How do I know where the boundaries of my property are? Most of us do not think about this question. We usually identify our property by its street address, and we generally assume that our boundaries are at the obvious places, such as where there are fences, walls and other obvious lines of demarcation.
In fact, the exact boundaries of our property are usually established by the legal description of the property contained in the recorded Grant Deed. The legal description of property is the detailed description from which a competent surveyor can ascertain the precise boundaries of the property. In earlier times, legal descriptions usually contained what were then called “metes and bounds” which were detailed physical descriptions of the borders, with reference to local landmarks such as rivers, large trees, the ocean and so forth. In modern times, most legal descriptions will refer to subdivision plat maps, which were recorded with the County Recorder’s Office at the time that the land was first developed.
A legal description is enough of a description of the property that a competent surveyor could use that description to identify the precise boundaries of the property. In earlier times, legal descriptions were filled with very specific physical descriptions of the land, referencing local landmarks such as rivers, hills and so forth. In more recent times, legal descriptions generally refer to subdivision plat maps, which are created when a piece of land is subdivided and developed.
To go from a legal description of the property, to an actual knowledge of where the boundaries are, you need a surveyor. When a surveyor does a survey of the land, he or she will generally put marks down – such as circles of metal – which show you the boundary line.