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How to Read a Record of Survey

How to Use a Record of Survey to Locate Property Corners

Hey, everyone. Brian Freeman here. Hey, thanks for joining me today. Today, we’re going to be talking about record of surveys. If you’re watching the video, I will share my screen to show you what a record of survey is. I want to show you how you can read it and determine what’s on it. If you remember what we talked about a few weeks ago, we have a parcel of land in escrow. We used this record of survey to locate the property corners. So I’m going to show you the exact record of survey we used when we were marking the property corners, so you can see what we were looking at and get a better idea of how you can look at a record of survey and use one.

The Record of Survey Documents are Recorded with the Canyon County Recorder

Okay, so we’re looking at this record of survey. So I just wanted to get you an overview of what’s here. At the top, you’ll see when the document was recorded. So this is a recorded document; it was recorded with the Canyon County Recorder in 2018. It says not official; see original records in the office. You’ll see that this record of survey was provided to us by the actual title company, so that’s why this is on there. The red arrow shows this as the subject property they’re talking about in the report we’re reviewing.

At the top, it says record of survey. This is what it is. The legal of where this is at is in the report too. A portion of the South East 1/4, NW 1/4 of Section 18, Township 5 North, Range 2nd West, Boise; Meridian, Canyon County, Idaho. The land is actually in Canyon County but with the Middleton, Idaho zip code 83644. Then you’re going to see the orientation. This is North. The maps like the one included in the record of survey report always point North. 

Engineering Scale for the Record of Survey

When we were looking at this last, a few weeks ago, we talked about the legend of where it’s telling what is in the report. Looking at the scale, you’ll see the engineering scale is a 1″ = 50″ scale. Every one inch is going to equal 50 feet. So that’s what that means.

Legend for the Record of Survey

The legend tells you what you’ll see and be looking at. This particular report says there is 5/8-inch rebar that the surveyor found. He also found half-inch rebar. The surveyor set his pin/ property monument with a half-inch by 24 rebar set piece of rebar. It also tells you the property boundary lines and what they look like, so they have some dashes; there’s a section line you can see; it’s a lighter dashed line. And then you also have a fence line; you can see the posts. So it’s a little bit harder to see because it’s small, but if we zoom in a little closer, you can see it better. So that’s what that is, okay? That’s your legend that you’re looking at when you’re referencing a record of survey. 

How to Determine the Surveyor Who Did the Actual Survey

You’re also going to see that there’s an engineer’s certification. This is the actual surveyor that did the work, the individual, not necessarily the company. Thomas J. Wellard was working for Skinner Land Survey. So that is the reference to who the actual surveyor is. Suppose you look at the surveyor’s narrative. It says, “The survey was performed at the request of Jessica Skinner,” who is the owner of Skinner Survey, “on behalf of Mont Tanner,” but the actual person that did the survey is Thomas Wellard, so you see his stamp here, and that’s how you reference that there, okay? Again, this is the actual person who ordered the survey, Mont Tanner.

What is a Reference Survey on a Record of Survey?

You’ll see reference surveys if you’re looking at the legend and scale. These are previously recorded surveys. This survey record is referenced as a recorded document by the instrument number. The record of survey has an instrument number as well. We will get into that information soon.

Surveyor's Narrative for the Record of Survey

This surveyor’s narrative explains what the surveyor did and why they recorded this record of survey. Let’s read this here, and then I’ll look into what these corners are and how they reference back to the legend and the surveyor’s narrative. 

The surveyor’s narrative says, “This survey was performed at the request of Jessica Skinner on behalf of Mont Tanner to locate the corners of Parcel 4 as shown on record of survey instrument number 1989003714.” You can see that here; that is referenced back. It is written on the second line, 198003714. So that’s a previous survey that was recorded. So that’s what they’re referencing. “The parcel is described in Warranty Deed Instrument number 200649826.” So that’s referencing the deed for this particular parcel. The surveyor’s narrative also says reference deed here, instrument number 200649826, at the top. We’re referencing that deed, “and it is in Canyon County parcel number R37402.” That’s this parcel here that we’re looking at, Parcel 37402. “While performing the retracement survey, it was discovered that the two westernmost corners,” which are the corners that we’re looking at, “two westernmost corners had been moved to apparently more closely match the fence line. The monuments had been disturbed with the caps damaged or missing and clearly out of position, while the other found monuments remain in good condition for the age. I am filing this survey to show the position of the disturbed monuments and the fence line along with the monuments I set to match all the record data.”

How to Decipher What the Surveyor's Narrative Means

What he’s saying is that he went out to do a retracement to make sure to mark the property corners again. The record of survey previously recorded for these two corners did not match those locations and had been moved. So he’s referencing that. He had to reset those property corners, and that’s why he recorded this record of survey because they weren’t in the exact location where they were recorded to be. So he’s saying that the pins or the monuments are in decent condition, but they needed to move. Shown is a half-inch rebar with a lighter colored line on the backside and black dots. The black dots are the pins that the surveyor set. 

So let’s refer back to the legend to see what was referenced. The thinner line on the circle is a half-inch rebar bar found. A half inch rebar or 1/2″ x 24″ rebar bar – set. So that’s how we’re representing that. Remember, the fence and property boundary line have a half dashed mark. You can also see the set property corner. This property corner is the one that he found. Then you can see that he gives you a dimension of 1.68 feet. So there’s a difference of 1.68 feet. 

Property Encroachment from the Neighbors Fence

The actual fence is also vital to look at. So you can see it is being illustrated as dots. The surveyor set the pin, which is 1.68 feet on the other side of the fence. Our property runs 1.68 feet on the other side of the neighbor’s fence. This is what we would call an encroachment. The fence is encroaching on our property. This is good to know. You can make sure that you can address that before closing escrow. If you’re buying a house or land, it doesn’t matter. The fence is 1.68 feet on the other side of the neighbor’s property, meaning his fence is on our property. 


There was another encroachment, but it was removed. This is a new one. You can see the actual property line illustrated by the dashed line, which does not run along the fence line. It’s on the other side with a difference of 2.78 feet. That is the found corner that was there. The fence isn’t even in the right spot. This is the half-inch rebar set, and it’s off 2.78 feet. So the fence can move from his property an extra 2.78 feet.

What to Do if You Find a Possible Property Encroachment

This is something you could check with the neighbor and ask, “Hey, just wanted to check and see if you’re aware of this and see if you can get this fence adjusted either before closing escrow or agree to have it done after the fact.” This is essential information.

How to Locate the Dimensions on a Record of Survey

The other thing you can see on a record of survey is you can also get the dimensions. For example, from monument to monument is 128.65 feet. We took a tape measure and measured. We were able to get the dimension once we found the corner with a metal detector. We were able to get that and then pull it. The pins were buried under the ground a little bit, but we found it pretty easy. You can see all the dimensions. From pin to pin is 380 feet and 659 feet lines. This is a half-inch pin we found, and it was fine. He did not have to reset the pin; he found it. So it was good to go. Then you have the actual section line, referenced by the dotted lines.

Why You Should Read Your Record of Survey

You want to ensure you read the surveyor’s narrative and understand what happened in that record of survey and why it was recorded. Make sure you look at the legend and scale. You can look at the actual distance of the dimensions from corner to corner. As we discussed, you can locate a property corner by using a metal detector to find them. If the property corners have already been pinned, it’s possible you can pull some dimensions and locate all of them on your own. 

Who Should You Locate the Property Corners When You're Buying Land?

We highly recommend getting these located by the seller. The seller pays a licensed surveyor to mark the corners as part of the purchase agreement. So whenever you’re purchasing a house on any size piece of land or even a subdivision lot, you can have encroachments from fences and other structures, but it’s a lot more common when you get out on some of these larger pieces of property. So it can be helpful to get this done right at the very beginning of the process.

Wrapping Up

All right, I hope it helps you understand how to read a record of survey and how it can benefit you. If you would like more information on how we can help you build, buy or sell your home or land, please feel free to contact us. Thank you for your time today, and have an excellent rest of your day.

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