• Boundary Surveying

    Land Surveying is one of the oldest professions, dating back to the Bible days and the ancient Egyptians. Deuteronomy 19:14 (KJV) tells us that "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark, which they of old time have set." Three of the four men on Mt. Rushmore (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln) were Land Surveyors. Needless to say, with technology and the advancement of civilization much has changed in the professional world of Land Surveying.


    We strongly recommend that almost all real estate transactions use a current boundary survey. Relying on older surveys, word of mouth, and unexplained wood stakes or flagging might save money at the time but the potential exists for problems and bigger expenses down the road. In most property disputes and encroachments, the parties involved thought they knew where the property line was.

    Chastain land surveying services provide you with accurate, easy-to-read boundary surveys. Contact us for a free quote!


    Chastain & Associates, P.C. uses modern surveying equipment and software to prepare an accurate plat of the property. While all plats must meet minimum state standards, years of experience in dealing with the various ordinances and procedures required by different cities and counties helps us to provide a plat that will meet their requirements for approval. We realize that the client must not only be satisfied with the results on the ground, but also be able to read and understand their survey. Furthermore, we understand the absolute necessity in meeting deadlines and sending the finished product to the client, bank, or attorney quickly and efficiently.


    State licensing board rules and good professional practice combine to establish proper procedures for modern boundary surveying practice. The first step is to obtain all available research material and compile it into a pre-survey analysis. This typically consists of deeds and plats of the subject property and all adjoining tracts, as well as any adjacent street or utility right of way information. Secondly the surveyor will make a diligent search of the property for all monumentation and evidence of property lines, using the compiled research as a guide. The third step is the field traverse, where modern high precision equipment is used to measure and locate everything that is essential to the survey. Data reduction and boundary analysis make up the fourth or "office" step. At this point, the conditions on the ground are compared to the appropriate deeds and plats. Using legal principles such as senior rights, rules of evidence, and controlling calls, the precise limits of the property are calculated. The fifth step, if necessary, is to return to the site to establish any missing corners and mark the boundaries as needed. The sixth and final step is the preparation and delivery of the plat.

  • Do I Need a Survey?

    Property lines and property corners are things that some people take for granted. Common sense dictates that we should be able to understand our property boundaries if we can read a map and identify colored ribbon. Unfortunately, assumptions about property lines are what lead to most boundary disputes, setback violations, encroachments, and trespassing cases. Here are a few little known facts that will help you decide if you need a survey.

    1. My seller has a survey, so I don't need a new one, right? No: Surveys performed for previous owners do not protect new owners. The basics of contract laws typically exclude a third party from liability. So, the previous owner, or seller, may have recourse if he or she is the party that ordered the survey, but you, as the new owner, do not since you weren't part of the transaction. Additionally, the statute of limitations for surveying errors is 6 years, so even the original client wouldn't have recourse on older surveys.
    2. I found a point in the ground with ribbon on it, that's the corner, right? Not necessarily. Reference points are used for line of sight measurements by surveyors and often have nothing to do with property lines. Many problems have erupted by mistaking a reference point (or "traverse point") for property line markers. Property corner monuments should be clearly identified on both the survey and on the ground.
    3. There is a ribbon tied in a tree, that's my corner, isn't it? Not necessarily. Ribbons can be tied to trees and even wooden stakes for many reasons, such as to mark reference points, buried utilities, well and springs, proposed power lines, soil borings, clearing limits for construction, hunting spots, bee nests, and even flowers. Many driveways have been built on the assumption that the flagging or ribbon tied in a tree was the property line, only to have to move the driveway later.
    4. If the real estate agent or seller show me the property corners, I'm covered right, can't I always go back on them if there's a problem? No. Although there may be exceptions in the instances of intentional fraud, there are no laws to protect buyers of real estate from the incorrect good faith efforts of those involved with the process of buying and selling real estate. In fact, many forms and closing documents state that the buyer is accepting the property "as is" and will not hold anyone responsible for such errors. Only a registered land surveyor that is working on your behalf can be held responsible for property lines.
    5. Well, if all else fails, that's where title insurance will save me, right? No again. Without a current survey done for you the buyer, there will be an exclusion in the policy such that the policy will not cover situations that would have been revealed by a current survey. So, encroachments over the property line, adverse possession by adjacent owners, errors in acreage calculations in older surveys, undocumented driveways over the property, etc. will not be covered under the title insurance policy. At best, title insurance covers the real property on the deed, not the structures on it. If part of a house is over the property line, it is not covered by title insurance! Read more information about title insurance coverage.
    6. Since the bank is loaning the money to buy the property, they will make sure that everything is in place, right? No yet again. Until the late 1990s, all lending institutions required new or updated surveys in the buyers name, to protect all parties from the problems listed above. However, in order to be more competitive with each other by lowering closing costs, they dropped this requirement. They have special insurance that protects them in case they take the loan back and it is devalued due to a matter that a new survey would have alerted them to, but there is no protection for the property owner.
  • ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys

    Recognizing a very wildly varying landscape of survey standards nationwide, the American Land Title Association ("ALTA") got together in 1962 with the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping ("ACSM") and developed a uniform standard of survey requirements that would meet the stringent needs of lenders and title insurers nationwide, commonly known as "ALTA Standards". An ALTA survey differs from a typical boundary survey in several ways. Between the 7th revision (in 2011) and the 8th revision (in 2016), ACSM merged with and became known as the National Society of Professional Surveyors ("NSPS"). So, these surveys are now known as ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys.

    ALTA Surveying

    The most notable way is that the surveyor must be provided with the results of a title examination (usually by a Title Insurance Commitment) so that the title examiner and surveyor are both on the same page and aware of all matters that affect a piece of property. Higher precision and measurement analysis standards are also unique to ALTA surveys, assuring the client of a consistent, very high quality product. Unique or site specific survey needs can also be addressed through the 21 item "menu" known as Table A.

    ALTA surveys are usually required when a certain dollar amount of title insurance is reached, or based on a certain type of property such as a fast-food restaurant, industrial facility, or multi-level construction. ALTA surveys are generally performed on commercial or industrial property, although vacant or unimproved land may sometimes require one. We have prepared hundreds of ALTA surveys in several states. Many lenders and title examiners recommend us to their clients, of which we are extremely grateful. Knowing that most transactions that require an ALTA survey will also require a tight timeframe with little room for error, we strive to keep the closing on schedule while communicating with the various parties along the way. We look forward to discussing your ALTA survey needs soon.

    Savannah Welcome Center

    Please visit the ALTA web site to view their standards.

  • Understanding Surveys

    • Diagram 1A

      Bearings are measured as the angle from due north and due south. They are stated as which quadrant they are in, as identified by the first and last letter of each bearing.

    • Diagram 1B

      High precision angular measurements are stated in degrees, minutes, and seconds. There are 360 degrees in a full circle, 60 minutes in a degree, and 60 seconds in a minute. This is often but incorrectly confused with GPS coordinates.

    • Diagram 2

      Survey distances are expressed in horizontal feet. Horizontal distances are the same as "map" or "flat" distances as would be viewed from a high elevation. The slope of the surface of the ground is taken into account when performing surveying measurements. Steep slopes and features such as streams can result in a slope distance, or distance along the surface, that is considerably longer than the horizontal distance, as illustrated above.

    • Diagram 3

      Acreage is a measurement of surface area. It is not fixed as a square or other shape. Any shape has area, even if challenging to calculate. Each of the shapes above contain one acre of surface area. As can be seen, the shape and distance around the outside of the shape can vary greatly yet still contain the same surface area.

    • Diagram 4
      Example latitudes and longitudes of the state capitals of Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

      GPS coordinate, also known as geodetic coordinates or "lat/long", consists of two components. The first is the latitude. This is the angular measure from the center of the earth as referenced to the equator as being at zero degrees and the north pole as ninety degrees. The closer to the equator a location is, the lower the value of the latitude. The second component is longitude, which is the angular measure along the circumference of the earth in a clockwise direction as referenced as Greenwich, England at zero degrees. Latitude and longitude are expressed in degrees (often degrees, minutes, and seconds) and followed by a letter that designates as being north of the equator and west of Greenwich, England.