Minimum Standards for Land Surveys in Nebraska:
These Minimum Standards were duly adopted by the State Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors and have been incorporated into the Rules and Regulations. It is the intent of these Minimum Standards to provide the professional land surveyors and the public with a realistic and prudent standard necessary in the performance of a land survey.
These written standards are established to define the minimum level of performance which is acceptable for land surveys in the State of Nebraska.
The Minimum Standards of this section are the guidelines which shall apply to every land survey performed in the State of Nebraska, except where higher standards for land surveys are prescribed by statute, administrative rule or ordinance, then such higher standards shall govern.
1. When a land survey involves certain corners or lines of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) that are covered under the most recent edition of the “Manual of Surveying Instructions for the Survey of the Public Lands of the United States” prepared by the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Cadastral Survey, then the most recent rules or instructions for these particular surveys shall apply.
2. When a land survey involves certain corners or lines covered by instructions issued by the State Surveyor, then the rules or instructions for these particular surveys shall apply.
3. When a professional land surveyor is engaged by client contract under the current “Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/NSPS Land Title Surveys”, then the rules or instructions for these particular surveys shall apply.
4. A professional land surveyor may be required to perform land survey work at a higher standard by their client when agreed upon by a written contract agreement.
Any term not specifically defined herein shall be as defined in the most current publication of the “Definitions of Surveying and Associated Terms” as published by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) now merged with the National Society of Professional Surveyors. For the purpose of this section, all the definitions listed that differ from any other source are to be interpreted as written herein.
1. “Land Surveying” - Activities as defined in The Land Surveyors Regulation Act, Nebraska Revised Statute, §81-8,109, as amended. Under this definition are included two general types of surveys.
a. An “Original Survey” is where a survey is made and a new description is created from such survey. The Original Survey establishes boundary lines within a tract of land which has previously existed as one unit or parcel, and a line or lines of a parcel or tract is described and monumented for the first time.
b. “Resurvey” or “Retracement Survey” is where an existing recorded description is retraced. A Retracement Survey follows the footsteps of the original professional land surveyor, locating the boundary lines and corners which have been established by the Original Survey.
Appropriate procedures must be used in each case.
2. “Control Survey” - A survey that utilizes and/or establishes primary monuments that form the basis of control, both horizontally and vertically, from which subordinate surveys are referenced into and adjusted. These surveys may include, but are not limited to, route alignments, photogrammetry, topographic mapping and boundary surveys. The positions of the monuments within a control survey provide the standard of accuracy from which subsequent and subordinate surveys are governed.
3. “Responsible Charge” - A position that requires initiative skill and independent judgment of the observations, measurements, and descriptions involved in land surveying work. This term excludes chainman, rodman, instrument person, ordinary drafter and others doing routine work. Responsible Charge does not include the obligation of financial liability.
4. “Direct Supervision” - Refer to Chapter 7, Section 002. for the definition of Direct Supervision.
5. “Subordinate” - Any person directly supervised or managed by a professional land surveyor and employed by the same entity/employer who assists the professional land surveyor in the practice of land surveying without assuming the legal responsibility for such work.
6. “Plat” or “Survey Map”- Any graphic representation of the survey.
7. “Minimum Standard” - The minimum level of performance that is acceptable.
8. “Public Land Survey System (PLSS)” - The surveying method developed and used in Nebraska to subdivide land in the public domain into section, township, and range, platted and approved by the General Land Office of the United States of America.
9. “Linear Error of Closure” - Computed as the square root of the sum of the squares of the error in the north and east coordinates.
10. “Relative Error of Closure” - Computed as the value of the total length of the perimeter of the survey divided by the linear error of closure and expressed as a ratio of one (1) part in 'N' parts.
11. “Client” - The person with whom the contract for work is made. This may or may not be the title owner of the property.
12. “Legal Description” - A written description usually contained in an act of conveyance, judgment of possession, or recognized by law as to the definite location of a property by metes and bounds or by reference to government surveys, aliquot parts, government lots, coordinate systems or recorded maps; a description which is sufficient to locate the property without oral testimony.
13. “Metes and Bounds Description” - A description of a parcel of land by reference to course and distances around the tract, and/or by reference to natural and/or artificial monuments.
14. “Encroachment” - Any structure or obstruction which intrudes upon, invades into the space of, or trespasses upon the property of another.
15. “Corner” - A point on a land boundary at which two or more boundary lines meet or at the end of a single line. It is not the same as a monument, which refers to the physical evidence at the corner's location on the ground.
16. “Monument” - A physical object or structure which marks the location of a corner or other survey point. In public land surveys, the term corner is employed to denote a point determined by the surveying process, whereas the monument is the physical object installed, or structure erected, to mark the corner point upon the earth's surface. Monument and corner are not synonymous, although the two terms have often been used in the same sense.
17. “Natural Monuments” - Objects which are the work of nature, such as streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, bays, trees, rock outcroppings, and other definitive topographic features.
18. “Artificial Monuments” - Relatively permanent objects used to identify the location of a corner. These monuments shall retain a stable and distinctive location and shall be of sufficient size and composition to resist the deteriorating forces of nature, such as, roads, ditches, fences, buildings, power poles, or any other man-made features.
19. “Bench Mark” - An identified stable point, natural or artificial, for which there is a known elevation referenced to an assumed, local, state or national datum plane.
20. “Positional Accuracy” - The difference between the actual position of a monument on the ground and the position as reported by measurements on the plat or map.
21. “Positional Tolerance” - The distance that any monument may be mis located in relation to any other monument cited in the survey.
22. “Parol Evidence” - Evidence gathered by testimony of witnesses. A witness who gives written or verbal testimony concerning positive knowledge of the location of an original monument prior to its destruction is said to give “parol evidence”./p>
(D) Legal Description
A written description usually contained in an act of conveyance, judgment of possession, or recognized by law as to the definite location of a property by metes and bounds or by reference to government surveys, aliquot parts, government lots, coordinate systems or recorded maps; a description which is sufficient to locate the property without oral testimony.
1. Public Land Survey System (PLSS) descriptions shall contain government lot or quarter-quarter section and/or quarter section along with section, township, range, principal meridian, city (where applicable), county, and state.
2. Tax lots, irregular tracts, etcetera, with a record description shall be referenced to the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) as listed in “1” above.
3. Subdivisions shall be referenced as in “1” or “2” above and shall contain such further identifiers as lots and/or blocks, where applicable. A resurvey within a recorded subdivision shall contain the lot and/or block number (where applicable), subdivision name (as titled on original recorded plat), city, county, and state, and where recorded (if necessary) and the term replat (where applicable). The common term “Addition” is often a part of the name of a subdivision and is often confused with the legal term “Subdivision”.
4. Metes and Bounds surveys shall contain sufficient identifiers and dimensions to enable the description to be plotted and retraced and be referenced to corners of record as in “1”, “2” or “3” above.
5. Three dimensional descriptions shall contain the items called for in “4” above and also contain elevations referenced to a bench mark of a defined datum. The vertical datum shall reference a defined national, state, or local datum and shall be clearly identified on the plat.
6. Condominium descriptions shall be as defined in the “Condominium Property Act”, set forth in Nebraska Revised Statutes, Sections 76-801 through 76-894, as amended.
(E) Research and Investigation
Research of background data shall be conducted prior to beginning the survey. The professional land surveyor shall analyze the data and determine the most logical procedure to follow in conducting the survey. Background data shall consist of, but is not limited to, existing field notes, plats, deeds and ownership records. The professional land surveyor shall list upon the plat the background data used in determining the results of the survey when the facts are questionable, debatable, complex, require additional explanation or not easily understood.
(F) Conduct of Survey
The professional land surveyor shall, personally or under their direct supervision, perform a survey consisting of, but not limited to, the following items:
1. Search thoroughly for necessary controlling monuments and other physical evidence. If recorded or unrecorded monuments are not used, the professional land surveyor must indicate the reason they were not used during the course of the survey.
2. Evaluate the evidence.
3. Investigate possible parol evidence that could support the positions of obliterated monuments and record the necessary statements (signed and dated if possible).
4. Cooperate with appropriate public officials, such as officials of the state, county, city, natural resources district, public power, etc.
5. Take the necessary measurements to verify found evidence.
6. Make sufficient check measurements and computations to satisfactorily verify that the work is correct as shown upon the plat.
7. In the event of the discovery of a relevant disagreement with the work of another professional land surveyor, the present land surveyor shall contact the previous land surveyor, if possible, and attempt to resolve the disagreement.
8. Apply the proper theory of reestablishment of corners in accordance with the Nebraska State Statutes, the most recent edition of the “Manual of Surveying Instructions for the Survey of the Public Lands of the United States”, instructions issued by the State Surveyor under authority of the Board of Educational Lands and Funds, and legal precedent.
9. Set all monuments as required to complete the survey. The professional land surveyor must make a thorough search for existing monuments, both recorded and unrecorded, before establishing a new position for a corner. The professional land surveyor shall accurately show all the data such as angles, bearings, and distances to calculated points that are needed to show how the positions for the established monuments were determined. These may include, but are not limited to, PLSS corners, block corners, right-of-way lines, and meander lines. In situations where construction activities make it impractical to set corners on a Plat or Certificate of Survey at the time of recording said document, the professional land surveyor shall set the monuments within 60 days from the end of construction and/or in accordance with rules defined by local jurisdictions.
10. Retain all pertinent information, measurements and observations made in the field during the course of the survey in an appropriate and retrievable form, and in a manner that is intelligible to another professional land surveyor.
(G) Plat or Certificate of Survey
The client shall be furnished a record of the survey which shall show and identify the following information:
1. Those items required by the Land Surveyors Regulation Act, Nebraska Revised Statutes, Sections 81-8,108 through 81-8,127, inclusive, as amended.
2. A description and physical characteristics of all found and/or set monuments shall be described accurately.
3. North arrow and scale.
4. Basis of bearing or assumed bearing. When the direction of a line is used to establish any course on the boundary of a survey or used to compute the area, the direction of the line shall be made a part of the plat of survey and shown by angle or bearing or azimuth with a reference given for the bearing or azimuth system.
5. Curved lines shall include sufficient data necessary to compute and plot the curve.
6. When coordinates are shown on the drawing, such as those relating to the Nebraska State Plane Grid Coordinates, Universal Transverse Mercator, or any modified or local coordinate system, then the following information shall be included:
a. The datum on which the coordinates are based.
b. The zone(s) if applicable.
c. Modifications or adjustment factors, such as scale factor, shift or transformation.
d. The source data of the coordinates.
7. When necessary, adjoining parcels may be identified by description or their permanent filing record reference and any gaps or overlaps shall be identified and dimensioned.
8. Easements of record shall be accurately shown upon the plat and survey (where applicable) and referenced by book and page, when requested by the client.
9. Data sufficient to indicate the theory that was applied in finalizing the location of the corners and any data at variance with this theory. Such data should be sufficient so a competent professional land surveyor can make a straightforward retracement.
10. The date of the completion of the survey.
a. Nebraska Revised Statute 81-8,122.01 requires that “The record of survey shall be filed within ninety days after the completion of the survey”, therefore; the date of the completion of the survey shall be defined as such in the following situations:
i. New Subdivision - The date of the completion of the survey shall be defined as being the date the final plat is filed with the Register of Deeds of the county.
ii. ALTA Land Title Survey - The date of the completion of the survey shall be defined as being the date the final survey plat is printed, signed and delivered to the client.
iii. For all other surveys including but not limited to, easements, platted lot retracements, metes and bounds, section subdivision, or any other survey of land or property, the date of the completion of the survey shall be the date signed and sealed by the professional land surveyor.
11. Surveyor's Certificate. A certification by the professional land surveyor shall contain:
a. A statement of the professional land surveyor's authority to perform the survey.
b. That the professional land surveyor personally or under the professional land surveyor's direct supervision performed the land survey.
c. A statement that the survey was made in accordance with the laws applying to land surveying within the State of Nebraska in effect at the time of the survey.
A sample of a Surveyor's Certificate is located in Appendix II.
12. The professional land surveyor's signature, official seal issued by the State Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors, and the date signed.
1. The professional land surveyor shall establish, reestablish, or confirm the location of found permanent monuments at each corner or end point on the boundary lines of the parcel or line(s) being surveyed.
2. The professional land surveyor should avoid placing another monument near the same location of a previously established existing monument marking the same corner if the previous monument is believed to be in its original location. The present professional land surveyor must use good judgment to analyze the procedure of the previous professional land surveyor and consider the era and methods in which the previous monument was placed. The distance and direction between corner locations should be considered when attempting to establish another monument at the same location. If the present professional land surveyor places another monument near the location of an existing monument, the professional land surveyor must clearly identify and reference on the plat the discrepancy by angle and/or distance and indicate the reason for not accepting a previously placed monument.
3. Monuments shall be solidly placed and substantially free from movement. In such cases where the placement of a permanent monument at the true corner is impractical because of circumstances such as instability or likelihood to be destroyed, the professional land surveyor shall set a corner accessory monument and show its relationship by dimension to the true corner on the plat.
a. Witness Corner (WC): Is a monument used where the boundary corner position cannot be permanently established. This monumented survey point is set on the surveyed boundary line, or a prolongation thereof, and it may be stamped and shall be identified as “WC” on the plat.
b. Reference Monument (RM): Is a monument used where a corner position is impractical to monument directly, or a witness corner cannot be set as described above. The professional land surveyor shall set at least two Reference Monuments. These monuments are not set on the boundary lines or prolongation thereof, and they may be stamped and shall be identified as “RM” on the plat.
4. Any monument set shall be constructed of material capable of being detected by commonly used magnetic locators.
a. These monuments shall consist of a minimum:
i. Iron pipe with a minimal inside diameter of one-half (1/2) inch, and minimum length of twenty-four (24) inches.
ii. Steel rod or steel reinforcing rod with a minimal outside diameter of one-half (1/2) inch and minimum length of twenty-four (24) inches.
b. An identification accessory, such as a cap, tag, washer, etc., bearing the registration number of the professional land surveyor responsible for the establishment of the monument, shall be affixed securely to the top of each monument. The professional land surveyor shall not place an identification accessory upon a found monument or remove the identification accessory of another professional land surveyor.
c. When extenuating circumstances dictate, the professional land surveyor may use such monuments as an embossed nail or a nail with an embossed washer or tag which has a probability of permanence. All monuments shall bear the registration number of the professional land surveyor responsible for the establishment or perpetuation of the monument, including perpetuated government corners.
d. Where a corner or a line falls on or within a wall, column line or other physical feature and the placement of a monument is not feasible, the wall, column line or other physical feature shall become the monument by reference thereto, or a Witness Corner may be set as described in Section H.3(a)hereof.
5. All corners of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) shall be monumented and perpetuated in accordance with Nebraska Revised Statutes 23-1907 and 23-1908.
6. All Section, Quarter, and Quarter-Quarter corners of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), established and perpetuated as necessary for the completion of the survey, shall have a minimum of three (3) reference ties, with a horizontally measured distance, recorded to 0.01 foot and accurate to 0.10 foot. If using the minimum three (3) reference ties, each shall be in different 90° quadrants. The purpose of reference ties is to reestablish the corner if lost or obliterated. In situations where physical objects are not readily available upon which to place ties, the professional land surveyor should establish reference monument ties of a suitable, stable, and identifiable material of a different physical characteristic from the monument at the corner point. The professional land surveyor should refer to the instructions issued by the State Surveyor under the authority of the Board of Educational Lands and Funds. Additional references to any substantial natural or man-made features within the vicinity of the perpetuated corner should be called for in addition to the three (3) reference ties required.
7. The maximum allowable reference tie distances should be 200 feet. Measurements taken by EDM total station or GPS may also include the interior angle measured between all the recorded reference ties. GPS measurements should only be used when both the corner monument and the reference tie can be physically occupied.
(I) Priority of Calls
The “Priority of Calls” is a standard set of guidelines to be followed by professional land surveyors. When considered or applied they can assist the professional land surveyor in creating new parcels of land or in retracing previously created parcels of land. They can assist the attorney in litigating disputes as to the title and boundaries of land.
1. Lines actually run on the ground by the creating professional land surveyor.
a. Includes corners established, monuments set and lines marked at the time of the survey. This assumes the professional land surveyor placed the original line where the parties intended it.
2. Calls for Natural Monuments.
a. These monuments are the least likely to be moved. Regardless of distance or angle called for in the deed, when the deed calls to this monument it is interpreted that the intent of the parties was to go to this monument and it is controlling.
3. Calls for Artificial Monuments.
a. These are calls to monuments that have been set by someone or created by man-made means. Artificial monuments may be concrete, rebar, iron pipes, fence corners, etc. For example, iron pins found are controlling, not the distance.
4. Calls for adjoining parcels that are senior in title.
a. These are calls that identify adjoiners in the survey and called for in the descriptions. These are bounds descriptions. These lines were previously established and control, regardless of the bearings and distances.
5. Calls for Bearings and Distances.
a. If no monuments are called for or found and if there are no calls for adjoining owners, the bearings and distances will control. In Nebraska, distances control before bearings.
6. Calls for Area.
a. This has historically been the last priority for a call in a deed. Typically, the area is a calculation based upon the measured lines and therefore it is a derivative of a higher priority feature within the legal description.
(J) Perpetuation of the Land Survey Plat
1. The professional land surveyor shall file a record of all land surveys in accordance with the Land Surveyors Regulation Act.
2. Copies of the records of the survey and other plats provided to the client along with field notes and pertinent data shall be retained and maintained in a retrievable manner by the professional land surveyor and/or their employer/entity for a period of not less than 10 years.
(K) Technical Minimums
1. The professional land surveyor shall determine the appropriate accuracy and make the required measurements necessary to adequately relate the positions of all apparent evidence pertinent to the boundary of the property. In no case shall the accuracy standard have a relative positional tolerance of more than 0.25 feet, plus 100 parts per million (PPM) with the accuracy given at the 95 percent confidence level. The closure and accuracy chart is located in Appendix I.
2. Positional Accuracy Specification and Positional Tolerances.
If radial survey methods, global positioning systems (GPS) or other acceptable technologies or procedures are used to locate or establish points on the boundary survey, the professional land surveyor shall apply acceptable surveying procedures in order to assure that the allowable positional accuracy and/or positional tolerance of such points are not exceeded.
Minimum Standards for Improvement Location Reports:
These standards are the minimum requirements for Improvement Location Reports in the State of Nebraska.
An Improvement Location Report is not represented as a survey or land survey, but rather a report in the form of a plat or map which shows the location of topographic features actually located in a spatial relationship to a tract of land defined by an existing legal description provided by a client. The Improvement Location Report may include the activities of land surveying defined in Nebraska Revised Statute, §81-8,109(4)(d), as amended.
(B) Research and Investigation
1. The professional land surveyor uses the description furnished by the client to perform the Improvement Location Report. If the professional land surveyor determines the description is incomplete, insufficient, or subject to junior/senior rights, the professional land surveyor will advise the client that additional information will be necessary to complete the Improvement Location Report. The professional land surveyor should advise the client that an Improvement Location Report may not be sufficient and that a land survey will be necessary.
2. After all necessary written documents as furnished by the client have been analyzed by the professional land surveyor, the report shall be based on a field investigation of the property. The professional land surveyor shall make a thorough search for physical monuments and analyze evidence of occupation. A minimum of two (2) monuments, acceptable to the professional land surveyor, within the same block in urban situations and within the same section in rural situations, either found or re-established, shall be used.
3. Monuments may be permanent or semi-permanent points such as those commonly recognized by a professional land surveyor including, but not limited to, stones, axles, rebars, crosses, or pipes. Fence lines, mowing lines, hedge rows, etc. are not considered acceptable monuments or representations of the legal boundaries of a tract of land for purposes of defining the boundary of the tract in the improvement location report. Appropriate survey instrumentation and measuring equipment shall be utilized.
4. A professional land surveyor registered in the State of Nebraska should not provide to any party an Improvement Location Report unless in possession of a work order signed by the client as an indication that they have been advised of the difference between an improvement location report and a land survey, and the scope of each.
A document titled “Improvement Location Report” with a sketch of the location and spatial relationship of improvements to the tract of land as located, shall include the following minimum information:
1. Lot or boundary lines with the dimensions from the deed description or recorded plat and any measured distances between found monuments.
2. Major improvements, such as permanent structures, with dimensions and descriptions (e.g., residences, garages, outbuildings with foundations, etc.).
3. Major improvements spatially located on the tract with dimensions to the lot or boundary lines, with two dimensions in opposite directions shown for each object.
4. Distances are to be shown radial or perpendicular to the lot or boundary line.
5. The level of certainty of the measurements indicated by the significant digits of each dimension or by means of a general note. Examples:7.25' (±0.05'), 12.5' (±0.5'), 20' (±1')
6. Monuments accepted and described.
7. Easements provided to the professional land surveyor by the client.
8. A north arrow and scale.
9. A statement that the accompanying Improvement Location Report is a representation of the conditions that were found at the time of the field investigation and that the document does not constitute a land survey and is subject to any inaccuracies that a subsequent land survey may disclose.
10. A statement that the information shown on the Improvement Location Report may not be used to establish any fence, structure, or other improvements.
11. A statement whether the parcel dimensions shown are based on plat or deed information and those verified by measurement as shown.
12. A statement that the Improvement Location Report represents only visible improvements.
13. The legal description of the tract of land included on the report.
14. The professional land surveyor's signature, seal, and date of the report.
|Remarks and Formula|
|Unadjusted Closure (maximum allowable)||1:10,000||Traverse Loop or between Control Monuments (closed traverse)|
|Angular Closure (maximum allowable)||25"√N||N = Number of Angles in Traverse (closed traverse)|
|Accuracy of Bearing||1:10,000||In Relation to Source (closed traverse, radial or GPS)|
|Linear Distances Accurate to: (maximum allowable)||0.05 ft +
± 0.1 ft
per 1,000 ft
|Applies when the distance is not part of a Closed Traverse (radial or GPS)|
|Unadjusted Closure (maximumallowable)||0.1' + 100 PPM||PPM = Parts Per Million (closed traverse, radial or GPS)|
|Calculation of area - accurate and carried to nearest ____
(decimal place) of an acre (closed traverse, radial or GPS)
|0.01||To 1 acre|
|0.01||To 10 acres|
|0.01||To 100 acres|
|0.01||To 1,000 acres|
|Elevations for Boundaries Controlled by Lakes, Contours, Rivers, etc. Accurate to:||0.4 ft.||Based on Accepted Local Datum (closed traverse, radial or GPS)|
|Location of Improvements, Structures, Paving, etc.||± 0.5 ft.||(closed traverse, radial or GPS)|
|Adjusted Mathematical Closure to Survey (Minimum)||1:50,000||(closed traverse, radial or GPS)|