Stake Out Details

I’m interested in playing with the stake out features. Here’s on the USA is there a website I can go to that will tell me the coordinates for the boundaries of my property that I own?

You might have a county tax appraisal site with GIS that you can get it from, but for the sake of playing you could just pull them from Google Earth. You could pull some other points as well. When I do GPS testing at the school near my house I use their manholes which are pretty easy to get close to the center of. Or you could make points in a GIS software like QGIS.

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I found a few county websites that I found my property but it doesn’t seem as if any of them tell me the exact coordinates for each of the corners of the property. Should there be somewhere that has that information?

Which county? I will checkout their site.

Allegheny County in Pittsburgh PA. Thanks.

My home state! Lancaster… I’ll take a look in a bit and let you know if I find the GIS portal and if it has annotation capability.

Being a land surveyor, most GIS assessor sites are useless for positioning. In our state of SC, maybe only 10% of the property surveys are actually referenced to the NSRS. My friend runs the county’s GIS system here and has difficulty mapping parcels that are from old surveys. The system of parcels not geo-referenced are basically fitted to existing landmarks and roadways like a jigsaw puzzle. Boundary accuracies at best are 10-50’. He always compliments me when our surveys are submitted into the system as “they fit like a glove”. He says then the hard work begins by refitting all the surrounding parcels to our survey

If you’re expecting any accuracy from parcel data, good luck. You’ll be disappointed, at least in rural areas like SC. My dad and our firm have been avocates for the requirements for all surveys tied to the NSRS for at least 30 years. It has repeatedly fell on deaf ears by local agencies.

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I found their GIS website and it does not appear to have the ability to create and/or export shapefiles below the county level or manually on the map so you would be best served with the other options I provided.

This is totally subject to where you are and what kind of GIS systems are used. While the Land Title Surveys themselves may not be referenced, the data almost always is in our region and that data is available in DXF and shapefile formats from many of our municipality sites.

Even if they are geo-referenced I wouldn’t use for true boundary work. Only recorded deeds and plats. It might get you in the ballpark for looking but I still don’t trust for any boundary work. If you do, it’ll get you in a bunch of trouble. Most GIS sites state that this is for informational and tax purposes only

So if I wanted a surveyor to come out and lay stakes, where would they get the information to do that or are you saying that those stakes could be 10’ to 50’ off?

From recorded deeds and plats, as well as physical evidence on the ground. GIS sites are just a starting point for the Surveyor. Usually, title information is listed on the parcel in question. The research for copies of deeds and plats are found in the register of deeds office. Then the fun begins in the field.

The OP is trying to “play”.


The fun actually begins in the office. It used to be gathering recorded information and reading field notes in order to line out a crew. Now most of that is coming off of an existing CAD files unless you are a large metes and bounds surveyor in which you probably don’t have a CAD and even if you have one for the subject you may or may not have one of the adjacent properties. Surveying takes allot of work that most people don’t even think about, especially when monuments are missing and need to be reset. Traversing control is a whole other type of surveying.


I took my pair of M2’s out to a friends property to help him mark his unknown stakes. We used a town provided survey to pre-create the shape of his property using the sector information and distances provided in QGIS before heading out. (the first thing we noticed was the road frontage listed was slightly more than double what it could possibly be … so we were not off to a good start)

I set up over a clearing in the morning with the base station and ran the unit for 5 hours to collect data. When I returned later I downloaded a CORS station I knew was “close” and post processed the base station raw data to get a known point.

I then manually entered the known point into the base station and went to gather the pins he had previously found on his property with my M2 rover. Returning back to my computer I exported those points into my QGIS map I had previously created and attempted to align the shape of his property with the collected points … surprise surprise they were “off” :confused: (by 1 meter in one case)

We averaged out the difference and started to mark things out … needless to say while I am sure the points I staked out with the rover were accurate I don’t trust the shape / information we were provided as one of his stakes were literally across the street which didn’t match the towns drawing.

We now have him looking to find his deed, and see if he can get his neighbors deeds or find any of their pins where we can draw a line off of … fun times.


Welcome to the life of the surveyor!


Out of curiosity, why are so many borders out of boundaries?
Lack of systematic and common GIS plan?

The method of surveying is based on visual methods and not GPS based methods. So dumpy level / transit / prism pole / prism / lasers etc. And in the case of property lines they are going off a deed, trenching through rough terrain, and often with just a vector (like 80 degrees SE [which is really 110 degrees on a compass but you have to also account for magnetic declination >__< ] then a distance [if your lucky as sometimes they have a +/- or some other indicator stating it is a rough estimate of distance]) That said it is very, very systematic and “common” as it is used as a standard for all measurements.

I have taken these descriptors and mapped them out in QGIS previously then rotated the whole shape to match the current magnetic declination … sometimes it is good sometimes not so much. In the latter it is hard to tell if the survey was done with true north in mind or not. :confused:

Also another thing to keep in mind … even with the current Emlid products you can still only get a float solution in some cases where there are obstructions … even with LORA.

For fun I had setup for an hour in the woods with a single M2 and post processed the logs to get an average point and the accuracy was +/- 200m if I recall … that is HUGE! Same location, setup in a clearing and I got +/- 2mm … :wink:

Oh and we haven’t even started to talk about regional, or local ground movements which are not captured even at datum monuments yet :smiley: … we are going to be measuring points in space,time,and gravity (geoid models)


Sounds like its the same all over the globe (here too). E.g your property is from this rock, 200m in south, south/east direction where those trees are and along ditch for x meters etc etc. And its written down in paper or rock some where, if you are lucky to have that info.
US is bigger so the “problem” is equally bigger , I guess.


When I get to go out in field ( which is mostly never), if I’ve got good achival deeds and plats of the property, I enter in CAD and try and orient to some local feature such as road intersections or other features than can be seen on aerial imagery. I download the data and it’s probably within 2-3 meters of actual state plane coordinates. If I find any corners, I’ll rotate and translate the deed coordinates to my field data, then I can actually search by staking out to the actual corners. Then you can see the survey accuracy of the deed or plat of the property. Some of the old surveys done in the 20’s and 30’s here were actually fairly accurate with the equipment they used (transit and tape). There were about 3 old surveyors from that time period here that were pretty confident in their work. Usually, their marks and accuracy were fairly good ( +/- 2-5 ft) especially in the hilly terrain here. The old compass surveyors were another story. Most of their work wasn’t that accurate (+/- 10-100 ft or more). You basically have to find their monumentation as described or use hedge rows or occupation lines. Many times, we usually have to also survey the adjoiner’s lands to verify the true corners of the property. It’s like a treasure hunt and mostly it’s fun !!