View Full Version : Reading a survey plat map?

09-07-2007, 05:13 PM
Hi all
Ok I am trying to read my property plat map.
It is 40 acres. On the West side it has S0 24'27"W on the North side S8959'09"E I know that the S0 is true north and south and that 90 is East and West. What does the ' and " mean. Does it mean that from My north point to my South point that it is 24" 27" west of being true north and south or is that too easy?

09-07-2007, 05:45 PM
All I know is that the (') means minutes and the (") means seconds. As what they mean for a measurement.. ???

Any survey guys out there? ;D

09-07-2007, 06:07 PM
You've listed the bearings, there should also be a distance.

The west side of your property is 0 degrees, 24 minutes and 27 seconds West of South.

The north side of your property is 89 degrees, 59 minutes and 9 seconds East of South.

~Martin :)

09-07-2007, 06:09 PM
I Know its minutes and seconds but what in the world does that mean in measuring feet?!

09-07-2007, 06:23 PM
I Know its minutes and seconds but what in the world does that mean in measuring feet?!

That i the location of ONE known point. You need two sets of coordinates to get a distance.

That is the starting point for a survey of your property. For record keeping processes.

09-07-2007, 06:31 PM
I Know its minutes and seconds but what in the world does that mean in measuring feet?!

Nothing, each bearing has a corresponding distance; listed somewhere on your map and deed!

~Martin :)

09-07-2007, 06:36 PM
Those are Latitude and Longitude lines, which with just the 2 will only give you a point somewhere on your property where the 2 lines intersect each other. Here a good site that explains it all



09-07-2007, 06:38 PM
That i the location of ONE known point. You need two sets of coordinates to get a distance.

That is the starting point for a survey of your property. For record keeping processes.

Sorry, it's actually the bearing of each line (not a point) of the boundary indicated in each compass quadrant....northeast, southeast, southwest and northwest.


09-07-2007, 06:46 PM
So the ' and "dont mean anything just the does.
You all have explained the ' and " but not the 24'27" or the 59'09".

09-07-2007, 06:50 PM
A circle is 360 degrees, each degree has 60 minutes, each minute has 60 seconds.

Each compass quadrant is 90 degrees.

Does that make sense?

~Martin :)

09-07-2007, 06:57 PM
I'll try to find something with graphics that helps make things clearer.

Plat maps have a starting point (or point of beginning), usually the nearest intersection.

The boundaries are bearings and distance, that's all there is to it.

All that is also detailed on your deed.

~Martin :)

09-07-2007, 07:01 PM
Ok, here you go...this should help clear up some of the confusion.


~Martin ;)

09-07-2007, 07:03 PM
Those are Latitude and Longitude lines, which with just the 2 will only give you a point somewhere on your property where the 2 lines intersect each other. Here a good site that explains it all



On a plat map, you use the starting point (point of beginning), distance and bearings to find each change of direction.


09-07-2007, 07:12 PM
I am just trying to find out how far in feet from true north/south is S0 24' 27"W and how far in feet from true east/west is from S89 59'09"E.
If I am going north to south on my property 1329.45' how many feet is it off true north and south and if I am going west to east 1320.04 how many feet is it from true east/west.

09-07-2007, 07:35 PM
You can't convert the bearings to feet...you could however find how many feet off true north or south or east or west a given point on the boundary is from another given point on the boundary, using geometry....but bearings themselves don't convert to feet.

Remember that bearings are the direction of a line and not the location of a point.

There's a reason why Plats are laid out the way the are, it's the easiest way to detail the boundary.
Study the link to get a firm understanding of starting point(the most important fact on the map), compass quadrants, bearings and distance ...from the starting point the boundary is laid out clockwise in bearings and distance.


09-07-2007, 08:35 PM
ok lets try again.
Lets say that I only have a starting point on my property of the NW corner and someone removed the north east corner marker and the southwest corner marker with that in mind and using the ' " from my post above how would I find those corners now. I would go staight south then how far left and right. then go straight east then how far left and right?

09-07-2007, 09:14 PM
The only way that's going to work for you is if the line is 00 00' 00" in any give quadrant, short of that you need to do calculations....but there's more to consider.......

It's much easier to use a surveyor's transit (for the bearings) and if the terrain is not perfectlylevel and I mean perfectly...you're measurments will be off......the measurement of distance is along a perfectly horzontal plane and doesn't follow the ground...you need to use a surveyor's chain for an accurate measurement of distance.

In other words it's not practical for you to determine exactly where a stake should go, It's wise to hire a surveyor.


09-07-2007, 09:20 PM
I don't know if this will help or hinder, but in many communities a square plot of land which is 1 mile by 1 mile is referred to as a "section" of land, or 640 acres. My deed describes my land by what quarter of the section it lies in.

A quarter section is 160 acres. and each of these can be further divided into quarters of 40 acres. I have 20, which is one of the 40s divided in half, giving me a long rectangle, 1/8 of a mile wide by 1/4 of a mile long. If you are lucky, your land will also be plotted this way.

If you are unlucky, your deed will say something like, the fence row to the creek... to the big tree.... to the big rock, 20 acres more or less. In those cases, it's almost NEVER "more", always "less!" ;)

The layout of your property may already be marked on a tax map at the county seat - and that will help you also!

09-07-2007, 09:52 PM
Thanks AlchemyAcres for your input on this.
Here is the story.
i have had my 40 acres for 12 years now, it is out in an area of hundreds of thousands of acrea ranch being sold. I have a storage shed on it which I store my camping stuff. I do know where all my 4 corner survey post are. I have marked staight between them to know where my property line is. I have gone over back and forth several times to make sure they are actually in a straight line from one corner marker to the other. The last trip up there ( I have only got to go there 3 times in the last 4 years I used to go 4 or 5 times a year for 3 to 5 days at time.)
My new Neighbor thinks my property is his. He put up No trespassing sgns on my camp Kitchen my shed and property line, he even spray painted on my shed door his "RANCH" name.
He keeps saying that by his "GPS" my camp is right in the middle of his property.
I do know for sure of my propery line but I just need to know what the ' " mean when I meet with him.
This poor guy does not know his directions when he is at his property.
There is a small mountain on my north side and I asked him which direction is the mountain from his property, he says it back up to it. THERE ARE 4 PROPERTIES THAT BACK UP TO IT. He didnt know which direction it is.
I sure hope I can show and he accepts the truth about it. I really cant afford an attorney for Trespassing, littering and vandalism.
He has a bunch of clay birds all over the my property. funny he must not be a very good shot because must of be 8 or 10 not broken.
Well I meet with him on tuesday at noon. It is a 3+hour trip for me and more for him.

09-07-2007, 10:16 PM
Good fences make good neighbors. *Go for a talk with your neighbor and show him the property markers. *You need to get the money for a survey. *See if he will split the cost. *Maybe even use an attorney since he has vandalized your buildings. *Get a fence as soon as possible. *MV out!

EDIT- *Bring your plat to the county accessors office. *They can explain everything to you.

09-07-2007, 10:21 PM
Sounds like you've got a real troublemaker on your hands.
If I were you, I'd tell him that if he has a problem with the stakes and line, that HE needs to hire a surveyor to reaffirm where the line is.

Stakes do have a way of 'walking' around on their 'own'.

I hope things don't get outa hand for ya....
My Dad has been on the fence business for 30 years and this sorta thing can get WAY ugly!!!

In the end, if there's still a problem, a judge is the only one who can settle it.

Hopefully you can nip it in the bud.

~Martin *;)

09-08-2007, 08:13 AM
I'm glad this came up, because I was wondering the same thing. I recently received a gps for a gift, and thought next time I go out to the land I would just walk to the approximate property line then just turn on the gps and walk until the numbers matched on both the gps and map. I guess I'm wrong, or is there some way to make it work?

09-08-2007, 07:59 PM
Given the coordinates of the starting point, the bearings and the distance on your plat map or deed. You can calculate the coordinates of the destination point.

I don't know much about GPS, I tend to do things the old fashioned way, I'm wondering if some of the GPS units are capable of such calculations? I have no idea. *???

Anyway, I looked up the basic formula...

lat2 = asin(sin(lat1)*cos(d/R)+cos(lat1)*sin(d/R)*cos(brng))
lon2 = lon1 + atan2(sin(brng)*sin(d/R)*cos(lat1), cos(d/R)-sin(lat1)*sin(lat2))

~Martin *:)

09-09-2007, 06:40 PM
I think I have it figured out. The ' and" is the arc of the earth because the earth is not flat.
In my research a hand held GPS accuracy is some where between 10' and 50' or 95%.
I too like using a compass and measuring wheel. Because it is easier to read and its ready to go right away.
I have to meet with this guy at MY LAND on Tuesday at noon to show him where the original survey mark from 1902 is. I will be going up in the morning to put markers along the property line, using a compass with the right declination.
The corner markers are there I just need to show him how to go from east to west straight.

09-09-2007, 07:37 PM

If you google earth, you could print your own map, match up your co ordinates, from your title, with co ordinates from goggle map, it worked well for my lot, and when I compared it to the survey map I received at sale. I was comfortable and impressed on both sets accuracy.

Good luck


09-09-2007, 11:50 PM
I tried google earth and I it doesnt give a close enough clear view to tell anything.

09-12-2007, 11:14 PM
Ok its hopefully taken care of. I met with him and walked His property line. I with my compass and he with his GPS.
I did spend 4 hours marking my property line with reflective flags before he got there.
Well anyway we are walking on our property line, his is the south and mine is the north, we are going west by my compass and sun set, his GPS says we are headed east. He had no clue which way we were going.
He addmitted the mistake and offered to pay for damages, I said welcome nieghbor and just shook his hand.

09-16-2007, 02:32 PM
I did some reading and found this: *Using a Garmin GPS with Paper Land Maps (http://www8.garmin.com/manuals/UsingaGarminGPSwithPaperLandMaps_Manual.pdf)

Basically if your neighbor's GPS is not setup correctly his coordinates are probably wrong. *You are a good neighbor by shaking hands after what he did. *MV out!