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> The Surveyor and the Survey


The surveyor, the survey and their functions have been closely and inseparably tied in with the progress of civilization. The earliest recorded accounts of property surveys are Egyptian, but it can be assumed that the Babylonians practiced such an art even as early as 2500 B.C. A Babylonian boundary stone set in 1200 B.C. was inscribed with the translated meaning “…The King’s officer measured this field.”
In his early stage of development, when man was only a hunter and fisherman, he had no need for exact limitations of boundaries and his title to real estate was vague. For example, in early American history, the area now known as the state of Kentucky was often referred to as the “Dark and Bloody Ground” because it was a hunting and fishing area used commonly by various northern and southern Indian tribes. However, when man began to cultivate the soil, it became necessary, obviously, to establish definite boundaries. At this moment, the surveyors’ role became vitally important to the community.
The art of surveying is, like that of the medical or legal profession, primarily one requiring mental ability. Although it might be difficult to convince a tired, muddy surveyor of the fact, the concept of surveying does not involve physical effort. The surveyor is, instead, employed because of his superior knowledge. (Clark on Surveying and Boundaries, Fourth Edition)
Surveying is the art of determining the positions of points on or near the earth’s surface by means of measurements in the three elements of space; namely, distance, direction and elevation.
The practice of the profession of land surveying is defined as practicing that branch of the engineering profession and applied mathematics which includes the measuring and plotting of the dimensions and areas of any portion of the earth, including all naturally placed and man-or machine-made structures and objects thereon, the lengths and directions of boundary lines, the contour of the surface and the application of rules and regulations in accordance with local requirements incidental to subdivisions for the correct determination, description, conveying and recoding thereof or for the establishment or reestablishment thereof. (See § 7203 Education Law)
Additionally, only a person licensed or otherwise authorized under this article shall practice land surveying or use the title “Land Surveyor”. (See §7204 Education Law)
The complete requirements for a license as a professional land surveyor can be found at
Over the years, the importance of developing the profession of surveying into the explicit science that it is today only emphasizes the high value placed on both surveyors and surveys.
Not all surveys are performed for the same reason. Included in the most frequently seen types of surveys are; title survey, certificate of occupancy survey, architectural survey, topographical survey, radius maps and construction survey.
A title survey is a survey map prepared by a licensed land surveyor registered in the state of New York, which depicts the mathematical and physical features of a parcel of land with relation to map lines, deeds of record, and /or other pertinent reference data base upon an actual field survey. (New York State Association of Professional Land Surveyors)
A certificate of occupancy survey or as-built survey is used and generally required by municipalities to show a completed construction project. It may vary from a survey of a new house to a survey of an existing house with a new addition. The c.o. survey must show as built conditions in relation to the proposed plans as approved. Although a c.o. survey may include sufficient information allowing it to be used as and for a title survey, a title survey probably will not include sufficient information to serve as a c.o. survey. An extension added to an existing house would be an example of this.
An architectural or topographical survey, which may be considered together, will show all pertinent physical features required to design subdivisions, roads, sanitary and drainage systems, buildings, etc. This type of survey will typically denote existing conditions; such as, signs, poles, and underground utilities.
Radius maps are required by municipalities as an integral part of a variance application. Typically shown are all properties within a specified distance (100 feet, 200 feet, etc.) of the subject property. Each property use, along with zoning it indicated along with a list of all owners’ names and addresses.
Construction surveys may include many different types; but all are used for the “layout” of subdivisions, roads, buildings, etc.
Out of all the above described surveys, certainly, the one of the most interest to this article is the title survey. In future articles, the title survey will be described and explained in much greater detail; hopefully providing a greater understanding of the surveyor and the survey.

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