Land Surveyors of the Emporia, KS and Flint Hills Area Since 1984
Surveying and Land have lots of myths, partial truths, misconceptions and beliefs. Look at a few widely held beliefs.
"Legal Description? I have that on my tax statement." Well, actually you don't. That abbreviated writing is NOT a legal description. It was written for the convenience of the County Appraiser as a location and is not copied from your deed ON PURPOSE. It is not and never was intended to be a legal description. It may, however, help us find your actual recorded description. If you have title insurance, then we would like to see Schedule A & B of the Title Commitment.
"The line is always in the center of road." Except of course, when it isn't!! Eastern & Central Kansas has many, many rural roads that are not on the section lines on purpose, let alone the ones that were not built on the line in the first place or have been pushed away from hedge rows through road maintenance or realigned for a culvert or a bridge, for example. Section lines do not magically drift to the "correct" position (center of the road) over a period of years, nor do the roads move themselves to the Section lines!
"That old fence has to be the line between me and my neighbor, it's been there a hundred years!" This statement refers to the legal doctrine of adverse possession. Click here for a basic definition of adverse possession. Time is only one element of adverse possession (there are four more). The key here is that you are claiming what is, on paper, owned by another. (that's why it's called adverse possession) This can only be true if the fence is wrong in the first place! Granted, fences are often good evidence of where a line was originally thought to be or guessed to be. But be aware: no fence or object can change a section or quarter section line. They are fixed by law. You may claim to own by adverse possession land in another section or quarter, but adverse possession can never, ever change a section or quarter section line (Swarz v. Ramala, 63 Kan. 633). Also, only the courts can make the determination of adverse possession, so don't tell me I have to use that there old fence just because its been there a long time. We just might tell you that we left our black robes in the other truck! ;)
"My place had to have been surveyed, it has been sold several times before I bought it." Unfortunately for the new buyer, this statement is most likely false. Kansas was (and somewhat remains) a buyer beware state. Too often neighbors, realtors or the former owners will tell the buyers where they think the boundary lines are without any real knowledge other than "this is what I was told when I bought it" or "this what someone told me once." Generally speaking, the more expensive the property, the greater the chance that it has been recently surveyed. Also, a product put out for Title Insurance reasons, the Mortgagee Title Inspection, has added to the confusion over the years. See our Work Order for an explanation of what the MTI does and does not do for boundary lines. As a potential buyer, you should insist that your new property have a boundary survey done, if nothing else for your own piece of mind.
"With GPS, can't your just put some numbers into your satellite machine and come out and show me my land? Shouldn't take but a minute!" Our sophisticated GPS units and a yard stick have a lot in common. They are both just tools you can use to measure a distance. When the framework for boundaries in Kansas was laid out in the mid 1800's, there was but one satellite in the sky. The Moon. If none of the boundary corners are given in highly accurate Latitude and Longitude or State Plane Coordinates (and they are not), then no amount of technology will pin point a location in of itself. Also, the distance between any two lat/long points changes with elevation. The closer to the center of the earth, the closer those coordinate pairs are together. Besides, and this is the most important point, it's the application of historical practices and legal principles to your legal description that determine the locations of boundary lines, not the tools. Owning a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter!!!
"I need a survey, how much will it cost?" One of the problems with estimating surveying fees is that it is a professional service. Most professional fees are time based. How much time is needed to do a survey is NOT necessarily dependant on the size of the tract or lot. As legal descriptions are unique, so are most surveying situations and the time needed to survey a particular tract. Expect a surveyor to ask a lot of questions about what, where and why. Don't be surprised if you can't get an answer immediately. It would be a little like calling up an auto mechanic and saying "My car doesn't run, how much will it cost to get it fixed?" and then expecting an immediate, definitive answer over the phone.
"I need to find an engineer to locate my property lines." No, you need a Land Surveyor. Professional Engineers (PE) are not authorized to do any surveying of "real property for the establishment of land boundaries, rights-of-way, easements and the dependent or independent surveys of the public land survey system." It's state law.
"I pay taxes to the middle of the road." Well, no you don't. Even if the road was opened up "on the line" (see above), the county appraiser by law gives you ample credit for that part used by the public as an easement. This myth is a personal favorite of mine.
"Your survey is wrong. See, look here at the county appraisers map." The GIS systems statewide are excellent tools put together by highly trained and professional mappers. But due to a lack of actual ground control, these dedicated folks are forced to make assumptions and to abide by the State's Property Valuation Department rules on property mapping. All of their maps say something like "Not survey accurate" on them. And they mean it.
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