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Cadastre or Boundary Survey

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Hello All,

I am sure this was asked at sometime, but I was not able to read through all of the topic in the search. 

What is the difference between a Cadastre Survey and a Boundary Survey?

From what I am reading the Cadastre Survey is the official map for real estate and apportioning taxes. This would be in the Auditor's Office in Iowa. Is this type of survey also the GLO of BLM surveys?

A Boundary Survey locates or establishes the boundary line between real property. This is a Plat of Survey or Retracement Survey, correct?



Posted : November 10, 2022 8:12 am
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I just looked at the definition of cadastral, and it’s not exactly what I thought. I would consider Mortgage Lot Surveys to be Cadastral Surveys. A Boundary Survey of any lot in a Platted Subdivision would be a Cadastral Survey. Metes and Bounds Surveys all determined around the same time and/or with any uniformity in their shape and construction would be Cadastral Surveys. If you are determining the boundary by you surveying it, then it’s not a Cadastral Survey. If it’s never been surveyed, it may not be a Cadastral Survey. If you are surveying what left, that’s not a Cadastral survey. Like they say, “I don’t know how to define a Cadastral Survey, but I know one when I see one.”

Posted : November 10, 2022 12:10 pm
Norm Miller
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Hey Mr. Dan

You always come up with good questions. 

CADASTRAL SURVEY (BLM definition)– A survey which creates, marks, defines, retraces or reestablishes the boundaries and subdivisions of the public land of the United States.

If there is a difference, I would say it is surveying the framework or controlling corners for boundaries. PLSS lines in our case. The cornerstone surveys we did years ago I would consider cadastral. They didn't address where private boundaries were located although we did need to locate them in order to re-set obliterated PLSS corner sometimes.  


This post was modified 3 weeks ago by Norm Miller
Posted : November 10, 2022 3:00 pm

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Let me see if I can repeat this back to you guys.

A Cadastral Survey lays out the a township and the sections. A Cadastral Survey could also lay out the exterior of a subdivision and the interior lots.

A Boundary Survey would locate or establish a lot line on the ground to show the boundary between two owners. 

I can go out and locate the west line of the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter which was originally a cadastre survey, but since the corners were not mark on the ground I will be completing a boundary survey to set the northwest and southwest corners of said 40 acre. 

Am I close?

Posted : November 10, 2022 4:18 pm
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It’s a good question. IMHO what defines a ‘Cadastral’ survey is the original survey of public lands to create original boundaries by either the State or Federal government that subsequent boundary surveys will rely upon to further breakdown lands for conveyance and management purposes and would be considered ‘original’ surveys. The ‘Cadaster’ is the frame work on which the subsequent division of lands is based. Not necessarily PLSS townships, they can involve large tracts involving thousands of acres that have yet to be broken down by township and section. In Alaska the State is still awaiting conveyance of Federal lands that first must be surveyed. The BLM Cadastral survey might involve a large remote tract that the State, after receiving patent, could then perform a Cadastral survey to further breakdown for conveyance purposes. As it stands much of that remaining land selected by the state is TA’d or Tentatively Approved’, which means it can’t be conveyed until a Cadastral Survey has been done and approved. The patent would then reference the approved plat for the legal description.

Posted : November 10, 2022 7:07 pm
holy cow
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To me, cadastral surveying involves finding and setting corners that impact far more than a single tract.  Multiple small tracts may be controlled by the locations determined by the cadastral survey.

Using the PLSS as an example, determining the location of the south quarter corner of a section (whether found in existence or set by some method) has a direct influence on all tracts in the entire section to the north and the entire section to the south.

Determining a single lot corner in a subdivision may only impact that lot where the adjoiner is a street or alley or both.

Posted : November 10, 2022 7:55 pm

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I don't see that there is a difference.  Both are studying the limits of land ownership.

Posted : November 10, 2022 8:52 pm
Dave Karoly reacted
Jim in AZ
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The BLM definition restricts the term to the survey of the boundaries of Public Lands.

Posted : November 11, 2022 7:22 am
Williwaw reacted