Resources

Types of Legal Description

Q:

Description by Metes and Bounds

A:
Metes and Bounds Example

Metes and Bounds Example

  • The Metes and Bounds system uses permanent landmarks with “Metes” (distance and direction) and “Bounds” (a boundary object - a tree, a road, a creek, etc.).  The surveyor would have a particular “Point of Beginning”.  Then the surveyor would use measured distances and compass directions (metes) to describe the boundaries of the property, proceeding in a uniform direction around the property and ending back at the “Point of Beginning”.
  • A typical metes and bounds description is as follows: Beginning at a point (POB) on the North side of James Street 50 feet East from the corner formed by the intersection of the East boundary of Peter Road and the North boundary of James Street; thence East 90 degrees 200 feet; thence North 300 feet; thence West 200 feet; thence direct to the POB.

 

Q:

Description by Government Lands Surveys

A:
Rectangular Survey System

Rectangular Survey System

Commonly referred to as the “Rectangular Survey System”.  This system uses Meridian (North and South lines) and Base (East and West lines) lines to create a grid.  The grid is broken down into 6 mile by 6 mile blocks called “Townships”.  These townships are further divided into 1 by 1 mile blocks called sections.  A parcel of land is described by using township names and section numbers, then specific portions of each section.  For example “the North West ¼ of the 14th section of Newtown Township”.

The rectangular land survey system was adopted by the federal government in 1785. It is used in all states except for the original 13 colonies, the states created from these colonies and Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas.

There are geographical locations all over the US that serve as a base reference in land surveys. The principal meridians running North-South and East-West intersect at these locations.

In Florida for instance, they cross at a point in Tallahassee. Beginning at these points, the surveyors established lines every 6 miles North, South, East and West of the crossing point. Each of these squares are called townships. They are 6 miles by 6 miles, thus have an area of 36 square miles. lines running East-West are called township lines. The lines running North-South are called range lines. They are further divided up into areas of 1 square mile called sections. Thus there are 36 sections in a township. Each section contains 640 acres. (See illustration).

The sections are further divided up into quarter sections of 160 acres.

Q:

Description by Lots and Block

A:
Plat Map

Plat Map

The most common method is the “Lot and Block” system.  Almost all modern subdivisions use this system.  A surveyor creates a “Plat Map” that shows the dimensions of each property.  A plat map will also show any easements used by the utility companies and the governing municipality for the property.

Here is a sample of a plat map illustrating a lot described by the Lots and Block Method.  As you can see parcels are irregular in size are platted in relationship to the subdivision Lakewood Fairfield Bay.

Q:

Description by Monuments

A:

Description by Monuments is similar to the metes and bounds with POB being physical, man-made or natural features.