Error Free Land Surveyors

Re: Expecting Land Surveyors to be error free

Of course, the subject line has a ludicrous statement, no manager expects any employee to be error free, in fact for new employees with little experience it is expected. That is part of the learning process. We also know that the new inexperienced employee needs a much closer and watchful eye and has not developed the skill set to be diligent on every survey.

A Land Surveyor with at least several years of experience is also not error free, but the difference with the Surveyor with experience and honesty, is that they are diligent and extremely consciousness. The experienced and mindful Land Surveyor thinks and rethinks before pulling his truck away from the Survey. For it is not about errors that he is thinking about, it is about if they have met the clients job specifications. Have they surveyed every area of interest, has the Survey extended past the specified distance, normally 25; feet for topo, 5 feet for an ALTA survey. Was there a locked gate and is a survey issue inside. Was a part of the building inaccessible? Did I get that roof height? This state requires all water courses to be located through the property or adjacent the boundary. Did I search enough for the Geodetic monument for the regulation tie?

In fact, it is normally not an issue about being error free. It is always an issue of OMMISSION!

And omission is not about an error, but about completeness of the Survey. Was that Encroachment over looked? I have said for years that if the field surveyor questions to himself an encroachment, then that is the Surveyors clue that it is mandatory that the potential encroachment be located. Of course the encroachment that you always question is the one where the property line is obscured, by trees or brush or in some cases, you may be in a concrete canyon and feel it necessary to locate every building corner, especially if the boundary has not yet been determined and/or you cannot do a stake out, or point on line to the boundary.

Exploring the difference between errors and omissions on our surveys is a lengthy discussion. But thank goodness the days are over, that require us to set a monument at our boundary corner using a scientific calculator.

With our robots, GPS and software the risk of a potential faulty boundary corner is fairly low, unless you just flat get the boundary wrong. We like for even the junior surveyor as well as the seasoned surveyor to calculate boundaries and the Licensed Land Surveyor calculate the final boundary, You will be surprised how many times the junior surveyors are correct, of course this gives them immense confidence, when the PLS agrees with them.

Given that it is impossible and not a requirement that every Survey site be inspected by the signing PLS.

Diligence by the field surveyor is the absolute difference between a great survey and a survey that you are likely to be terminated by the client or at least have complaints. This remains the most difficult task of every survey. Diligence and elimination of Omissions really revolves around pure honesty. Did you walk the survey the last time? Was there a reason you left early? Was there pressure from home? Why did you not set in the truck and review all your field notes and think about the possibility that somewhere on that survey something was missed. Why did you not seek out to get that gate unlocked and if met with that obstacle, why did you not call the office and speak to your superior about it?

To my fellow Surveyor, are you being honest with yourself and your company? Are you doing everything you can to provide the best diligence to your survey as well as communicating problems? If you are not, you are setting you and your company up for failure with your client. Failure is something we can least afford with those that are responsible for our paycheck.

Michael F. Feldbusch, PLS

U.S. Surveyor

The above is an article that recently appeared in the publication ” American Surveyor”