If you are purchasing a parcel of land or have concerns about the legal boundaries of a parcel you already own, a survey performed by a licensed surveyor provides far more security regarding the accuracy of the boundaries of the land than a plat drawing or map.
A land survey is performed by a trained surveyor licensed by the State. The State of Maryland Board of Professional Land Surveyors provides recourse if the survey and/or service provided does not meet industry standards. The surveyor will lay out the exact metes and bounds dimensions set out in your property deed and will research prior deeds in the chain of title to ensure that those metes and bounds are consistent. The surveyor will provide a description of the parcel, typically in the form of a map. If there are any questions or issues about the property dimensions (for example the metes and bounds set out do not form a closed boundary), the surveyor will alert you. Further, the surveyor will mark your property boundaries (monumentation) to ensure it is clear to adjacent and future landowners where the property boundaries lie.
Plat drawings or maps, often provided to you at a closing or available at your county office of planning, are typically created by a civil engineer when a subdivision is first created. They are submitted to the county planning department to allow subdivision approval. While these drawings or maps are supposed to align with deeds drafted for each plat within a subdivision, there is not an oversight process that ensures equivalence and accuracy. Further, plat drawings or maps do not have the detail and precision of a boundary survey. Thus, relying on a plat drawing to determine exact parcel boundaries involves far greater risk than relying on a professional survey. Further, plat drawings and maps are typically insufficient to establish property boundaries in court/legal disputes.
So, if you are contemplating purchasing property in Maryland, want to build or place structures on property you own, want to know if your neighbor's structures encroach on yours, or just want to be confident about your property's boundaries, obtaining a land survey performed by a licensed surveyor provides the greatest assurance and should be the basis for purchasing, building, and/or placement decisions. If you rely on anything less professional, you could wind up encroaching or trespassing on another's land (and be open to liability) and/or open yourself to claims of adverse possession if someone else occupies land you do not recognize as owned by you.
We'd love to talk with you about how we can help with your property acquisition or property boundaries. Reach out today.