Introduction to Legal Descriptions for Surveyors:
Land surveying is the process of measuring and mapping the physical features of a piece of land. It involves the creation of legal descriptions that identify and describe the location and boundaries of a property. Legal descriptions are important because they provide a clear and accurate definition of a property's boundaries, which can be used in legal documents such as deeds, contracts, and property records. In this guide, we will explain the legal descriptions used in land surveying for (State or Province), including metes and bounds, the government rectangular survey system, and lot and block.
Metes and Bounds:
Metes and bounds is a system of legal description that is commonly used in (State or Province). It is a method of describing the boundaries of a property by using a sequence of directions and distances. Metes refer to the boundary lines that are described by their length and direction, while bounds refer to natural or man-made features that are used to mark the boundary lines.
Metes and bounds is one of the oldest and most flexible methods of legal description used in land surveying. This method was commonly used in many states in the United States, especially in the Eastern part of the country, prior to the adoption of the government rectangular survey system. However, metes and bounds is still widely used in many states for describing properties that were not surveyed using the rectangular system, such as rural or irregularly shaped properties.
The metes and bounds system relies on a series of measurements and directions to describe the boundaries of a property. Metes refer to the measurements of the boundary lines, which can be described in feet, meters, or other units of length. The direction of each boundary line is also included in the description, which can be expressed in degrees or compass points.
Bounds refer to natural or man-made features that are used to mark the boundary lines. For example, a boundary line may be described as running "along the edge of the creek" or "along the fence line." Other common boundary markers include trees, rocks, and stakes.
One advantage of the metes and bounds system is its flexibility. This method can be used to describe properties of any size or shape, and it can be adapted to fit the specific needs of each property. However, this flexibility also means that metes and bounds legal descriptions can be more complex and difficult to interpret than descriptions based on other systems.
To ensure the accuracy of a metes and bounds legal description, it is important to rely on the expertise of a licensed land surveyor or civil engineer. These professionals can use specialized equipment and techniques to accurately measure and describe the boundaries of a property, which can help to prevent disputes and ensure that property rights are protected.
To create a metes and bounds legal description, a surveyor starts at a known point on the property and walks the boundary lines, using a compass and measuring tape to determine the direction and distance of each line. The surveyor then records the metes and bounds in a legal description, which can be used to define the property's boundaries.
Government Rectangular Survey System:
The government rectangular survey system is a system of legal description that is commonly used in (State or Province). It is a method of describing the boundaries of a property by using a series of intersecting lines, called range lines and township lines. The range lines run north and south, while the township lines run east and west.
The Government Rectangular Survey System is a method of land surveying and legal description used in the United States and Canada. It was first established in the United States in 1785 under the Land Ordinance Act, and later expanded to other areas of the country.
The system divides land into square-shaped townships, which are further divided into smaller sections. Each township is a six-mile square, and contains 36 one-mile square sections, numbered from 1 to 36. The sections can be further divided into half-sections (320 acres), quarter-sections (160 acres), and so on.
The system is based on a grid system created by intersecting lines that run north-south (range lines) and east-west (township lines). The grid is oriented with reference to a designated point called a principal meridian, which runs north-south, and a base line, which runs east-west. The principal meridian and base line form the starting point for the numbering of range lines and township lines, respectively.
The Government Rectangular Survey System is widely used in the United States and Canada for legal descriptions of land, particularly in rural areas. It is also used for the allocation of land for public and private purposes, such as for the establishment of public lands, private property ownership, and the sale of land by the government.
Each range line is numbered according to its distance from a designated point, called a principal meridian. Each township line is numbered according to its distance from a designated point, called a base line. The intersection of these lines creates a grid system, which is used to describe the location and boundaries of a property.
Lot and Block:
Lot and block is a system of legal description that is commonly used in (State or Province). It is a method of describing the boundaries of a property by using a reference to a recorded subdivision map. The map divides a larger parcel of land into smaller lots, which are assigned unique identification numbers or letters.
The lot and block system of legal description is commonly used in many states in the United States, particularly in urban and suburban areas where land is often divided into smaller parcels for development. This system is based on the recorded subdivision map, which divides a larger parcel of land into smaller lots and assigns each lot a unique identification number or letter.
In a lot and block legal description, the surveyor references the recorded subdivision map to identify the specific lot and block number of the property. The description may also include a reference to any recorded easements or restrictions that affect the property. For example, the legal description may state that the property is Lot 10, Block 3 of the XYZ Subdivision, subject to a recorded utility easement.
The lot and block system is often preferred by developers and builders because it provides a standardized way of describing properties within a subdivision. This makes it easier to manage and transfer ownership of properties within the subdivision. However, this system may not be as flexible as other legal description methods, and it may not be suitable for describing properties that are not part of a recorded subdivision.
To ensure the accuracy of a lot and block legal description, it is important to consult with a licensed land surveyor or civil engineer. These professionals can use specialized equipment and techniques to accurately identify and describe the boundaries of a property, which can help to prevent disputes and ensure that property rights are protected.
To create a lot and block legal description, a surveyor references the recorded subdivision map and identifies the lot and block number of the property. The legal description may also include a reference to any recorded easements or restrictions that affect the property.
You can now Use AI to check your legal descriptions:
Artificial Intelligence is of course not a substitute for working but rather an enhancement to your work as a land surveyor. You can use AI to check your work or use it to provide translations for your legal descriptions. I read from Justin's post here on Linkedin that he is developing an AI Legal Descriptions Assistant which you can test out the first version here. Many more AI tools for surveyors to test out here.
In every state and province, land surveying is an important process that involves the creation of legal descriptions to identify and describe the location and boundaries of a property. Metes and bounds, the government rectangular survey system, and lot and block are three common methods of legal description used in land surveying. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of method depends on the specific circumstances of the property. A professional land surveyor can help you determine the appropriate method of legal description for your property.