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Plot a Metes and Bounds Legal Land Description
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Plot a Metes and Bounds Legal Land Description



Project Name Ellipsoid
 
Line Latitude Longitude Point
Name
Begin
1

Thence
 
Line North/South
Cardinal
Degree Minute Second East
West
Length Unit Point
Name
Begin
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
 
Basis of Bearing


Many Metes and Bounds legal land descriptions are simple enough that this fill-in-the-form app will do the job.

What follows is a quick start for the impatient, then a sales pitch, followed by the essential background knowledge on metes and bounds legal land descriptions and finally the detailed operating instructions for this application.

There is a reference section at the end.


Quick Start

Enter your metes and bounds legal land description.

Check will run a syntax check on your data and draw the land parcel. The starting point should meet up with the ending point. This is called "Closure". The acreage should be very close to what is on the legal land description. Syntax errors will be highlighted. Hover over the highlighted fields to see the error message.

Calc does the same as above, but includes latitudes and longitudes for all points.

You can also download the point coordinates in CSV, KML, GPX and JSON formats. GPX can be loaded into your Garmin. KML is used by Google Earth.


Sales Pitch

'Check' is always free. Check will draw your plot of land without an account or a purchase.

Your first 3 Calc's are also free. 'Calc' does all the same as 'Check' and will also take your beginning latitude and longitude and calculate the latitude and longitude for all the points.

Each 'Calc' consumes 1 credit.

Typically 20 to 30 credits are required to complete a project.

If you wish to setup an account, click Becoming a Subscriber and follow the instructions.

If already have an account, click here.

Or, you can click "Login" on the top right hand corner of any webpage, sign in, and then click the "PLOT" button on the black menu bar.


Metes and Bounds Land Description

Overview:

  • A Metes and Bounds Land Description starts at a well defined beginning point and traces the perimeter of a property using carefully measured distances and angles until it finally returns to the point of beginning.
  • The end point must meet up with the start point. (Closure)

Example:

A tract of land in the Northwest quarter of the Northwest quarter of Section 30, Township 1 South, Range 66 West of the 6th Principal Meridian, County of Adams, State of Colorado described as follows:

Commencing at the Northwest corner of said Section 30;
Thence South 20°30' East, a distance of 140.60 feet to the Point of Beginning;
Thence North 88°55' East, a distance of 200.00 feet;
Thence South, a distance of 125.00 feet;
Thence South 88°55' West, a distance of 200.00 feet;
Thence North, a distance of 125.00 feet to the Point of Beginning;
Containing 0.57 acres, more or less.

Bearings are based on the north line of the Northwest quarter of Section 30 to bear North 89°42' East with all bearings contained herein relative thereto.

Elements:

  1. PREAMBLE

    • The preamble provides a general description of the land to be described including the county, state and other general information to orient the reader.
    • The preamble gets the reader to the proper general location.
  2. POINT OF COMMENCEMENT

    • This is the reference point.
    • A Point of Commencement is used to unambigously reference the parcel to a well-established point (ie: a government survey corner).
    • A Point of Commencement is used when the reference point is not on the perimeter of the parcel.
    • The Point of Commencement is either inside the land parcel or on another land parcel some distance away.
    • There might not be a Point of Commencement.
  3. POINT OF BEGINNING (POB)

    • The Point of the Beginning is "pen down", the first point where the drawing of the perimeter begins.
    • If there is no Point of Commencement, the Point of Beginning is also the reference point.
  4. BODY

    • The Body contains a sequence of Calls.
    • These Calls draw the perimeter around the land parcel and end up back to the Point of Beginning.
    • Calls recite Courses and Distances.
    • Calls can be a straight line, a curve, or a line parallel line to another line.
    • Calls can be references to adjoining boundaries, natural or artificial monuments, roads or rivers.
    • Courses are the direction of a line.
    • Courses are usually referenced to true north, but sometimes are referenced to magnetic north or a Basis of Bearing
    • Distance is the length in a well-known unit, such as feet, meters or chains.
  5. AREA

    • An Area Call sets forth the approximate acreage in the parcel.
    • The acreage in the Area Call should be very close to the calculated area as defined by the sequence of calls in the Body.
  6. BASIS OF BEARING

    • A Basis of Bearing is used instead of true north or magnetic north as the reference for the Courses.

Operating Instructions

Field

Description

 
Project Name A short description of the land parcel.
Ellipsoid The Earth is not completely round sphere, it is an ellisoid. The Earth bulges out at the equator, like when a child sits on a beach ball. There are slightly different sets of numbers used to describe the ellipsoid shape of the earth. Some are newer and more accurate. Some work better on a specific part of the earth, like the area around Mount Everest.

If unsure, leave this field blank.

ELLIPSOIDS                      Semi-major      Semi-minor
                                Equatorial        Polar         Inverse
                                 axis (m)        axis (m)       flattening
Name                                a               b              1/f
---------------------------- --------------- ---------------- ---------------
Airy                           6377563.396     6356256.91      299.3249753
Modified Airy                  6377340.189     6356034.446     299.3249646
Australian National            6378160         6356774.7192    298.25
Bessel 1841                    6377397.155     6356078.9629    299.1528128
Bessel 1841 (Namibia)          6377483.865     6356165.383     299.1528128
Clarke 1880                    6378249.145     6356514.8696    293.465
Clarke 1866 (NAD27)            6378206.4       6356583.8       294.9786982
Everest 1830                   6377276.34518   6356075.41511   300.8017
Everest 1948                   6377298.556     6356097.55      300.8017
Mod. Everest 1948              6377304.063     6356103.039     300.8017
Everest 1956                   6377301.243     6356100.228     300.8017
Everest (Pakistan)             6377309.613     6356108.571     300.8017
Mod. Fischer 1960              6378155         6356773.32      298.3
GRS80 (NAD83)                  6378137         6356752.31414   298.257222101
GRS-80 CHINA                   6378140         6356755.288     298.257
Helmert 1906                   6378200         6356818.17      298.3
Hough 1960                     6378270         6356684.34343   297
Indonesian 1974                6378160         6356774.504     298.247
International 1924             6378388         6356911.9462    297
Krassowsky 1940                6378245         6356863         298.3
SGS 85                         6378136         6356751.302     298.257
South American 1969            6378160         6356774.7192    298.25
WGS72                          6378135         6356750.52      298.26
WGS84                          6378137         6356752.314245  298.257223563
Airy 1830                      6377563.541     6356257.053     299.325
Clarke 1858                    6378361         6356685         294.26
Clarke 1880 French             6378249.2       6356515         293.46598
Clarke 1880 Mod.               6378249.145     6356514.966     293.466307656
Clarke 1880 Palistine          6378300.79      6356566.435     293.466307656
Clarke 1880                    6378249.145326  6356514.966721  293.4663076
Danish                         6377104.43      6355847.415     300
Delambre                       6376523.3       6355863.232     308.64
Everest 1969                   6377295.664     6356094.668     300.8017
Fischer 1960                   6378166         6356784.284     298.3
GRS 1967                       6378160         6356774.504     298.247
Hayford 1909                   6378388         6356909         297
Plessis                        6376523.3       6355863.232     308.64
Schott 1900                    6378157         6357210.672     304.5
Struve                         6378298.3       6356657.143     294.73
War Office 1924                6378300.58      6356752.267     296
WGS 60                         6378165         6356783.287     298.3
WGS 66                         6378145         6356759.769     298.25
---------------------------- --------------- ---------------- ---------------


Line Line Number.

Line Number is not part of a legal land description. It is used by this application to provide a reference to a specific line of the input form.

The Line Number is used to label points on the drawing that do not have a Point Name.

Latitude
Longitude
This is the critical starting point used to calculate all the other points. Care and attention are required.

Latitude and Longitude to 5 decimal places is about a meter.

The Latitude and Longitude are entered in decimal degrees, with Longitude being a negative number in the Western Hemisphere.

The MGRS app can be used to convert a Degree, Minutes, Seconds into Decimal Degrees.

Sectional

In the parts of the United States covered by the Public Land Survey System and the parts of Canadian provinces covered by the Dominion Land Survey, the starting Latitude and Longitude are often corners that can be obtained by using one of our sectional land description converters.
  1. Enter the Sectional Land Description and click calc.
  2. Download and save the CSV file.
  3. Right Click and Open the CSV file with a text editor like notepad.
  4. Use notepad instead of Excel, because Excel can round numbers and destroy the accuracy needed in this application.
  5. Find the corner in the CSV file that matches the corner in the legal land description.
  6. Copy and paste the latitude and longitude into the form above.

Government Databases

  1. Finding US Survey Marks and Datasheets
    National Geodetic Survey

Physically get the GPS of the Starting Position

  1. Devices with a built in GPS chip such as smart phones which can directly receive satellite GPS signals. The accuracy is typically claimed to be within 10 meters.
  2. Stand on the starting location (if legal).
  3. Use the https version of MGRS converter and click the "Get" button.

    In 5 to 10 seconds, the Latitude and Longitude fields will be filled in by the GPS technology in your phone.

  4. Write down the Latitude and Longitude. The phone may clear the data during a power cycle.
  5. Check that the MGRS converter can get a GPS location before you leave home.

    If "get location" or "allow this webpage to access your location" are turned off in your smart phone's web browser, it can be difficult to turn back on.

  6. You can use other devices and other apps to get the GPS location.
Point Name Name of this point.

The Point Name is used by the legal text to name a point that will be referenced later on in the same document.

The Point Name is used to label the point on the drawing.

Begin Point of Beginning.

"Pen Down". Drawing of the Perimeter begins.

Courses

Courses are the directions to move. This application accepts courses in in 2 formats.

Cardinal North, South, East and West, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast.

Cardinal Directions are simply stated as words.

Degree, Minutes and Seconds are left blank.

North/South
Degree
Minute
Second
East/West
The Compass is divided into 4 quadrants.

Directions start at either North or South and proceed at an angle towards East or West.

At least one of the degree, minute or second fields must be filled in.

Distance

Length Length is a positive number with up to 8 decimal places.
Unit These well know units of length are accepted.
Unit              Meters
-------------  ---------------
Chain            20.1168    
Link              0.201168  
Rod               5.0292    
Foot              0.3048    
Meter             1         
Yard              0.9144    
Inch              0.0254    
Furlong         201.168     
Perch             5.0292    
Pole              5.0292    
Mile           1609.344     
Kilometer      1000         
League         5556         
US Foot           0.30480061
-------------  ---------------

US Survey Foot

Since 1893, the legal definition of the foot in the United States has been based on the meter.

The definition adopted by Congress in 1866 was 1 US Foot = 1200/3937 meter exactly.

In 1959, the relationship of the foot to the meter was officially changed to what it is today: 1 Foot = 0.3048 meter exactly.

U.S. Survey Foot (NIST)

Although the difference is small, across the distance of an entire state, it becomes significant.

If unsure, use "Foot" rather than "US Foot".

Basis of Bearing

North/South
Degree
Minute
Second
East/West
A Basis of Bearing is used instead of true north or magnetic north as the reference for the Courses.

It follows the same rules as Direction (See Above).

If there is no Basis of Bearing, leave these fields blank.

Sectional Land Descriptions

Sectional Land Descriptions are subdivided by a grid system.

These are found by using these fill-in-the-form programs

    Link Area Grid Name Example
    PLSS USA Public Land Survey System S2 T35N R21W Chisago County, Minnesota
Section 2, Township 35 North, Range 21 West, Fourth Principal Extended
DLS Canada Dominion Land Survey SW 24-12-20-W4
Southwest Quarter of Section 24, Township 12, Range 20, West of the 4th Meridian.
NTS Canada National Topographic System C-26-F/93-K-11
Series 93, Area K, Sheet 11, Block F, Unit 26, Quarter C
FPS Canada Federal Permit System Yellowknife 38 62-30 N 114-15 W
Hay River F 72 61-00 N 115-30 W
UTM Global Universal Transverse Mercator 12N 384323 5540791
MGRS Global Military Grid Reference System 12U UA 84323 40791
12U UA 84 40

Legal Land Description References

Surveying References

 
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