October 19, 2022

How to Understand a Land Survey?


Land-survey maps can be confusing, but they are essential for determining property topography and official property dividing lines. According to Land Surveyor LLC, every land-surveying job is handled differently, making it difficult to understand the subtle difference among land-survey results. However, if you follow the right steps, you can take the mystery out of a land-survey report. With just a little prior knowledge, even a novice map reader can understand a land-survey map in only a few minutes.

1) Open the entire land survey on a large flat surface. It can be difficult to read and understand the survey results properly if you’re not able to view the entire survey as one cohesive document.

2) Scan the document for an official state or county seal. If there is no seal or emblem on the survey, then it is only a preliminary, unofficial mapping of the property. While this survey may be useful for understanding the property’s basic features and estimated boundaries, the property lines have not been verified by the county recorder. As a result, the information on the map is still considered tentative and does not establish actual property lines or ownership.

3 ) Locate the map’s directional indicator. It’s important to orient the map so that the north is pointing up. Even if you must turn your head to the side to read the slanted or misoriented text, a standard map is read with north facing up.



4) Locate the map key, which is usually found in one of the map’s corners. Every land-surveying company will use slightly different symbols to represent crucial survey items. However, despite different labeling, virtually every survey will include symbols for standard items, including water, elevation, property boundaries, roads, structures, and a distance scale.

5) Use a ruler to accurately understand the distance scale. This is especially important considering that many survey maps do not contain a grid. A ruler will help you accurately measure the distance between property boundaries.

6) Identify important landmarks on the map. It can be difficult to determine your property’s physical boundaries if you do not use landmarks as reference points. If the survey was made recently, small stakes or orange flags may still mark the property’s edge, making property lines easier to see. However, for an older survey, the landmarks are almost always essential for a full understanding of the boundary.

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