Q: Where do I find Records of Survey?
A: Plats of property are and have been recorded in "Plat Books" kept in the county the property is located in. These plat books are stored in the records of the Clerk of Superior Court located in the County Court house. Some older plats were recorded in Deed Books, and some were recorded in the Probate Court's record books. The Georgia Superior Court Clerk's Cooperative Authority now displays (www.gsccca.org) all plats submitted today on their web site. Many counties are going back and scanning the older plats in the plat books, and adding them to the Clerk's web site. Surveyors are required to submit digital copies of all plats today for recording, along with paper copies. Some really old records may only be found in the Georgia Archives in Atlanta. Plats are sometimes indexed in the Grantor indexes in the Clerk's records and some counties have "Plat Book Indexes". Thank you for the question and if you need some help, give us a call.
Q: MY FENCE HAS BEEN IN POSITION FOR OVER 20 YEARS. BUT A NEIGHBORS SURVEY PLACES IT SEVERAL FEET INTO THEIR YARD. ISN'T THERE A LAW THAT SAYS THE FENCE IS THE BOUNDARY AFTER SO MANY YEARS?
A: The process you are referring to is called "adverse possession". This process has several characteristics that have to be met so title to the property can be claimed. The claim to the land has to be continuous, hostile, open, and not permissive. Taking title to property by "adverse possession" is not as easy as it may sound, but t it does happen. The process takes 20 years without a deed. Taking title to property by "adverse possession "is a complex issue and should be discussed with your surveyor and more than likely your attorney's advice on how to perfect the title would be needed as well. I appreciate the question.
Q: What if I disagree with a survey that has been done by another company?
A: Surveyors do not establish property lines, people do , by their acceptance or rejection of the lines that are marked and claimed by adjacent landowners. Property title or ownership is a very complex subject. Property boundary disputes have been going on for centuries. If you do not agree with where a surveyor may mark your property line, I would first contact that surveyor, and ask them to explain the basis for where they marked the line. That explanation may clear up the problem. If after meeting with the surveyor who marked the line, you still have disagreement, you may want to consult another surveyor and ask his opinion. He will need all of your plats, and the neighbor's plats. There could still be some technical misunderstanding that your surveyor could better explain. If your surveyor agrees with you that there is a problem with where the first surveyor marked the line, I would suggest that all parties meet and try to resolve the problem , possibly with a compromise. If there is too much difference in the two solutions, it may be time for you and your surveyor to consult an attorney. The differences may be from a title issue that occurred many years earlier, or it could be an adverse claim on your property, or it could be that some errors were made on the earlier surveys of your property, or the adjacent owner's property. In most instances I would advise you to try to work through the differences by compromise , but if that is not a possible solution, you may end up in court trying to let a judge and jury decide who actually has title to the land in question. Going to court can be very expensive, time consuming, and taxing on the parties involved, and you have no guarantee you will win the dispute.
Q: Are subdivision lots typically marked on all four corners with some sort of monument or is it just the subdivision as a whole? I have two iron fence posts marking the front of my lot but the back of my lot is in the woods. Would there typically be any markings or monuments located there?
It is a requirement in the State of Georgia that property corners be marked with monuments of a permanent material. Surveyors use various materials for monuments, but normally in subdivisions iron pins, usually re-bar, are placed at the corners. The current law requires that the iron pins be at least 1/2" in diameter and have a plastic cap placed on top of the rebar bearing the name and registration number of the surveyor who placed the pin. Most of the time, the iron pins are not left sticking up very much above the ground in subdivisions, so they will not be hit by lawn mowers and destroyed. If some of the corners are in the woods, they should still be monumented with iron corners or sometimes concrete monuments are placed. If you cannot easily find the corners, that does not necessarily mean they are not there. They could be below grade, or just hidden by brush. Surveyors can usually find them if they are there using the various tools they have. If the corner has been destroyed, the Surveyor can take the plat of record, and with his tools , replace the missing corner.
Q: Do you need to have a survey done in order to install a pool?
You would not absolutely need to have a survey done to install a pool. If the pool is going to be near a side or rear property line, you would want to meet any required setbacks and you may need to have your property lines marked in order to be certain about the setbacks. You may also need some topographic information before locating the pool on your property to be certain you will not be creating any drainage problems around the pool. You would also need to have all the underground utilities located before digging where the pool would be placed.
Q: What type of survey do I have to have in order to build a fence?
If you can identify your existing property corners you may not need a survey. It would be prudent to verify the points that you think are your property corners before erecting the fence. A professional surveyor will get a copy of the plat that depicts your property and make sufficient measurements to find , verify, or replace your property corrners. The surveyor may not have to draw a new plat of your property to do this, if the plat of record is sufficient. If the plat of record is real old, and the plat does not accurately describe your property, it may be a good time to get the corners marked, have a new plat created, and clear up any discrepencies that may exist with your adjacent owners' plats. It would be better to know and clear up any problems now that after you have erected the fence, potentially in the wrong location. It would also be a good idea to have your property corners found and verified if the neighbor is the one putting up the fence. You could possibly share the cost of the survey. An encroaching fence can cause problems when you try to sell your lot.
Q: What is the typical charge to have a small lot surveyed in order to install fencing?
A: The cost will vary, depending on how old the previous survey of the lot is. If the lot is in a newer subdivision (10 years or less), the cost will be a lot less than a lot that may be in an older area where the lot may have been created 50 years ago, and has not been resurveyed since. We sometimes are asked to find lot corners on small lots that were created 75 years ago, and the original lot corners may have been wooden stakes. These jobs take a lot of research and may require having to survey many adjacent properties to find a property corner to start measuring from. The best situation would cost a couple of hundred dollars and the more difficult situations could be several times that.
Q: Are you able to put a fence perpendicular to a neighbors fence? Do we have to have any type of survey to get this approved?
A: It would be wise to have your property corners found and verified by a Registered Land Surveyor pryor to putting up a fence or any other improvements to your property. If you were to tie perpendicular to your neighbors fence, it would be wise not to cross the property line to tie into your neighbor's fence, especially if your neighbor's fence were set back on their side of the property line. By crossing the line to tie to your neighbor's fence you would be encroaching onto their property, and could also begin adverse title should the fence remain there and you begin to use the area all the way to the neighbor's fence for a long period of time. You could prevent the encroachment and adverse title from beginning by getting written permission from the neighbor to tie to their fence.
Q: Do you need to have a survey done in order to sell a home?
A: The anwer could be yes and no. You do not necessarily have to have a new survey done to sell an existing home. You could close on the original subdivision survey of the lot in question. Do you need a new survey? Your buyer's lender may require a new survey in order to make the loan, or your buyer may just want to have the corners of the lot found and flagged so they can see what they are buying and to be certain that there are no encroachment problems. The responsibility of who has the work done can be negotiated in the sales contract.
Q: What happens if a land surveyor has lost paperwork pertaining to your land?
A: Most final surveys are recorded in the Clerk of Superior Court's records. Not all plats get recorded. If you have a survey done, it is a good idea to have it recorded. Most records are now stored electronically, so even if the paper copy of the plat has been lost from the books in the Clerk of Court's office, you may be able to get another copy from the electronic files that the Clerk may have . If the plat was not recorded, and the surveyor has lost the paperwork, you may have to have a new survey done.
Q: Do you need to have your land surveyed before you build an addition?
A: There could be several situations that possibly could require that you at least have your property corners and property lines located. It may be that the building inspector would want to see the property line to be certain you are meeting the building setback requirements for the addition. Your lender , if there is one involved in the addition, may want to have an updated plat showing the new addition. If neither the building inspector or lender is involved, you may want to flag the lines for your own benefit, to be certain you do not build the addition over the property line. If you are adding to a home on a lot with several acres, and you are no where near the property lines, you may not need to survey, unless the lender were to require it.