How Do You Read a Land Survey?

A land survey can be daunting to read and understand with its strange symbols and small print. In just a few minutes, however, you can learn to read a land survey just by knowing what kind of survey you have and by using the survey legend.

  1. Identify the kind of survey

    There are many types of surveys, but the most common one is called the boundary survey. True to its name, this type of survey outlines the property's boundaries. You'll know you have this kind of survey when your survey plat shows the property's overall shape, how the boundaries are physically marked and the distance from marker to marker. Other types of surveys, such as construction surveys, show symbols marking utilities and describe locations of minerals, land or water features.

  2. Understand the legend

    A survey legend lists the symbols used in the survey plat. A common symbol is a circle enclosing a dot. This symbolizes a pin used to physically mark the boundary. Carefully read the legend, and look at the corresponding symbols on the map. Use a magnifying glass if your plat is difficult to read.

  3. Read the deed while reading the survey

    The deed generally includes a description of the property at hand. Have your deed handy, and find the starting point of the deed's description on your land survey. As you read each sentence, follow along on the survey.