≡ Menu

Glossary

Glossary of Civil Engineering & Land Surveying Terms:

Easement – the privilege of using something that is not your own (as using another’s land as a right of way to your own.) Usually an easement has a special purpose and gives the owner of the easement right to “trespass” on the landowners property in order to maintain the easement or utility covered in the easement.

Encroachment – to intrude unrightfully on someone else’s rights or territory. This is when a building or some portion of it, or a wall or fence, extends beyond the boundary of the owner and illegally intrudes on the land of an adjoining owner.

Floodplain – floodplain or flood plain is the land area adjacent to a river, stream, lake, or other body of water that is subject to flooding. (See “flood” for more information.)

Metes and Bounds Legal – a land description method that details all of the boundary lines (bounds) of the land, together with the line dimensions & directions (metes). The most common method today is to use bearings and distances.

Drawing – an illustration that is drawn to scale that represents planned or actual features of an area. The survey drawing shows each property line with its distance and bearing, what marks the property corners, the improvements on the property, encroachments, easements, etc. The amount of information shown is dependent of the type of survey or the purpose.

Bearings – defines direction based on the four cardinal directions (north, south, east & west.) A bearing is comprised of three elements 1) the north or south element, 2) the bearing angle, and 3) the east or west element. For example N 24°15’ E is a line that runs in a direction of 24°15’ toward the east from the due north direction, or in a direction that is 24°15’ clockwise from the due north direction. (See figure.)

Monument – a fixed natural or artificial object that is found or set at a property corner to establish the boundaries of the property.

Parcel – a parcel of land is some defined amount of land defined by certain boundaries.  Another word for parcel of land could be “piece” of land.

Setback Lines – the distance from the property line or other established line within which no buildings may be constructed.  Also known as a building line.

Onsite Septic System – An onsite septic system is used in rural areas to dispose of household sewage.  The system normally contains a septic tank which allows the sewage to be “broken down” and field lines to dispose of the effluent.  It may occasionally contain an additional treatment system which “treats” the effluent to a higher level than the septic tank. To find your septic tank and field lines, look for the greenest grass.

A licensed land surveyor trusts his GPS system like  his gun in a battlefield. Though it sometimes do not provide all the info that you may need, it is nonetheless very helpful in producing an accurate boundary survey.

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.

Licensed Land Surveyor: Using GPS to Track You – Is It Real?

Licensed Land Surveyor: Using GPS to Track You – Is It Real?

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, as a licensed land surveyor myself, I WANT emergency services to be able to find me if and when I 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.

Licensed Land Surveyor: Using GPS to Track You – Is It Real?

Licensed Land Surveyor: Using GPS to Track You – Is It Real?

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 Huntsville Land Surveying at (256) 585-6002.

Land Surveyor: Land Disputes Between Countries

Land Surveyor: Land Disputes Between Countries

A land surveyor may not be recognized as much as a doctor or a lawyer, but no one can dispute that they play a very crucial role on Earth. As proof, several countries all over the world have unsettled land disputes over other countries. Some may have been settled through the International Court of Justice, Treaty conditions, or a claimant country’s sovereignty has been recognized. And of course, these were all settled with the help of a land surveyor.

Let’s take a look at some of the famous land disputes all over the world settle by a land surveyor:

  • Mayotte (Africa) – Claimants are France and Comoros. France gained full control under the 2009 referendum, the population supported becoming an overseas department of France, and so became one on March 31, 2011.
  • Ligitan and Sipadan (Asia) – Claimants are Malaysia and Indonesia. The 2002 International Court of Justice ruling awarded both islands to Malaysia, but left unsettled the maritime boundary immediately southwest and west of the islands between Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • Eastern coast of Narva and Petseri County (Europe) – Claimants are Russia and Estonia.Russia recognized them as a part of Estonia with Treaty of Tartu, 1920. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia continued administering it.
  • Tuzla Island and Strait of Kerch; Sarych (Europe) – Claimants are Ukraine and Russia. The conflict arose in 2003 when the Russian authorities started to build a dam towards the island. Since then Ukraine established a border garrison on the island for a closer surveillance. The reason for the conflict is the fact that Tuzla island strategic location gives Ukraine full rights over the main channel in the Strait of Kerch and, thus, the access to the Sea of Azov.
  • San Andrés and Providencia (Central America/Caribbean) – Claimants are Colombia and Nicaragua. Colombia currently has full control because Honduras de facto recognises Colombian claim.
  • Los Monjes Archipelago (South America) – Claimants are Venezuela and Colombia. Velenzuela gains full control because Colombia no longer claims the islands, only the surrounding waters.

A piece of parcel is something that signifies power and resources thus many countries fight over it. If big countries have unsettled disputes over a piece of land, small land disputes also happen between siblings, husband and wife, and neighbors. Though you can’t hire a land surveyor from an International Court to settle your small land disputes, you can always hire a local land surveyor who can survey your property and resolve any encroachment claims and/or equally divide a property as mandated by law.

A land surveyor plays a very vital role in settling land disputes, big or small. If you are in a situation that you may need the expertise of a land surveyor, please contact Huntsville Land Surveying at  (256) 585-6002   today or go to our Contact page and send us an email.