker that becomes a corner and where no markers you simply agree with the first person to mark a corner.


No maths required, tear up the deeds and let all surveyors then go out and locate every bend and corner and create new lot parcels that are then recorded in central registries. Push buttons and cad negating maths.

Full time employment for surveyors, cigars and Mercedes Benz and title insurance companies out of business overnight...


RADU

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Surveying without Math

by Merlin, Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 04:58 (1785 days ago) @ RADU

It is a matter of definition as to what math is. In my opinion, almost everything has a semblance of math in it.

Having said that, where I started out surveying, almost every land survey was done with a hand held compass and cloth tape. We literally cruised the property and collected the information. At the office we would graphically plot the information with no calculations. Areas were via planimeter or putting a grid sheet over the sketch and counting squares.

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Surveying without Math

by Kent McMillan @, Austin, TX, Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 07:05 (1785 days ago) @ Merlin

[...] where I started out surveying, almost every land survey was done with a hand held compass and cloth tape. We literally cruised the property and collected the information. At the office we would graphically plot the information with no calculations. Areas were via planimeter or putting a grid sheet over the sketch and counting squares.

Now that is amazing. I assume that you're describing surveying practices in Maine in the late 1960's?

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Best regards,
Kent McMillan, RPLS Austin TX

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Surveying without Math

by Merlin, Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 08:01 (1785 days ago) @ Kent McMillan

And the 1970s.

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Surveying without Math

by Just Mapit @, Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 05:26 (1785 days ago) @ RADU

Then we could have another tier license...call it a "Curtilage Surveyor".:)

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If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z.
Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.
Albert Einstein

Craig B. Davenport LS,PLS

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Surveying without Math

by Kevin Samuel @, Bend, OR, Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 20:39 (1785 days ago) @ Kent McMillan

I think the nuance being glossed over in the topic du jour is how much reliance to put on mathematics vs. evidence. We get plenty of schooling on the mathematics and measurement, but the evidence part tends to come through apprenticeship and practice.

So surveyor X drew pretty maps so he created an "unrecorded subdivision" for his client by surveying a section and carving it up into nifty 5 acre tracts and wrote nice legal descriptions for each one, lets say 1950s or 1960s. Also looks like surveyor X or one of his crew members got tired, careless, lazy or just plain screwed up while setting the corner(s).

So do you rely on the monuments you find in the ground or ignore them if'n they don't fit, say +/- 2 ft. I think a competent surveyor works his damndest to use the monuments and other evidence he finds to fit that legal description onto the ground.

People on both sides of the argument typically try to oversimplify the problem.

I wouldn't blindly hold monuments just like I wouldn't blindly hold the geometry of the deed.

I heard a commercial on the radio about identity theft and the narrator said trying to put your life back together after you identity has been stolen is like trying to assemble a puzzle with pieces missing and the pieces you do have are either too big or small. Sure sounded like he had done some surveying to me!

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Surveying without Math

by Kent McMillan @, Austin, TX, Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 21:50 (1785 days ago) @ Kevin Samuel

I think the nuance being glossed over in the topic du jour is how much reliance to put on mathematics vs. evidence.

Well, the situation you're describing sounds like mainly one of conflicting evidence for boundary control, not some mathematical exercise, per se. That is, in the case you mention, it sounds as if the plat gives calls for course and distance that conflict with survey markers found on the ground, but the plat calls for no monuments.

So, the question is really what the monuments found on the ground are evidence of and which evidence, the plat or some marks of possibly unknown origin, will be held to control the boundary in question. I trust that it will be nearly universally conceded that the calls for course and distance that the platting surveyor gave are evidence of his intentions and that absent any monuments placed by him (or her), there would ordinarily be scant other evidence of the original operation by which the lots were created.

The significance of subsequently placed monuments varies with the law of the jurisdiction and other special circumstances that may or may not override the original plat.

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Best regards,
Kent McMillan, RPLS Austin TX

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Surveying without Math

by Kevin Samuel @, Bend, OR, Thursday, July 15, 2010, 05:50 (1784 days ago) @ Kent McMillan

My example stems from an actual project in this area and the map that the surveyor turned into the County Surveyor's office in the 1990s actually calls for the monuments in the ground but all conveyances were by deed. There was no jurisdictional approval or filing of an actual subdivision.

I would argue that even though in some cases the monuments have clearly been tampered with, an effort should be made to hold the monuments. I would suspect that the original owner saw that dandy map, saw the legal descriptions prepared from it and had no reason to expect that the monuments in the ground did not accurately depict what was on the map. Ultimately the intent of the surveyor is miniscule compared to the intent of the parties of the deed.

I don't want to really delve down the wormhole of how close is close enough, but I am just saying that each survey calls for its own recipe of evidence and mathematics in different proportions depending on history, location and a myriad of other factors.

Surveying without Math

by Richard Schaut, Thursday, July 15, 2010, 12:47 (1784 days ago) @ Kevin Samuel

The basic question is, what have the owners relied on to mark the limits of their occupation and control, and how long have they relied on that evidence.

Maps of what may have been intended do not control property lines forever.

Any 'monument', (read physical object), relied on by the owners is a valid 'monument', and it does not need to meet any surveyor's psuedo definition of 'monument'.

Richard Schaut

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Surveying without Math

by Kent McMillan @, Austin, TX, Thursday, July 15, 2010, 13:12 (1784 days ago) @ Kevin Samuel

My example stems from an actual project in this area and the map that the surveyor turned into the County Surveyor's office in the 1990s actually calls for the monuments in the ground but all conveyances were by deed. There was no jurisdictional approval or filing of an actual subdivision.

I would argue that even though in some cases the monuments have clearly been tampered with, an effort should be made to hold the monuments. I would suspect that the original owner saw that dandy map, saw the legal descriptions prepared from it and had no reason to expect that the monuments in the ground did not accurately depict what was on the map. Ultimately the intent of the surveyor is miniscule compared to the intent of the parties of the deed.

So the situation is that the actual conveyances of the lots were by metes and bounds descriptions that didn't call for any monuments? I trust that the descriptions did suggest by some means, though, that a survey had been made and that provides the hook that makes further evidence of that survey, although outside the writing, nonetheless a part of the construction of the description since that was clearly what the scrivener had in view.

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Best regards,
Kent McMillan, RPLS Austin TX

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Surveying without Math

by Kevin Samuel @, Bend, OR, Thursday, July 15, 2010, 20:10 (1784 days ago) @ Kent McMillan

You are correct Kent.

Most of the descriptions were titled with a site number that does correspond to maps. There is no specific reference to an index plat, map dates, etc.

The descriptions match the courses on the maps perfectly. The sites were field surveyed in phases, much like a subdivision would be.

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Surveying without Math

by Kent McMillan @, Austin, TX, Thursday, July 15, 2010, 20:28 (1784 days ago) @ Kevin Samuel

Most of the descriptions were titled with a site number that does correspond to maps. There is no specific reference to an index plat, map dates, etc.

The descriptions match the courses on the maps perfectly. The sites were field surveyed in phases, much like a subdivision would be.

Well, from my chair that bit of information is what would be sufficient for me to consider the map(s) of the survey(s) made prior to that conveyance and calling for the monuments as being evidence that was included by the mention of the site numbers in the deed, even if a bit indirectly.

I mean, what it sounds like the evidence shows is that:

a) the sites had been surveyed and marked upon the ground prior to the conveyance,
b) the description was obviously prepared with the map of the survey in view, but merely failed to mention the survey,
c) the fact that the site's boundaries had been surveyed and marked prior to the conveyance (and the use of the site number from the maps) raises the presumption that the buyer and seller had the markers established by that survey in view before them.

Given those facts, I'd call the monuments established by the original survey made prior to the conveyance, original.

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Best regards,
Kent McMillan, RPLS Austin TX

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Surveying without Math

by Kevin Samuel @, Bend, OR, Friday, July 16, 2010, 05:38 (1783 days ago) @ Kent McMillan

I agree Kent. It is just one of those places where the original monuments were not always firmly set. along with rocky ground, varying degrees of improvement and some fictitious corners (easily distinguishable by the type of rebar used). My point was simply that holding any monument or occupation line in this area is dangerous without the math, just like the geometry of the deed would result in pin cushions galore if one were to only hold the deed. Just good old fashioned surveying I suppose :-)

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