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How do I find my property corners with my GPS?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I hear this question a lot from landowners who have GPS technology at their disposal. Either a handheld “navigational” GPS or even an iPhone app that shows GPS coordinates.

The question is fair enough but the answer is most usually, PLEASE DON’T!

A surveyor can, and does, use GPS equipment to record a coordinate value for points that he/she has surveyed. When a surveyor later retraces the location of that property corner, all evidence recovered must be evaluated in order to recover or replace the corner.

That evidence comes in many forms: physical monuments, artificial monuments, distances or bearings. Coordinates are another form of evidence that can be considered by the retracing surveyor. However, the coordinate value is lower in importance than any other form of evidence with the exception of area (acreage).

To consider GPS coordinates as the only source to replace or locate a property corner would be a serious error and one that would most likely result in the incorrect location of the property corner.

For a person, not licensed to practice Land Surveying, to use [only] GPS coordinates to locate a property corner would not only be egregious, but also a violation of state law. To do so would place you in a position of practicing Land Surveying without a license and also place considerable liability on yourself if that erroneous corner was relied upon by others, such as an adjoining landowner.

Just because I have an automotive diagnostic scanner in my garage, does not make me a mechanic. My advice is to use your GPS equipment for what it is intended, navigation and call a Licensed Land Surveyor for locating your property corners. 

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