Welcome to Auburn Land Surveying

Auburn Land Surveying website

This site is intended to provide you with information on Land Surveying in the Auburn and Opelika, AL plus the Lee County and surrounding areas of Alabama. If you’re looking for an Auburn Land Surveyor, you’ve come to the right site. If you’d rather talk to someone about your land surveying needs, please call  us at (334) 826-9540 today. For more information, please continue to read.

Auburn land surveying

Land Surveyors are professionals who measure and make precise measurements to determine the size and boundaries of a piece of real estate.  While this is a simplistic definition, boundary surveying is one of the most common types of surveying related to home and land owners. If you fall into the following categories, please click on the appropriate link for more information on that subject:

Auburn Land Surveying services:

  1. I need to know where my property corners or property lines are. (Boundary Survey)
  2. I have a loan closing or re-finance coming up on my home in a subdivision. (Lot Survey)
  3. I need a map of my property with contour lines to show elevation differences for my architect or engineer. (Topo Survey)
  4. I’ve just been told I’m in a flood zone or I ‘ve been told I need an elevation certificate in order to obtain flood insurance or prove I don’t need it. (Flood Survey)
  5. I’m purchasing a lot/house in a recorded subdivision. (Lot Survey – See Boundary Survey)
  6. I’m purchasing a larger tract of land, acreage, that hasn’t been subdivided in the past. (Boundary Survey)
  7. I need to get some location and grades set on a construction project. (Construction Survey )
  8. I need a survey of a commercial or multi-family site that meets the ALTA Land Title Survey requirements. (ALTA Survey)

Contact Auburn Land Surveying Now.

Using GPS to Track You – Is It Real?

gps tracking

photo courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Many have heard of “Big Brother” being able to track our movements. One of my favorite TV shows is “Person of Interest” where a secret machine keeps track of all conversations and people’s “criminal intent” in order to help the heroes stop the crimes before they happen.

While I’m SURE that there are tracking capabilities in most cell phones and different government agencies CAN track our locations, we might be a ways away them being able to determine criminal intent. But there IS a recent application in England that I found very interesting.

Nestle (yes, the chocolate company) is placing GPS Trackers in six KIT KAT bars in their aptly named “We’ll Find You” marketing campaign in the UK. When the person opens the package it notifies KIT KAT and the prize delivery team will find them within 24 hours and present them with a check for £10,000 (about $16,000.) See the article here.

Just about all new type cell phones, all smart phones, iPads and other tablets, lots of cars (more than you think), public transportation vehicles, golf carts, and watches have GPS devices in them now days. Another place they are, and rightly so, are in ankle monitors used by law enforcement.

But, what you might not realize is that the electronic devices mentioned above can work just like the ankle monitor. Now, while it is true that you can disable the GPS tracking device in your cell phone or tablet, that doesn’t give all of us complete comfort in walking around with these devices on us.

Now, I’m not trying to be a conspiracy wonk here, but it is POSSIBLE that this could be taken advantage of by well-meaning agencies. And, as we know, law enforcement can make mistakes in identifying the correct suspect. Of course, we WANT emergency services to be able to find us if and when we need their service, so this is a double edged sword. Most of us probably have nothing to worry about in this regard, but if you worry about this sort of thing, it could keep you up at night.

Even as a licensed land surveyor, having used GPS technology in land surveying for almost 20 years, I still trust them more than I should. One example is when I was in an unfamiliar town my GPS navigation device told me to take a “road” to the right. I slowed down and attempted to turn but it was a power line.

Not wanting to believe that Gizell was wrong (yes I named her), I went to the next street and turned and tried to find the “road” further back. I ended up driving down the sandy power line, which turned into a bike lane until I was finally stopped by a gate. As I backed down the bike lane looking for a turn-around spot I thought, “maybe this wasn’t a road and maybe my GPS device is fallible.” Of course, I soon justified Gizell by recalling that a human had to “digitize” the roads in and she just did what they programmed her to do.

If you need to turn off your GPS tracking device in order to sleep tonight, call your device’s customer service line and stay away from KIT KAT bars. If you would like to find out how GPS surveying technology can help you in surveying your property boundary, call a Licensed Land Surveyor at Auburn Land Surveying at (334) 826-9540.

How Important is Land Surveying in Today’s World?

land surveying

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Most of you have probably never thought about land surveying until you needed it at some point. Many of us hear about land surveying all the time but never really gave it much thought. Since an investment in land and/or a home will likely be the largest investment you will ever make in your lifetime, knowing where your property lines are becomes very important indeed.

The art of land surveying was developed centuries ago. In fact, it’s one of the oldest professions in the world. The fact that it was used by man at such an early time and is still being used now shows how important surveying is to our survival.

Surveying land has many uses. Boundary surveying, for instance, allows you to know where your property corners or property lines are. This is especially helpful when disputes with a neighbour or with other people arise in terms of where your property ends.

If your family wants to divide a tract of land and transfer ownership to other family members, a boundary survey is the first step to do so. If you’re having a building constructed, it is very important that you have the land surveyed to make sure that you are not encroaching onto other peoples’ property. A mistaken building location is very expensive to fix so you might as well invest in a boundary survey to prevent this.

A topographic survey, or topo survey for short, is another important type of land surveying. A topo survey is done to locate natural and man-made features on a particular parcel of land. A topographic survey is different in that the elevation of the land is surveyed which means it can show man-made underground features, retaining walls, utility lines and etc.

Before you start any kind of construction activity, it’s important to have a topo survey done in the area so they’ll have an accurate record of the land’s existing conditions. Yes, that spot with the new mall in the neighbourhood had to have a topo survey done first.

Now, a flood survey or flood determination – this is very important too. It isn’t evident just looking at a property whether you are at risk of flooding or not. And, in some cases, even looking at the flood maps doesn’t give you an accurate answer. The flood survey determines the elevation of the home and compares that to the base flood elevation. This is the only way to be sure you’re not in a flood hazard zone.

If you’ve just been told that you live in a flood-prone area, having that confirmed by a professional land surveyor would let you know how to best proceed.

When getting flood insurance, insurance companies would require an elevation certificate from you. A land surveyor would be able to assist you with this.

If a company wants to invest in another state, or if there is a national lender on a commercial project, they will likely need an ALTA Land Title Survey done before anything is constructed. An ALTA Land Title Survey is a lot like a regular boundary survey except that nationally accepted ALTA Standards are used to guide the surveying effort.

Land surveying standards vary widely from state to state and an ALTA Land Title Survey is used to cut down on this variation. Also, an ALTA Land Title Survey typically is more involved than the state standards variety. Because of this, an ALTA survey can be more anywhere from 50% to 200% more expensive than using the state standards only. If you need this type of survey, I suggest seeking an experienced land surveying company who is familiar with these additional requirements.

In summary, there are many uses for a land survey and for seeking the services of a land surveyor. If you’re unsure of your situation, consult Auburn Land Surveying at (334) 826-9540 today or go to the Contact page and send us an email.

Land Surveying: Estimating the Cost

Land surveying, in short, is the art and science of establishing or re-establishing property corners, property lines and/or boundaries. There could be different reasons why someone wants a piece of land surveyed. Probably the most common is to evaluate if a piece of land is susceptible to flooding, to subdivide real estate to sell or deed to members of the family as well as to know if there are any encroachments. This could happen if a neighbour disputes that you’re using a part of his lot or viceversa (for more on this, read this page).

Cost of Land Surveying

If you need to have a piece of land surveyed, first thing may come to mind is “how much would it cost?”There are many factors determining how much land surveying for your land would cost. The fact that this type of service has to be done by an expert contributes a great deal to the total cost of the service, but choosing a non-professional to survey your land is dangerous, and in all likelihood illegal for the non-professional. This is why you ought to take a good look around before settling with a surveying company. If you must work inside a particular budget, discuss this with the surveyor up-front. Often he might manage to offer cost saving steps to get the work you need done within these cost limits.

The shape of the land must also be considered. A square or a rectangle piece of land is somewhat easier to survey than an odd shaped parcel, or one with a lot of sides. With the latter, the surveyor is required to spend more time in surveying the curves as well as the bends which means the cost of the service would increase. The overall measurements the land is also key factor here. Remember, the cost of land surveying is usually proportionate to the time and effort that a land surveyor would spend on the project.

If the land that you’re having surveyed isn’t accessible, or has thick vegetation, then the total price of the survey could go higher.

This is true of the varying weather conditions which might affect the work. Surveying in warm weather is sort of slower to keep from putting the crew members in danger. Also, most surveying can’t be done during the rain.
When requesting for a quote, bear in mind surveyors base the estimate on expected conditions at the site. These conditions could change, leading to additional costs. Always ask about these potential additional cost scenarios.
All that being said, competitive prices are also to be expected, which is why we recommend choosing a surveyor based upon his experience and reputation instead of on the price he writes on a piece of paper.

Most times it is far better to shell out a good amount of money on a survey that’s well-done rather than pick a company with a very “affordable” price but have the survey repeated because the results were wrong.
In conclusion, always discuss the costs of the survey before you ask the surveyor to begin his work. You should also obtain a contract that lets you know what is expected of the land surveyor. This is one of the most important steps in having your land surveyed.

Land Surveying: Ethics of a Land Surveyor

land surveyingNot many people realize that land surveying is actually a fusion of art and science. Yes, different equipment is available for the surveyor’s use, but the land surveyor still has the last say on the results. Despite this, though, a land surveyor still has several guidelines to follow. If you’ve had an experience with a dishonest surveyor, or are wary about hiring one, this article should help you out. Here are some key rules that all good surveyors should follow.

A surveyor should always start a project with fairness in mind. The client, as well as every party involved in the project, is expecting the surveyor to be fair and just; so the surveyor must make the best possible assessment with the evidence handed to him or her.

Before a project commences, the surveyor assigned to the project should come forward if there’s a possibility of conflict of interest. This is very important to preserve the relationship with the client. A surveyor should avoid professional impropriety by declaring involvement or any prior affiliations with any of the involved parties. It is also the surveyor’s responsibility to keep any information regarding the project, as well as the client, confidential even after the project is done.

Several cases have been reported where the surveyor overcharged the client. This usually happens when the client doesn’t know anything about land surveying. A land surveyor running his business with ethics will never do this. Fortunately, there are more honest land surveyors than dishonest ones.

The cost that a surveyor charges for a project should be based on both the technical complexity of the project and the amount of time needed to complete it. For the surveyor’s sake, as well as that of the client, the surveyor should never sign plans, certificates or reports unless these are personally supervised by him. Not only is this unfair to the client, but doing so could put the surveyor’s reputation in danger, should the results be disputed and he doesn’t know anything about them.

Just as in other industries, a land surveyor should never denigrate the capability of other surveyors or the people from the land surveying industry.

New technologies come up for land surveying all the time. When a surveyor knows that a project is beyond his skills, he should tell the client. There’s no sense accepting a project only to come up with a subpar result. It will only hurt the surveyor’s business and reputation.

Surveyors should also be responsible enough to study, thoroughly research, practice and utilize new techniques before offering clients a new service. If a surveyor is new to flood determination, for instance, then he needs to make sure that he knows how to perform it before offering it to his clients.

Surveyors do not work alone. They usually have a staff to support them. The land surveyor needs to be responsible for all actions or work carried out by his staff as well as his own.

For your land surveying needs, call Auburn Land Surveying at (334) 826-9540 or send us a message by going here.

History of Land Surveying

land surveyingLand surveying is about the oldest professions in the world. Ever since man has decided that a part of land should belong to a tribe, the demand for surveying began.

Land surveying is fascinating. The techniques used seek to decide which part of land belongs to whom, hopefully ending arguments permanently.

In a nutshell, surveying is a process using mathematical ways to survey land.

The first accounts of surveying land goes back to ancient Egypt. Experts have discovered evidences which the ancient Egyptians used basic geometry to redraw the lines of boundary once the Nile River overflowed. An Egyptian land register going back 3000 BC have also been found.

Following Egyptians, the Romans – also among the most powerful civilizations belonging to the ancient world – practiced land surveying. They took it one step further and made “land surveyor” an official position inside the Empire. They had been called agrimensores, also known as Corpus Agrimensorum Romanorum. Despite the fact that used very simple tools, these people were very thorough with their jobs and would create straight lines and proper angles with the aid of these tools. After the lines were measured, they would create shallow ditches to mark the lines. In fact, a lot of the furrows they created continue to exist today.

One of several recorded land surveying in the “modern” times belongs to William the Conqueror who wrote the Domesday Book in 1086. This book serves as a directory names of land owners, the number of land they owned in addition to other information about the land. While it was a great level of information during this time, the pieces of information were not 100% correct. The locations had not been accurate and the maps were not built to scale.

Amongst history’s greatest icons had also been an avid surveyor – Napoleon Bonaparte. The interest in surveying land was really merely a product of his wish to conquer the entire world. Napoleon Bonaparte founded a registry named the cadastre. This includes a registry of properties of a county, ownership details, locations and as many details concerning the land’s value. Yes, Napoleon Bonaparte can be regarded as a land surveyor – and also a very smart man.

The strategy put to use in land surveying also have evolved over the centuries, over time. Years back, people would use whatever may help them determine the space from one place to another. This simply means using chains with links as well as ropes. Naturally, this didn’t give accurate results but they did not have the technology we have back then.

Today, land surveyors enjoy the best technologies in order to help with their job. There’s GPS, or Global Positioning System, which is just about the most accurate technologies being used today. Total stations are also extremely important to a land surveyor, which employs the use of an EDM or Electronic Distance Measurement device along with a theodolite that enables for more precise angle and distance measurements.

For all your land surveying needs, call Auburn Land Surveying at (334) 826-9540 or send us a message by going here.

How do you feel about construction safety regulations?

Construction Safety Regulations

by Misty Fanning – Find My Research

construction safetyConstruction safety should be the number one goal of general contractors, subcontractors and employees. There are several resources that need to be utilized before preparing to start a construction project. All employer’s and employee’s are regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If more employers and employees utilized the regulations that are available a majority of construction accidents could be avoided. OSHA 1926.20(b) discusses accident prevention responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the employer to implement programs and verify employees are following applicable rules. It is also regulated that competent persons utilized by the general contractor or subcontractor must provide inspections to make sure the construction project is safe at all times. If the employer, whether contractor or subcontractor, fails to follow the regulations this could lead to accidents or OSHA citations. The general contractor and the subcontractor depending on the agreement can share the duties on the construction project. When the general contractor makes an agreement with a subcontractor, the general contractor must assume all responsibilities as an employer under OSHA regulations. As far as a subcontractor, he or she is responsible for any applicable OSHA standards. The general contractor will be responsible for the entire site and the subcontractor would be liable for any agreed part of the contract. The subcontractor and the general contractor would be jointly responsible for the subcontractor’s work. The general contractor and subcontractor are required to provide personal protective equipment for employees that are exposed to hazards at the site. If a general contractor or subcontractor does not provide or require employees to use the personal protective equipment he or she may be fined. The personal protective equipment must be provided for the employee by the employer. Personal protection includes helmets, safety lines, lifelines, lanyards, safety nets, eye protection, foot protection etc. All personal protection equipment must meet applicable regulations to verify the equipment is safe for employees to use. The contractor or subcontractor is required to provide employees training. Any contractor and/or subcontractor who does not train employees may be fined. The employer shall verify each employee fully understands and knows how to avoid unsafe conditions. If an employer feels that an employee is not properly trained it is the employer’s duty to make sure that person is trained correctly. It is also the employer’s duty to know applicable regulations to control and eliminate any hazards. Resources: 1. OSHA Regulations

Construction Safety – My Response:

I agree in general with OSHA regulations. There are some instances when I’ve been on a construction site that common sense says that a safety helmet isn’t needed but OSHA regulations require it. My survey crew recently had to sit through an hour long “training” in order to survey in the woods near a power plant. Of course they had to wear helmet, glasses and steel toe shoes. I’m also aware of fatal accidents related to ditch collapses. These are also common sense situations. If you put someone in a ditch over their head – you need shoring. You shouldn’t need regulations for that BUT some contractors ignore the regulations and common sense. So, overall I’m good with the regs. If they keep accidents from happening because a contractor is scared of a fine, then I’ll bear the extra time in training and wear those clunky steel toed shoes. Keith – Auburn Land Surveying

Expert Witness – Georgia Supreme Court rules against family of Glynn crash victim

Expert Witness – Georgia Supreme Court rules against family of Glynn crash victim

By Teresa Stepzinski

BRUNSWICK – The Georgia Supreme Court has reversed a Court of Appeals decision and ruled in favor of two companies that a Savannah woman sued over her brother’s death in a crash on Interstate 95 in Glynn County.

At issue was whether the woman’s expert witness was qualified to testify in the matter under standards set by state law and a precedent-setting 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case.

In an unanimous opinion Monday, the state Supreme Court said Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett was right and the appeals court was wrong.

Scarlett ruled correctly when he determined the family’s witness was not an expert in the matter. Therefore, Scarlett was right to grant the companies’ motion for a summary judgment in their favor, the justices said.

Johnny Hamilton, 19, of Garden City was killed and his brother, Justin Hamilton, and their sister, Lakeisha Hamilton-King, were injured when a van struck them in a chain-reaction collision April 8, 2003, on I-95 at the Little Satilla River Bridge, which was being widened.

The three had gotten out of their car after it struck a concrete bridge guardrail when Hamilton-King attempted to avoid another car that drifted into her lane. There was no shoulder. As they stood close to the bridge barrier, the three were hit by the van.

The surviving siblings sued the HNTB Georgia Inc., the designer of the bridge-widening project. They also sued Plant Improvement Co., also known as Seaboard Construction Co., which was the prime contractor for the widening of nearly 7 miles of I-95 including the bridge.

They claimed the companies were negligent in designing the traffic control plan for the construction work, and in failing to provide proper lighting and signs in the work area. The siblings offered a civil engineer, Jerome Thomas, as an expert witness, to testify in support of their claim.

The companies asserted Thomas was not an expert under the qualifications set by state law and federal precedent. His testimony was inadmissible, they argued, because he did not present any evidence that bridge construction projects without shoulders and lighting were “inherently defective,” the companies argued.

Scarlett agreed, and excluded the testimony. Without admissible expert testimony, “there was no issue of fact to be decided by a jury,” Scarlett said in ruling for the companies.

The siblings appealed Scarlett’s decision, and won a reversal from the Court of Appeals. The companies then appealed it to the Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court.


Judge’s Order Tossing Expert Witness Grabs Attention in Asbestos Case

Judge’s Order Tossing Expert Witness Grabs Attention in Asbestos Case

expert witnessIn the Law.com article “Order Tossing Expert Grabs Attention in Asbestos Case” it is reiterated that an expert witness must not “advocate” for a particular side but must be a “dispassionate scientist/witness.”

    “For the reasons stated in the defendant’s brief, the court finds that Dr. Maddox easily qualifies as such a ‘quintessential expert for hire’ not only for the length, frequency and apparent lucrativeness, but also the litigation orientation he exhibited in attempting to add a proper empirical basis for his opinion after he had originally stated his sworn opinion and the court first found that it was inadmissible. This transgressed the scientific rule that the empirical data should lead to the theory, not vice versa. Although no person probably enjoys seeing their testimony discounted, during his live testimony at the hearing on this motion, Dr. Maddox’s behavior seemed much more consistent with an advocate than a dispassionate scientist/witness,” Parrott said in the order.

This opinion was formed during the “Daubert hearing” [insert link to my article] that lasted the whole day.  In addition to the 1993 Supreme Court’s decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharma, the judge also cited a 1996 decision from the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals saying “the courtroom is not the place for scientific guesswork, even on the inspired sort,” and the 2005 Georgia Law governing the use of expert witnesses saying the opinion “is not practically testable and has not been tested.”

The judge also speaks to the “expert for hire” issue. A full-time expert witness seems to always carry this stigma. A professional practitioner who also serves as an expert in a few cases, and who draws only a portion of his fees from expert testimony seems to be more acceptable to judges and juries. What percentage I guess is based on the opinion of the judge. But, you can bet, that the Daubert hearings will increase because of this and other cases of late.

Backpack Indoor Mapping at UC-Berkeley

Backpack Indoor Mapping at UC-Berkeley

Imagine the possibilities. What if Alice had one of these in Wonderland? Then she would have known where she had been. Still wouldn’t have known where she was going.

While we may be a few years away from seeing this in the mainstream, we’re there already with the same concept on the back of a truck. Go over to my friends Adam Arrington and John Dudley’s site at Earl Dudley. Watch the video here.

Indoor Mapping Technology

indoor mappingThis is the same technology (and brand) that are used by over 30 mappers who work for Google Maps that travel all over the U.S. and map the streets and surrounding buildings.  If you’ve not seen the “street-level” view, go here to my site for a glimpse. Look over on the right side of the page for the photo. If you click on it, you’ll be taken to the Google Maps for my office. Enjoy.

WARNING – First time I saw this I moved around for over an hour looking at different places.

Try this location in Google Maps = 27°59’17.62″N 86°55’30.42″E  Let me know when you find out where you are.  I just hope you come back ‘ALIVE”! (Link for those who want it.) Oh, and you’ll want to click on EARTH to get the 3-D effect.

Google Street View Raises Privacy Issues

Google Street View Raises Privacy Issues

google streetThis is a followup to my August 12th article in which I mentioned the Google Street View photos that have been taken all over the United States. I read today that Google has announced they plan to launch Street View in 20 German cities.  Seems that a LOT of the German people remember too well the “secret police surveillance” and are opting out.

     For those in eastern Germany, the secret police Stasi spied on every single aspect of private life and a well-known joke dating back to the years of communism runs like this: “Why, despite all the shortages, is toilet paper in eastern Germany two-ply? Because they have to send a copy of everything they do to Russia.”

Before that, the Hitler regime, tracking down Jewish people, communists and enemies of the state wherever they were living or hiding, was even more of a trauma.

So now that Google’s Street View wants to show images of German streets for everybody to see on the internet, politicians from all parties are up in arms against it.

I don’t see how a picture of the front of your house should cause you great alarm but maybe that’s because I haven’t lived through anything like the older Germans or those who were once a part of East Germany.

I’ll also compare this to our public records. Most of Europe’s landowners enjoy privacy. You can’t go into the local courthouse and view anyone else’s deed.  Not true in the good ole’ U.S.A. You can look at any public record – deeds, wills, divorces, marriages, taxes, etc.  Even our incorporation doesn’t shield us. Almost all states allow you to research the name of every owner or member of an incorporated company.

Google Street – What Does this Mean?

So, what does this mean to me? Well, it’s interesting. I haven’t thought about “privacy issues” related to land surveying before. I don’t mind someone having a picture of the front of my house or office. (In fact, the office picture probably helps me, as I said in the previous post.) But, I have to admit that I’ve always thought that I’d rather have my records at the courthouse more private than they are now.

     So great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community. – Sir William Blackstone (1783)