Save Face

What Survey Plat Really Represents

Some people see a survey plat as an overpriced piece of paper but it’s not just a pretty picture. It represents hours spent reading moldy court records and digging through centuries of legal documents about a piece of land two people transferred back and forth….and back and forth. It represents the blood and sweat shed during days spent in the field in a seemingly endless search for property corners of the distant and not so distant past. Let’s not forget the hours spent compiling data, grumbling at field crew for busting a traverse (which mine never do by the way), interpreting deeds, head scratching, pencil throwing, and rants of profanity that all go into painting that “picture”.

You could compare a land surveyor’s plat to Joanna’s pieces of “Flair” in the movie Office Space. Do you just want to do the bare minimum, is it too much to ask for a few more pieces of “Flair” on your survey plat? A tie line to an adjoining monument used to help establish a boundary line, a crooked junky old fence that wiggles in and out along a boundary line, a creek, a witness marker to help me find a ½” tall iron rod in 2′ of leaf debris in the middle of the woods. Something!

Now I’m not saying that I’m the Rembrandt of the cartography world nor am I the Peter Messier of the land surveying profession, but I’d like to think that I paint a pretty good picture of what we find during the preparation of a survey. I do this not just for our clients benefit but also for the benefit of the “ME’s” of the future. To help the next poor guy that aspires to be a land surveyor find that ½” iron rod that was set in that pile of fence wire that just happens to be where the property corner was. Help them understand through your “art work” how in the world you came up with the opinion that you developed and felt comfortable enough to hang your professional hat on.

If you are a property owner and a surveyor is handing you the final product, take that plat, study it, reeeaaaaally look at it because if the picture is painted good enough you don’t have to be a surveyor or some attorney to understand it. And at the end of the day, this is in fact what you pay good money for. If you are new to the land surveying profession or a veteran in the game, paint that picture as complete as you can, channel that inner Bob Ross, and be proud of what you deliver. You may decide to wear just the bare minimum pieces of flair on your survey plats. Careful…you are just likely to get the same response that the Chotchkie’s manager got in Office space when the surveyors of the future are looking at your plats….