Surveying: Up Close and Personal with the Land

If you have ever had the pleasure of driving on a midnight-darkened road out in the countryside, you know the feeling of not being able to see the next curve, the next deer that will collide with your car, or the depth of that ravine just off the edge of the road. It is a risky venture and you have to use all your senses on hyper-alert setting to get to your destination.

Not having any idea where property lines are, where the utilities run, where there is an oil-pipeline easement, or a neighbor’s driveway encroaching on your land is a bit like that drive through the dark. Obstacles can rise up before you and whip the living daylights out of you before you know what happened. THAT, my friends, is the reason civilization invented surveyors. Before you take out that fence, build that pool, or pave that driveway, you really, really need to know the facts about your property.

Here is a good blog on the topic ’10 reasons to have your property surveyed’. If you are buying property using a loan from a bank or mortgage company, they want to protect their investment by having an up-to-date survey before they will let you borrow that money. If you are buying property with cash, you could skip that survey step, but I don’t recommend it.

A couple of years ago, we had surveyors come and map the boundaries of our property so that we could see which trees are ours and which are our neighbors’. We have many live oaks which are a treasure and must be properly cared for to help them outwit Oak Wilt. And we needed to see which storm damage is ours to trim. It is one thing to understand a plat on a piece of paper and quite another to translate that into lines on the ground, through creeks, under brambles, and across expanses of tall grass.

Prickly Pear
Why surveyors wear boots and jeans

Our survey was done in February, but no matter the time of year, here’s what surveyors wear: long-sleeved shirt to protect from brambles and prickly pear, hat to protect from sun and branches, heavy boots to wade through wetlands and deflect rattlesnakes. We have all these on our property, for sure.

Here are some pictures of a few of our survey stakes. Our property line crosses the creek several times, but then, the creek has likely changed course since the land was subdivided from a ranch. One part of our property is on the neighbors’ side of a natural boundary; looking at the patch of ground, you’d swear it belongs to the next house over, but nope, it’s ours.

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