How to Read a Plat Map

If you’re considering purchasing land, then you have likely already encountered a plat map. It provides an overhead view of a parcel of land, and details its physical characteristics and other important information including its:

Fortunately, plat maps aren’t esoteric records that are exclusively intended to be interpreted by land surveyors. Anyone can read a plat map once they understand what its various numbers represent!

  • Lot number – This number (occasionally a letter) appears within the plat’s boundaries. It is not underlined. It serves as an identifier: a quick and unambiguous way to refer to the plat in question that is usually included in legal descriptions.
  • Parcel number – This number appears within the plat’s boundaries as well. It is underlined. It too serves as an identifier, though it is typically only referred to for taxation purposes.
  • House number – This number appears just outside the plat’s boundaries. It is part of the home’s address (e.g. 742 Evergreen Terrace).
  • Measurements – If a plat has four sides, then four numbers will necessarily appear parallel to the property lines. These are the measurements, which can be used to calculate the area of the plat.
  • Easements – An easement is a “right-of-way granted to a person or company authorizing access to the owner’s land; for example, a utility company may be granted an easement to install pipes or wires.” On a plat map, access easements are labeled alongside the roads they pertain to. Drainage, sewer and utility easements appear on the plat map, albeit not within the boundaries of the plat they pertain to.

Where Do You Get a Plat Map?

Plat maps are detailed in plat books, which are typically available online, at libraries, and from county offices. If you are purchasing land, then the seller’s agent should provide its plat map on request. Plat maps are usually included in the closing paperwork when you purchase a home.

When Should You Get a Plat Map?

You should always acquire a plat map when you are purchasing land or real estate. It is necessary if you intend to divide your own piece of land into lots for building purposes, or if you are converting land you own or manage into a public-access location.

Are Plot Maps and Plat Maps the Same Thing?

They are not. A plot map illustrates an individual piece of land, whereas a plat map illustrates multiple plots and how they are divided within an area of land. Both are helpful if you are considering purchasing or subdividing land, although they are not interchangeable.

Are you planning a new development, and need a plat map that subdivides your property into smaller parcels? Then we encourage you to contact Compass Consultants today for expert plat surveying in Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota!