Land Record Systems: What to Know When Preparing a Land Survey

May 2, 2012 — 1,330 views  

Owning property requires a lot of documentation, especially when you want to make changes to the landscape or dimensions of a plot. Whenever you want to apply for a boundary change, divide your land into multiple parcels, transfer ownership, build a fence or erect a structure on or near a property line, you need to conduct a land survey.

One of the oldest land survey methods dates back to the original 13 colonies and is called the metes and bounds system. Developed in England centuries ago, metes and bounds are descriptions of property that are composed using landmarks, roads and other nearby features to describe a plot of land. For instance, this kind of description might look as follows: "A parcel bounded by Weeden Drive, Lucas Avenue, and Jonquil Drive, and further described as commencing at a point of beginning at the Northwest corner of the intersection of Weeden Drive and Jonquil Drive." Most land surveys that are conducted using the metes and bounds system also include latitude and longitude coordinates.

A platted subdivision system might also be incorporated into a land survey. Many existing neighborhoods in the United States were carved out of prior properties, which were often farms or fields sold to real estate developers. Consequently, many municipal governments will keep records of these areas, or plats, on record for later consultation so surveyors and property owners can find out exactly how far their properties extend.