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Questions on the accuracy of surveyor pins and surveys.

7 years ago

Browsing the forums here this seems the most appropriate place for this question. If you know of other forums on GardenWeb or elsewhere that might be better suited for this question, I'd love to know.

We are having a housing boom in our little Detroit suburb. A group of us are believe our building department is not doing their job to enforce the zoning and builders are regularly being allowed to build inside setbacks.

To substantiate this claim, we found the surveyor pins on the front corner of two properties and used that as the first of our reference points. We were told two things by some members of our Zoning Board of Appeals regarding this:

(1) You can never trust a survey pin. They are highly inaccurate.

(2) If a builder gets a survey that he doesn't like, he'll just call a second surveyor in because no two surveys are ever the same.

I wanted to get the opinion of folks that are either surveyors or have worked closely with them. Is there any truth to these claims?

I know survey pins can be moved, or what a person thinks is a survey pin may not actually be one. However, here are some additional details.

A large number of the properties in the city have chain link fences on the rear and side lot lines. When I had my own survey done we found the rear corner posts were exactly at the corner. We assumed this is also the case for the fences at the two sample properties (though not necessarily a correct assumption). When comparing the survey pins, the rear posts, and the existing fence, they seem to be built exactly on the property line.

The lots are 40 feet wide here. At one property we found a neighbor's pin exactly 40 feet away. It seems unlikely both would have been moved by the exact same amount. We are going to look for a second pin at the other property.

Two other properties had stake surveys done to mark the property boundaries. Measurements from the stakes demonstrated setback violations.

Because there are many properties that we believe are in violation it would be quite expensive for us to have all of them surveyed, although if it comes to it we might start raising funds.

The city does not require a survey be performed before building starts.

The neighborhoods were originally built in the 30's through the 50's. The surveyor pins we found are metal iron pipe and not rebar if that helps to give a clue to their age.

Since none of us are professional builders or planners, and I'm the only one of our group that has had a house built, we'd welcome any help to make sure we fully understand all the nuances of finding property boundaries. Thanks!


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