26.1 In General
Surveys, whether recorded or not, are very helpful aids in title examination and every reasonable effort should be made by the examining attorney to obtain copies of unrecorded surveys mentioned in deeds. Frequently, surveys reveal matters existing on the property which are not apparent from an examination of the instruments in the chain of title. For example, surveys may reveal the existence of fences which do not follow boundary lines, the existence of cemeteries, the existence of roadways and easements crossing the property which were not dedicated or deeded by instruments in the chain of title and the location of the improvements on the property or adjoining properties which may create encroachments and give rise to adverse possession claims. In addition to the platted boundary lines, surveys often contain notes and comments by surveyors which are helpful in ascertaining matters of title which may not appear in recorded documents in the chain of title.
Comment: Sometimes notes and comments made by surveyors are ambiguous and the surveyor should be consulted, if possible, to clarify the meaning of any notes or comments. For example, a survey containing the comment “title matters excluded” gives rise to the question as to whether the surveyor has fully revealed all easements and encroachments which may actually exist on the ground and would be observable by the surveyor.
26.2 Surveys Which Meet Minimum State Requirements for Recordation
O.C.G.A. Section 15-6-67 sets forth the statutory requirements for recordation of maps and plats in the State of Georgia. In summary this Code Section deals with the size and quality of maps and plats. For example, the Act requires that maps and plats bear a title or name in the caption, a statement as to the county, city, town, land district, land lot and subdivision in which the property lies, the date of plat preparation, the scale of the plat, the name of the land surveyor and registration number, the reference to a monumented point of beginning and like matters. These standards are helpful in judging the quality of surveys in general and if surveys being reviewed by an examining attorney do not meet these standards, then it may suggest additional inquiry of the surveyor.
26.3 As-Built Surveys
Surveys which are labeled “as-built” generally purport to show in great detail the location of all improvements located on the surveyed property. A survey which does not bear the designation “as-built” does not necessarily purport to show these matters and would suggest additional inquiry as to the location of improvements which might be located on such property.
Comment: Certain minimum standard requirements have been jointly developed by the American Land Title Association and the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. If title insurance is being obtained in connection with a title examination and a survey made in connection with the purchase or mortgaging of the property, then these standards should be consulted. Copies of these standards can be obtained from all title insurance companies. Title insurance companies customarily require surveyors to answer questions on a form called “Surveyor’s Inspection Report” in those cases in which the title insurance company is being asked to insure as to matters of survey.
26.4 Composite Surveys
Surveys which are labeled “composite surveys” or “composite plats” or like terminology do not purport to be surveys made in the field. Such surveys are maps prepared by a surveyor based on other surveys and/or deed descriptions for the purpose of showing an assembly of properties. These surveys are extremely helpful to an examining attorney in examining title to multiple contiguous properties, but should not be relied upon as to matters actually existing in the field and on the ground.