Professional Land Surveyor in VA & NC


Armentrout Surveying & Mapping
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January 2022  by Greg A.


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Some commonly asked questions from the general public have been placed on this page to assist you in deciding what you want to do concerning your land transaction.

1 Acre: 43,560 sq.ft. or 208.7103' / side (square)
1 Chain (Surveyor's): 66.00 ft.
1 Link: 0.66 ft. or 7.92 inches
1 Perch: 16.50 ft.
1 Pole: 16.50 ft.
1 Rod: 16.50 ft.

Metric Measurements:
1 meter: 39.37 in. or 1.0936 yard
1 decimeter: 3.937 in. or 0.328083 ft.
1 centimeter: 0.3937 in. or 0.0328 ft.

A survey is usually needed when the title to land is being transferred. It is used to depict in picture form, the shape of your boundary. It includes accurate information about the dimensions of your lines with a description of each corner to be found there. It also shows the accurate area of the boundary usually in acres or sometimes in square feet. The plat will also show any encroachments that may be present.

Before developing a tract of land into a subdivision, a survey is  required. Many county ordinances require that the boundary of the subdivision be surveyed & divided by a professional land surveyor. Then submitted to the local planning commission for approval. (Check with your local planning commission for their subdivision requirements). These requirements may be a few simple procedures or may include having to get a boundary survey, topographical survey, road design & layout, a soil & erosion control plan. In many instances, the process can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months before final approval. When planning a subdivision, the surveyor takes into consideration the topography of the land to best lay out the lots or tracts. The developer also helps in this aspect to relay what he or she is looking for in their design such as using existing features of the land or tree lines, interior fence lines, etc.

When a property owner has a question as to where the property line is located in relation to where a neighbor is erecting a fence, building or cutting trees/timber is another reason to acquire the services of a professional land surveyor. He will determine the location of the property line in relation to the possible encroachment of the neighbor. If the neighbor disagrees with the findings of the surveyor, there may be a possibility that the neighbor may want to challenge this. If so, this will more than likely be heard in court. The surveyor will appear in court, as an expert witness on your behalf to answer any questions that may arise.

In many instances, a surveyor becomes a mediator between property owners, when a disputed property line is involved. I've seen that most disputes are the product of misunderstanding of each owner. One may or may not know where the property line is and sometimes "innocently" starting a dispute with the neighbor by saying the wrong thing. The human being is very "protective" of their items of ownership. Probably the top of the list is their real estate or property.

Survey fees are based on several factors.  These include the scope of the project and the number of hours required to complete the work.  Including research, field time, calculations & drafting, terrain, vegetation & availability of boundary corners.  We do not set fees for our professional services but address each project individually.

An opinion of value usually in a written statement of the market value of an adequately described parcel of property as of  a specific date.

Course:  In surveying, the bearing of a line; also the bearing and length of a line.

Deed: An instrument in writing which, when executed and delivered, conveys and estate in real property or interest therein.

Encroachment:  A physical feature such as a building or other object which is built or placed upon the property of another without their consent.

Meandering:  A turn or winding, as of a stream.

Metes and Bounds: A method of describing land by measure of length (metes) of the boundary lines (bounds).  In general the "metes" and "bounds" can be recited by reference to record, natural or artificial monuments at the corners; and record, natural or cultural boundary lines.

Parent Tract: The original tract from which a parcel has been taken.

Point of Beginning: The first point on the boundary of the property being described in metes and bounds description.

Survey: The process by which a parcel of land is measured and its boundaries and contents ascertained; also a map, plat, or statement of the result of such survey, with the courses and distances and the quantity of the land.

Thence: In surveying, and in descriptions of land by courses and distances, this word, preceding each course given, imports that the following course is continuous with the one before it.

Topographic Survey: To determine the elevations or relief of the ground with the locations of natural & artificial objects. The topographic drawing is drawn showing very detailed information, including the contour intervals. An example is shown here       quadmap01       quadmap02

*These definitions were taken from the Definitions Of Surveying and Associated Terms book written 1972 and Reprinted 1989, American Congress of Surveying and Mapping and American Society of Civil Engineers. Also from Black's Law Dictionary Sixth Edition, St. Paul West Publishing Co. 1990

Question: #1)
How many feet are in a pole?
Answer: #1)
16.5 feet

Question: #2)
How many square feet are in an acre?
Answer: #2)
43,560 sq. ft.

Question: #3)
My deed calls for 10 acres, but after it was surveyed it turns out we only have 7.5 acres. We are being taxed for the 10 acres, can we change that?
Answer: #3)
Yes you can.  Take a copy of your survey to your County Assessor's Office and show them that you are being taxed incorrectly. They should change it and tax you for the correct amount, however, this does not entitle you to a refund from the County for the previous years of incorrect real estate being taxed. This is one way that you can save money by having a current survey done.                                                                                                     

Question: #4)
I have already had a survey completed and it shows 20 acres. Can you just draw a line in the middle of the map and split my property into two 10 acre tracts to save me money and not have to pay for additional survey work?
Answer: #4)
No. In order for there to be a correct survey of the two tracts, we can't just draw a line on the map. We must return to the property and correctly place new pins at the new division corners and then revise the survey map to show the two separate tracts which you will also need to check your counties zoning and subdivision regulations to make sure that you are in compliance with their laws.

Question: #5)
What processes do you go thru in order to do a survey of my property?
Answer: #5)
We start the process by locating your property on your counties Tax Map, then we find the deed of your property to get an accurate description of the layout of your property. If there is not an accurate description, then we must trace your deed back to its origin. We must also retrieve the deed information from adjoining property to get an accurate description of their property.  After all the necessary parcels have been researched, we plot the deeds up to form "puzzle pieces". Once this is completed, the crew goes out to the property to make location of corners, markers, etc. utilizing modern surveying equipment and storing this information into the Survey Data Collector. From the Data Collector, we import the coordinates of your property into the computer and calculations are made to set missing corners and draw your map. Our maps usually include the boundary of the property, any (creeks, branches, rivers, if possible) easements, road frontage, dwellings, buildings etc. After this process, we then create an accurate "Metes and Bounds" description for you to take to your attorney, along with your survey plat to finalize your land transaction.

Question: #6)
I had a surveyor to come and survey my property, but I believe that one of the lines he/she marked is wrong. What should I do?

Answer: #6)
The best thing to do in a situation like this is to go to the surveyor who completed the work and ask them to explain to you their process of why they put the line where they did. If you feel comfortable after hearing the explanation, then all is well. However, if you do not feel comfortable with the explanation given to you, you are more than within your rights to get a second opinion from another surveyor. This will be an additional cost to you by the second surveyor because they will have to do the research, deed plots and determine if the line is right or wrong. If both surveyors determine the line is in the correct place, then there was probably just a misunderstanding somewhere down the chain of title of the property. However, if the second surveyor should find that the line to be different, you should take the second map to the original surveyor and have them look at it to see if maybe there was a mistake made somewhere. If nothing can be resolved, you should probably seek legal counsel.

Question: #7)
I gave the address of my property to a surveyor for them to survey that I was going to build on. After the survey was completed and I began clearing it for construction, I found out that it was the wrong piece of property. Shouldn't that surveyor have to survey the correct piece of property for me for free?
Answer: #7)
No.  A surveyor will go to the specific piece of property that you requested them to go to.  Since the wrong address was given, the surveyor should not be liable.

Question: #8)
My neighbor keeps pulling up the survey stakes that were placed there from the survey I had completed. What can I do about this?
Answer: #8)
First try talking to your neighbor.  Maybe it is just a misunderstanding. If you wish, contact the surveyor and they will come back out to your property and reset the stakes.  I'm sure for a fee for their time. If the neighbor moves it again, then you apparently are involved in a property line dispute. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to consult an attorney or some form of legal counsel.

Question: #9)
If I call a surveyor to come out to my property and mark a line for me,  will they put it where I think it should go?
Answer: #9)
No. Just because you think you know where the property line is, doesn't  necessarily mean that's where the line goes according to a deed or plats of record. A surveyor will research the property and get an accurate metes and bounds description of where the line is supposed to go and then mark it.

Question: #10)
When I see the following in my deed description: N10°15'30"E 100.51'........what does this mean?
Answer: #10)
This is what is commonly called a bearing and distance used in surveying to tell the direction and distance to a property corner or some other point of reference that may be in a deed or on a plat.
The (N) stands for North.....10° or 10 degrees 15' or 15 minutes 30" or 30 seconds (E) stands for East.........The reverse call for the above example would be South 10°15'30" West *** The distance for that 'leg or segment' of the boundary is 100.51' (feet) this is a unit of measure called engineering units which could be expressed also as 100 feet 6 & 1/8 inches. As you can see this makes the engineering units a lot easier to work with.

These questions represent a small percentage of the questions we are asked on a regular basis. Should you have a question not listed above, then please feel free to contact us at any time.  We understand that each client's situation is unique and we will be more than happy to help you in anyway that we can. Please keep in mind, that I am not an attorney and in no way wish for anyone to misuse the information provided in the answer section for legal purposes. Please consult a legal professional if you are involved in any matters that might require legal representation.