August 25, 2008

Land surveys

Shouldn't that be a straight line?

Sitting here on the terraza looking across at my neighbor's plot markers, I have to tell you that anyone who doesn't get an independent survey of property they are considering buying in Honduras is CRAZY!

The owner split the property into two lots and then later into three. Every time she showed the property, she would spend 10-15 minutes looking for the markers and sometimes I would see her just throwing up her arms as if to say "Who knows?" At various times, I've seen her try to poke a stick into the hard ground to mark the boundaries.

For years, El Jefe and I joked about finding the property boundary markers for her, sticking an iron bar in, and painting it red, just to avoid having our dogs bark at strangers for such a long period as they search for the markers to show potential buyers each time. The owner has finally read my mind, and has had red painted pvc pipe placed where the boundaries are 'supposed' to be.

At least twice that we've witnessed so far, she has sent a couple of guys out to mark the new division of the lots. Talk about bozos! They use a flexible tape all twisted up and hanging slack for starters. Most importantly, they don't consider the steep slope of the property. Ten meters measured straight across doesn't relate at all to ten meters measured down a slope!

property boundary markersThe second and third lots are steeply sloped and I've seen the measuring guys scratching their heads as they compare the diagram to their measurements and adjust and readjust the markers.

I know nothing about how land surveys are done but I know enough math to know that this won't work.

Just look at the photo! You can see that the markers at the top of the property bear no relation to the one at the bottom on the slope. In fact, the two markers on the level part of the property don't even make a straight line when compared to the line of the (straight) street in front. They must have had the tape measure snagged up on a weed or something.

How is this supposed to be done anyway? Anyone know? I suppose if your property is on the side of a mountain there would be no other way but to measure the distance down the hill. Does that mean if we filled in our sloped property we would miraculously then have more property? But obviously in this case where most of the property is level and one side slopes it can't be measure purely by distance down the hill.

The original developer placed markers, most of which our constructors just pulled up and threw away because they "were in the way." The developer told us to just go ahead and take an extra meter or two at the back by the creek since no one would care. Seriously! He told us that.

No, we didn't. I was too worried about someone coming along later and telling us that we had to knock down and move our muro (concrete fence).

So if you find that your neighbor has built his fence across the middle of what you thought was your property, don't say that you weren't warned!
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