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The Nevada Connection – April 2022

Chairman's Message

By Michael Kidd, PLS

Mr Kidd was elected by the Board to serve as chair effective July 1, 2021.  He was initially appointed to the Board by Governor Brian Sandoval July 1, 2014. Governor Sandoval reappointed Michael, July 1, 2017, to serve his second three-year term.  His was reappointed July 1, 2020, to serve his third three-year term by Governor Steve Sisolak.

This is the second newsletter of my tenure as chairman, and I am very happy to report that the board is returning to new normal for operations after two plus years of COVID-19 disruptions. The pandemic has shown us that we can easily adapt to remote work and virtual meetings while continuing to improve services. We are resuming in-person board meetings, while still offering a virtual meeting option for the public and others who want to join our meetings but are unable to attend in person. 

The Professional Association Liaison (PAL) committee brought an issue to the board’s attention last year. Entities and professionals requested a review of the plan submittal process to look at both the quality of submittals and efficiency of the process. In response, we worked with the City of Henderson to create the Quality of Plan Submittal Task Force (QPSTF). The subsequent working meetings were very productive, and the QPSTF is currently drafting a best practice guide that the board anticipates will be available on our website.

And near to my heart as a professional land surveyor, we are currently reviewing all the PLS regulations, as they were last updated in 1997. As the process proceeds, we will solicit input from our licensed professional land surveyors and other interested parties. Stay tuned.

We also want to encourage our licensed professional land surveyors to participate in a professional activities and knowledge study, or PAKS, for the NCEES Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam. See the story below for more information.

And continuing with land surveying news, the College of Southern Nevada is working to offer a 4-year land surveying degree. This would be the second school in Nevada to offer the degree (Great Basin College in Elko is currently the only school to offer a 4-year degree in Land Surveying/Geomatics). We’ll keep you posted as this develops.

With license renewal approaching for licensees with last names S-Z, the board is hosting two webinars on May 16 and 17. This gives licensees an opportunity to fulfil the PDH requirement for two hours in professional ethics and one hour reviewing NRS and NAC chapters 625. See below for details.

For details on board activities, be sure to read the following:

  • Professional Ethics and Nevada Law Webinars
  • Importance of Contracts
  • NCEES PS Exam PAKS
  • Nevada by the Numbers
  • Compliance Corner

Nevada Law and Professional Ethics Webinars

 Join us for two webinars that will satisfy the  requirement for 1 hour to review NRS and NAC chapter 625 and 2 hours of professional ethics.

Nevada Chapter 625 Statutes and Regulations Webinar
 Monday May, 16 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm PDT
Professional Ethics Webinar
 Tuesday May, 17 – 11:30 am to 1:30 pm PDT

+ Add to Google Calendar  |  + Add to iCalendar


The link to join both webinars is https://zoom.us/j/8286438008

For those unable to participate live, the sessions will be recorded and will be available on the board’s website Thursday, May 19, 2022.

 

Importance of Contracts

In March we published a blog on the importance of contracts. We thought it was worthy of a reminder, so we’re repurposing it here.  To read the original blog, go here.

Hopefully you already know the importance of contracts. The regulation requiring written contract has been in place since late 2010, but it was amended in 2019. NAC 625.545 states that a written contract is required for each client.

The regulation states:

Before performing any work, a licensee must enter into a written contract with each client. The written contract must include:

  • Scope of work;
  • Cost for completion of the work; and
  • The anticipated date for completion of the work; and
  • A disclosure as to whether the licensee currently maintains a policy of professional liability insurance.

Let’s take a look at the four key parts of the regulation.

Scope of Work (SOW)

At a minimum, the SOW should describe the parameters of the project—the type of work you’re going to perform, a timeline with anticipated start and completion dates, specific methods and techniques, and deliverables. It should also describe the working relationship between you and your client, including financial terms.

Cost for Completion of the Work

The second requirement might seem obvious, but it is the most common source of complaints the Board receives—“­A client expected to pay X but was charged Y”.

Completion costs are difficult to estimate but including conditional clauses in your contracts can help prevent disputes. And explaining ahead of time that some costs are outside your control, such as third-party local, county and state authorities.

The anticipated date for completion of the work

Delays are common—and often outside your control—but allowing for potential delays and including language that explains how they will affect the project schedule, can prevent complaints filed against you. Communicate with your client during the ENTIRE project—not just the beginning and end.

A disclosure as to whether the licensee currently maintains a policy of professional liability insurance

Section two of NAC 625.545 was added to the regulation in 2019. This addition does not require that professional liability insurance be carried, only that full disclosure be provided to the public/clients, allowing them to make informed contractual decisions.

Conclusion

While NAC 625.545 specifies that every contract include certain items, it really should be viewed as a basic guideline. A detailed and well written contract is a mark of professionalism. And although all contracts are legally binding, the best contracts include enough detail about the project to satisfy you and your client while also preventing disputes.

NCEES - Professional Activities and Knowledge Study (PAKS) for PS Exam

NCEES is currently seeking licensed professional surveyors and mapping scientists to participate in a professional activities and knowledge study, or PAKS, for the Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam. The results of this study will be used to update the specifications for the exam, which is used throughout the United States for licensing purposes.

NCEES requires a cross section of licensed professional surveyors and mapping scientists—including those working in consulting, the public sector, and academia—to complete an online questionnaire about the knowledge, skills, and abilities required of a newly licensed surveyor or mapping scientist to practice in a manner that safeguards the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The questionnaire can be completed in 35–45 minutes.

“These studies help NCEES ensure its licensing exams reflect current professional practice,” explained Chief Officer of Examinations Jason J. Gamble, P.E. “We need input from as many professional surveyors and mapping scientists as possible to ensure that the PS exam continues to meet the demands of the profession.”

To learn more and to participate in the study, click here.

Nevada By The Numbers

The total number of active Nevada licenses reached 13,543 to date in 2022. There are generally more comity licensees from the western states, but Florida, Illinois, Ohio,  and Georgia each has over 200. Illinois is equal to Nevada neighbor Oregon at 261, and there are more international licensees than New York licensees.

Nevada Board Compliance Actions

Jason Caster, PLS #019338
Case Number: 20210004
Violation of NRS 625.410(2), NRS 625.565(2) and NAC 625.545

In July 2019, Mr Caster was hired to perform a boundary survey on a property and requested, through email, that Mr Caster locate property corners, stake them, and create an exhibit. Mr Caster completed the boundary survey in August 2019. In September 2019, the client requested Mr Caster to perform a topographic map and encumbrance survey. The survey was completed in October 2019. In June 2020, the project had been through the design and review process and subsequently permitted.

During construction, it was discovered that Mr Caster’s survey was “busted” horizontally by approximately 6 feet and vertically by 7 inches. In June 2020, Mr Caster was made aware of the error. Subsequently, the client, through his company, filed a court action for damages against Mr Caster. In February 2021, Mr Caster filed for bankruptcy.

Mr Caster planned to use the boundary survey as the basis and control for the topographic survey, but Mr Caster did not perform the topographic map himself. Rather, Mr Caster had an employee of his company that is not a Professional Land Surveyor do the field work and create the map. Mr Caster failed to notice the errors in the topographic survey, and Mr Caster’s failure to maintain responsible charge of the work performed resulted in the errant map being released to the client.

No formal contract was executed between Mr Caster and the client. Mr Wagner and Mr Caster exchanged emails for surveying services, including the scope of the project, cost, and time frame. Mr Caster indicated to client that a contract for the work would be forthcoming, but no contract was ever presented to the client. Additionaly, Mr Caster did not disclose to the client that he did not have professional liability insurance until after the damage was done.

Pursuant to NAC 625.640, a disciplinary was resolved without a formal hearing by a Stipulated Agreement. In the settlement agreement with the board, Mr Caster stipulated that he violated NRS 625.410(2) and  NRS 625.565 (2), as he was grossly negligent in fulfilling his obligation as demonstrated by not being in responsible charge of his employee’s work. Mr Caster further stipulated that he violated NAC 625.545 by failing to provide an appropriate written contract to a client prior to completion of work he performed.

The following terms were imposed in Stipulated Agreement between Mr Caster and the State Board:

  1. Mr Caster’s Nevada license shall be suspended for three (3) years following entry of this Agreement, pursuant to NRS 625.410 (2) and NAC 625.530, but with the suspension stayed and probation imposed for the duration of that time period.
  2. Mr Caster shall submit detailed bi-monthly probation reports to the Executive Director of the State Board, which shall report any work completed in Nevada during the previous two (2) month period. The first report shall be due within two (2) months of the effective date of this Stipulated Agreement. Further, when stamping any work in Nevada, Mr Caster shall have his work reviewed by another Nevada licensed surveyor, and the cost therefor shall be paid by Mr Caster. When submitting his bi-monthly probation reports to the Executive Director, said reports shall include an attestation of review from the Nevada licensed surveyor for any work listed in the probation report that required a  stamp  by Mr Caster.  A probation  report shall  be filed  even ifno work was performed  in Nevada during the previous two (2) month   period.
  3. Mr Caster’s successful completion of probation is expressly conditioned upon his full compliance with the following conditions of probation:

(a) Mr Caster shall pay a fine of Five Thousand and No/100 Dollars ($5,000.00), payable in ten (I0) quarterly payments of Five Hundred and No/I 00 Dollars ($500.00) apiece, the first due three (3) months from the date of acceptance and execution of this Agreement by the State Board, and the final due thirty (30) months from the date of acceptance and execution of this Agreement by the State Board.

(b) Mr Caster shall pay the State Board Two Thousand One Hundred Twenty-Seven and 50/100 Dollars ($2,127.50) as reimbursement of legal and administrative expenses expanded by the State Board in this matter, within six (6) months of acceptance and execution of this Agreement by the State Board.

(c) Mr Caster shall provide to the State Board staff, within thirty (30) days of execution of this agreement by the State Board, an attestation that he has reviewed the current statutes under NRS Chapter 625 and regulations under NAC Chapter 625.

(d) Mr Caster shall prepare a White Paper and submit it to the Executive Director of the State Board within sixty (60) days of the State Board’s approval of this Stipulated Agreement, for State Board review and approval, on the meaning of being in responsible charge of land surveying, as it is defined under Nevada law.

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