A monumental land survey is a type of land survey dealing specifically with the boundaries of the property. All monumental land surveys use physical monuments to mark the boundaries on the land itself. Commonly, the corners of the property are marked with a long iron rod driven vertically into the ground, though there are many other types of physical monuments that may be used. These monuments are designed to be as permanent as possible, though land surveyors many decades ago used wooden posts or natural features which may be destroyed over time, making it difficult to re-trace their work today. Monuments in use today will have a cap on top of the iron rod identifying the surveyor who placed it.
This physical monument allows the easy finding of the boundaries and corners of the property when one is physically on the land, although the monumental land survey itself does have some limitations as far as the other information provided. For example, it usually is not concerned with any improvements on the property, such as fences or homes, and will not determine whether these were built to code or conform to zoning regulations.
Often, a monumental survey is undertaken in combination with other types of land surveys to show additional information about the property. For example, a monumental survey may be combined with a title survey, which will examine more than the boundaries in determining anything affecting ownership of the land in question.
In many cases, a monumental land survey may be undertaken when there is a dispute over the exact land boundaries. For example, if a fence has been built or is about to be built on the land, a monumental land survey can mark the exact corners and the boundary between the two properties so that the fence’s position with regards to the legal property boundary can be evaluated. The monumental land survey is also useful when in the planning stages of a construction project.
Before a land surveyor may place the monuments, there are many other steps to take, many of which are actually done away from the property in question. In fact, placing the monuments is near the end of the monumental land surveying process. First, the surveyor must clarify exactly where the boundary should be located by looking at the title and legal description of the property, among other information. Then, these boundaries must be measured on the land itself before they can be marked, and the surveyor will search for any preexisting corner monuments from previous surveys, evaluating their accuracy to determine whether the boundary was correctly placed by the previous surveyor. Finally, the new monuments are set into place.
Boundary monuments are placed at every corner of the property, including any angle or change of direction of the boundary line. The survey data is then recorded in a land survey plat. The official recording of this survey will provide a basis for any future land surveys of the property. If such information is never recorded properly, it will not be available for future land surveyors if the land is re-surveyed at any point in time. This information includes a scale drawing of the land and its boundaries, all necessary dimensions to allow a surveyor to establish the property boundaries while in the field and a detailed description of all monuments found or used on the property.