PLAT OF SURVEY: How To Read The Plat of Survey


Even if you own land, you might not know what a plat of survey is. A plat of survey is a method for precisely creating an official, drawn-up map of a plot of land. Read on to discover how to interpret a plat of survey, survey cost, a plat of survey for my property, and a whole lot more.

A system that uses geographic features, distances between precisely defined points, and various directions is frequently used to determine a parcel’s borders to create a plat. Occasionally, the parcel is broken up into portions that are described in metes and bounds. Then, with a defined starting point, the boundaries of the plot of land are visually described while traveling in a circle around it till it reaches the starting position.

What is a Plat of Survey

A plat of survey is a scaled map that shows the division of a plot of land. Plats can also be used to legally designate easements for roads and other Right-of-Ways. In essence, it shows your house on your land, replete with easements, setbacks, and lot lines.

A plat is an official map of a geographical region that shows the boundaries of several land parcels at a smaller scale. A plat survey is utilized to create this map as accurately as possible. Land divisions are frequently described using metes and bounds. This is a technique for locating various boundaries that makes use of geographical characteristics, compass bearings, and distances between sites. These lines are drawn from a starting position, encircling the region, and then looping back to the starting point.

For homeowners, these surveys are useful in ascertaining the precise property lines. Engage a surveyor to measure the corners of the subdivision and section, existing property markers (such as fence lines, iron rods and pipes, stones, survey markers, and drill holes), and lines of occupation. The boundaries of the actual property will be determined by comparing these measurements to the property deed. Some persons can hold more or less property than they are authorized to.

How to Read a Plat of Survey 

A survey plat typically includes information on the surveyor, a brief description of the document, information about how it was created, a legend describing the symbols on the plat, and the name of the owner of the next land.

Locate the North arrow before beginning to study a plat. You will then be able to locate the property on the ground. Find the survey legend next. On the survey plat, symbols can be seen denoting monuments, easements, structures, and other details as well as where pins from previous surveys were discovered (existing pin), where pins were set by the surveyor who prepared the survey (pin placed), and more.

Now locate the starting point for the parcel. Typically, survey plats “hook in” to a USGS marker or a recognizable location, like the intersection of two highway rights of way or a corner of a previously surveyed parcel of land. The survey plat will display a line or set of lines from that location (the “beginning point”), with various places along the line highlighted, leading to the parcel that was surveyed. The “point of commencement” or “beginning point” is the location where the lines intersect the surveyed parcel. These locations are designated as the “starting point” and “point of beginning” in several surveys.

You can follow each section of the boundary after locating the starting point until you reach the starting point again.

Degrees are divided into smaller units called minutes and seconds.

Related Article: BUYING A MANUFACTURED HOME: Complete Step-by-step Guide

Consider yourself facing North to help you grasp this idea. 90 degrees East of North would be direct to the right of you (to the East). If you turned around, you would be 180 degrees south of north and facing south. You would then turn to face West, which is 90 degrees west of North.

You can read survey maps backward as well. It is possible to characterize a line that goes N 15° 30′ 45′′ East as moving S 15° 30′ 45′′ West. Everything depends on the way you are facing as you follow the line.

Along with deed references indicating where descriptions of additional properties can be located in property records, you might also notice digits indicating lot numbers on plotted subdivisions or parcels of land.

You can receive a copy from the relevant office or even download a copy of a survey plat. It must show that it has been recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds (North Carolina) or the Clerk of Superior Court (Georgia). Some plants, however, are not kept on file. You must ask the surveyor for a copy. In some cases, you would need the consent of the person who acquired the survey.

Plat of Survey Cost

The days of your property’s boundary being delineated by a stone wall or an aging oak tree are long gone. Your property survey will typically cost you $500. However, the price can vary from $200 to $900 based on your landscape’s size, composition, and where you reside. Whether you’re purchasing a new home, or erecting a fence, a licensed land surveyor can pinpoint your exact property lines. Here is a breakdown of land surveying costs.

Land Surveying Cost Factors

The cost of each lot varies. The cost of a survey is determined by several variables, including everything from the quality of the area to the accessibility of records.


The cost of a survey is heavily influenced by the size of your property. You will pay between $0.50 and $0.70 per square foot if your home is less than an acre. The cost of a land surveyor, however, could range from $50 to $500 per acre if you own more than one acre and it has hills and trees. Bulk purchases, like most items, can help you get a better deal. The price per acre is normally cheaper the bigger the property. In both situations, the size and topography of the land account for the large price range.

Special Services

Any specific maps or paperwork you request may incur an additional fee from the surveyor. Some surveyors bill you an hourly consultation cost for their experience if you require them to represent you before a zoning commission, local board, seller, buyer, or legal team and deliver their findings to them.

Terrain Type

Surveying generally costs less in flat, pasture-like territory than on terrain with hills, trees, or other obstacles. In general, flat ground costs less to survey than land with mountains.

Travel  Time

Because surveyors start paying their personnel as soon as they arrive on a site, they frequently charge for any travel time that is clocked. Travel expenses typically include going to your property, going to get records for your property, or going to meet with other land experts to get further assistance with a problematic property. When surveying a property, it’s possible that mileage fees won’t apply until a surveyor’s office is a specific distance away.


When the weather presents difficult conditions, some surveyors may charge more. The presence of foliage can make it challenging to take precise survey measures. Snow and ice can also obscure important bits of data required for a survey. This makes the surveyor’s job more hazardous.

Survey Format

The cost of a land survey may vary depending on why you need one. When more information about the land is required than is necessary to determine property lines, surveyors will charge extra.


A thorough historical, topographical, or resource-based research-based land study may cost closer to $1,000. When records can be accessed online without leaving the office, the fee is often lower. Surveyors may need to physically visit record offices to access land deeds. It takes time and effort to search through county-specific filing systems, which surveyors would probably charge you for. This is a function that some surveying firms fill with research assistants.

Availability of Parcel Information

Land surveys are completed using input from the public. If they have trouble finding deed records, they could have to charge more. This is to cover the cost of the research necessary to find the records. For any research that cannot be done online, most surveyors demand an additional fee. Customers do, however, have the choice to drive to the relevant county offices to collect documents to avoid further fees.

Plat of Survey For My Property

Just by glancing at your house and yard, you can feel certain that you are aware of your property borders. The boundaries between other homes on your block appear to match the neighbor’s fence and the location where you mow your lawn.

Imagine learning that your home was constructed on an entirely incorrect lot after being so mistaken about your property lines. If you and a neighbor disagree about where your property line is, even little errors would cause expensive problems. Here are the things you should know about determining your property borders and how to put that knowledge to use.

Accurately defining your property lines makes it much simpler to finish a project or move forward with a transaction, from permits to purchasing.

It’s not unusual for your mortgage lender to demand that a new survey be done on the property when you buy a house. Even if that’s not the case, your title insurance provider would probably advise getting a fresh survey. This is so you can find out if the neighbor’s carport extends onto your land or if the outdoor kitchen encroaches on a sewage easement, which could be expensive to remove in the future.

Why They Are So Vital

Plat of survey identifies all land features and boundary lines. It provides you with a wealth of details about a plot of property and the residents who live there. They are made for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Naming public access routes and roadways.
  • Ensuring that all property owners have a public access route (like a driveway) to use to enter their land without first infringing on someone else’s property.
  • Ensuring that all properties have access to essential services like power, water, and a sewage system.
  • Establishing land for public use, such as parks, shelters for the homeless, and governmental monuments.
  • Ensuring that all lots adhere to the zoning regulations set forth by the local government.
  • Ensuring adherence to any land use plans intended to limit a city’s expansion. identifying shared neighbors among property owners.

Different Types of Plat of Surveys

There are numerous distinct types of plat surveys to accommodate various goals. These consist of:

#1. Plats of Consolidation. 

These are produced when a landowner acquires several adjacent plots and joins them with his or her own to form a single, larger portion. It is typically the landowner’s responsibility to conduct individual surveys for each of the desired parcels. It is also the responsibility of the owner to submit them for review and approval to the local government.

#2. Plats of Subdivision

A plat of subdivision is made when a landowner desires to divide their property into smaller sections, as opposed to a plat of consolidation. The land must be measured precisely, along with the planned divisions, and then submitted to the local authorities for approval.

#3. Correction/Amending Plats.

On the record of an existing plat, these accurate details are incorrect. Sometimes they are used to move boundaries or other features.

#4. Vacating Plats. 

These render a plat or a portion of it legally void. They are often constructed when all lots remain unsold or when no public or private projects have occurred since the construction of the original plat of survey.

#5. Brief plats

These are employed for dividing land into parts of fewer than four (or more, depending on exact county regulations). They only take place in the state of Washington.

Although surveyors can use plat of survey in a wide range of situations, it is essential for them to grasp their peculiarities and how they work.


Hiring a surveyor to deliver a conclusive response is the quickest solution if you and your neighbor cannot agree on where your property limits are.

You might wish to engage the aid of a real estate attorney if your neighbor is encroaching on your land and won’t quit. If nothing is done, enough time may pass for the encroachment to become a prescriptive easement. This could result in you losing the ability to compel your neighbor to take down a fence or stop utilizing the area of their property that is encroaching on yours.

Plat of Survey FAQs

What do you mean by registry of deeds?

It is a record of real estate deeds or other property titles kept by a member of the local government and is referred to as a register of deeds. All legal records establishing ownership of property are kept in one central location.

How do you read survey points?

Each section will have numbers and characters indicating the distance to the following point as well as the direction the line travels from North. For instance, a segment might contain the notation 166.25′ on one side of the line and N 15° 30′ 45′′ E on the other.

What do survey markings mean?

Key survey places on the surface of the Earth are marked with items known as survey markers, sometimes known as survey marks, survey monuments, or geodetic marks. In geodetic and land surveying, they are employed. A benchmark is a specific kind of survey marker that shows elevation (vertical position).

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