How To Easily Read Your Boundary Survey Pegging Plan

Common Surveyor Symbols

Due to the nature of their work, a surveyor uses numerous physical markings while surveying a property. These markings include flags, tape, and stakes, which may be color-coded or marked with acronyms. This is a short list of some of these markings provided by the Fractracker Alliance. 

Surveyor flags and tape

Surveyor flags (sometimes referred to as streamers) and tape are attached to trees, fences, or a stake placed by the survey. Sometimes these flags and tape will have colors and symbols that explain what the surveyor found in that spot. Other times, these markings may lack symbolism, which could mean it could be part of a path or a proposed work site.

Control Points

Similar to surveyor flags, a control point is a place on the property that the surveyor does not want to be disturbed. Frequently the area will be surrounded by a perimeter line using stakes and tape. In some cases, the metal pins will be used in place of wood stakes.

Limit of Disturbance

Using special stakes and markings, the surveyor will mark the limit of disturbance. This is either the edge of the property or a section of the property that cannon be disturbed. The edge of the property, especially the corners, is usually marked using a boundary survey monument or a steel rod.

Related: Planning and Zoning

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Title Company Requirements

The title company will require a survey before they will issue the title. If the current owner already has a survey, the title company will have to review it to determine if it is acceptable (most are).

If there have been changes to the property like a converted garage or a pool, a new survey is required. If the seller does provide a survey, they must complete (and have notarized) a T-47 form (also known as a Residential Real Property Affidavit).

If the owner does not have a survey, the buyer typically pays the fee. A survey will cost around $350 in Texas.

Being able to read a survey will tell you the exact nature of the property you are purchasing.

This will help you avoid any misunderstandings (including future legal arguments over who owns what).

Learn the Legend

Look at the map’s legend, which is a list of the symbols used on the map and what they mean. Not all maps carry a legend, but you can find lists of land survey symbols at several official institutions like the Bureau of Land Management. Symbols can represent lakes and rivers or bridges and telephone lines. Boundaries for states and counties are represented on the map with different types of lines.

Reading a Plat Map in a Property Survey

Reading a plat map is a straightforward process if you know what you’re looking for. The lot number will be included in the center of each plot of land. The lines that separate each piece of land will show you the dimensions of the property. If there are any easements on the land, this information will be positioned just below the lot number. Some plat maps will even include the square footage of each lot, which can be helpful when you’re trying to determine the size of a piece of land. Since no unnecessary information is included in a plat map, they should never be too difficult to read.

You can use a plat map for numerous situations. If you want to purchase a home or a plot of land, this map will allow you to compare the information on the plat map with the information that the seller is providing to you. If you’re a homeowner, this map can be useful if ever you have a dispute with your neighbor about the borders of your land. The plat map will help you determine where your property ends and where the other begins.

Whether you’re a homeowner or prospective buyer, these maps can be used to your benefit. If you need help buying or selling your Los Angeles County or Ventura County home, contact Nicki & Karen Southern California Luxury Real Estate today to find out more about what these processes entail.

The Legend

The legend of a survey is the key that unlocks the meaning of all of the symbols, lines and colors of the survey.

Every line or symbol on the survey has a corresponding meaning to identify features on the land such as lakes, rivers, utility lines, elevation and depressions in the land, and even the type of vegetative growth on the land parcel, as well as boundary lines.

If the survey does not have a legend (not all do), check out the common symbols online by going to a state or federal website such as the Bureau of Land Management.

Licensed Surveyor Signature

A boundary survey is only valuable if it has been signed by a Licensed Surveyor.

Our example plan has not been signed by a Licensed surveyor (as this is an example only) however the image to the right show gives an indication of what this looks like.

You may receive a plan that titled “Boundary Survey” or similar however unless that plan has been signed by a Licensed Surveyor on the Register provided by the Surveyors Board of SA, it is not an accurate representation of the true location of your property boundaries.

How to Read a Plat Map

The plat map that you receive for a title search o

The plat map that you receive for a title search or when you buy a home will include a significant amount of symbols and numbers, which are used to set the boundaries of property lines, trees, geography, and utilities. The number and name of the subdivision that your land is in will also be included on the plat map. The source of this information will be the office of the county assessor. Each lot of land that’s located in the subdivision will have a house number that’s assigned to it along with a parcel number. These numbers will be underlined and set in a bold typeface, which should make them easy to identify.

The property lines that you see on the plat map will have numbers alongside them. These numbers indicate the dimensions of the lot in question. You should also be able to determine the general shape of the property that you’re considering buying. The parcel number that’s assigned to each lot by the county assessor will include three separate numbers, which extend to the book number, the book page number, and an individual parcel number. The three groups of numbers are readily separated by a hyphen. The book numbers and page numbers are located at the corner of the map. As long as you know what you’re looking at, a plat map isn’t too difficult to read. The majority of plat maps will include a symbol legend that makes it even easier to read.

A plat map is an essential tool for homeowners, realtors, and land developers because of the exhaustive amount of information that it provides. The information on a plat map serves as a legal description of the specific parcel of land, which can be helpful in a variety of situations. This information will allow you to prevent any accidental trespassing on your land and can be highly important when you’re looking to sell or transfer some property.

Surveyor Terms

As with any industry, a surveyor possesses a large vocabulary of technical terms. While some of these terms are common for anyone to understand, some are highly specific. This list explains some of the more common technical terms, but for a more comprehensive list, please read this PDF.

  • Arroyo – A small and steep-walled dry watercourse with a flat floor. Also known as a gulch or gully (most commonly in the American Southwest)
  • Bank – The edge of a stream. 
  • Bed and Banks – Refers to the bottom of a body of water found on the property.
  • Bottom – The land beside a river.
  • Branch – a small stream. Also known as a brook or creek.
  • Drain – A stream that had since dried.
  • Ford – A shallow point in a stream that can be crossed on foot. 
  • Fork – The meeting point of two streams.
  • Gut – A stream that passes through a narrow passed between hills.
  • Head – The source of a stream.
  • Headwaters – Smaller streams that combine to create a larger stream. 
  • Kill – The Dutch word for creek
  • Narrows – A narrow part of a stream. 
  • Run – A small stream.
  • Shoal – A shallow point of a river or stream.
  • Spring – A body of water fed by a natural spring.
  • Thalweg – An imaginary line connecting the lowest points of a stream’s channel. 
  • Vly – The Dutch word for swampy lowland.

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