Posted By Alexander Thorp on 4/4/2010 at 11:59 PM

Do you always inform your clients in advance of setting monuments to mark a corner? If there is uncertainty or a dispute about the line, do you behave differently in this respect?


I've been working on a retracement survey in western MA, involving a small lot subdivided out of larger acreage in the mid 1960's - thankfully a relatively recent subdivision.

My client hired me to do a retracement survey (I think) because she was unsure where the property line was in relation to a neighbor, who had been cutting trees near the line.

I did the research back to the point of common ownership, and then headed to the field, where I found a number of iron pipes marking the property lines. After analyzing the data, and the corresponding deeds, I concluded that three of the iron pipes were original, and marked the property lines, giving me the basis to set a missing corner at the southerly end of the line in question.

After looking again for the missing iron pipe called for by the deed, I decided while my instrument was still set up, to set a new rebar pin at this location, defining a line which happens to be not parallel with a row of planted pine trees near the property line.

My client was not home this day. However, the adjoiner had been out each day I was doing work, and this day was no exception. "Looks like you hit gold" he said as he approached after I had set the pin. I explained that I believed the pin I had set marked the southerly end of the line, and further that the line ran straight from the new pin to another iron pipe that I had recovered and which he understood to mark the northerly end of the line. From what I could tell, he thought it was right.

Now, though I have a written contract with my client to perform a retracement survey and to set pins, I did not specifically inform my client that I was going to set this pin before doing so.

And, after I left the site, the adjoiner promptly took it upon himself to communicate with my client the information he had gained from me. And, in turn, my client was not comfortable with this. She felt that she hired me to do the survey and that she should have found out before her neighbor did. Further, that she may not have wanted to disclose the location of the line if it was a disadvantage to her.

I spoke with her by phone, and apologized for not having communicated with her before setting the pin. I could have done that. In an effort to make up for that, I offered to set wooden stakes to mark the line at no extra cost. I thought she accepted that offer.

Next day, I get a long letter from her saying she's still bothered and wants me to give her a discount on the cost of the work. She has now concluded that she didn't need a "survey" - she just needed the "information" about where the line was located, so then she would decide what to do with it, and as a result of my giving the "information" to the adjoiner she couldn't make that choice.

I'm looking for some feedback on this situation. I'm sure many of you have been in a similar position in the past, and maybe you've learned something from it.

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