Decoding the Language of Land: Understanding Metes and Bounds for Property Owners
Understanding Metes and Bounds: A Comprehensive Guide for Property Owners
As a property owner, it is essential to have a clear understanding of your land’s dimensions and boundaries. One of the oldest systems used to describe these details is the metes and bounds system. This system, with its unique language and terms, can often seem confusing and complex. However, a deeper understanding of metes and bounds can provide valuable insights into your property’s history and its precise geographical limits.
The metes and bounds system originated in England and was later adopted in the United States, particularly in the original thirteen colonies. It is a method of describing land using physical features of the local geography, along with directions and distances. The term ‘metes’ refers to measurements, usually in feet, yards, or rods, while ‘bounds’ refer to physical boundaries, such as rivers, roads, or adjacent properties.
To decode the language of metes and bounds, it is essential to familiarize oneself with the terms used. A ‘point of beginning’ (POB) is a crucial term in this system. It refers to the starting point of the property description, from which all measurements and descriptions are made. The POB is typically a recognizable, permanent feature like a tree, a rock, or a corner of an existing property.
The metes and bounds descriptions often use compass directions, which are denoted as degrees, minutes, and seconds. The compass direction is usually followed by a distance measurement. For instance, a description might read, “North 45 degrees East, 200 feet.” This means that from the POB, one would travel in a direction 45 degrees east of due north for a distance of 200 feet.
It’s important to note that the metes and bounds system relies heavily on natural and man-made landmarks. These landmarks can include rivers, roads, trees, and stone walls. However, this reliance on physical features can also lead to complications. Over time, these features may change or disappear, making the boundaries difficult to identify accurately.
The metes and bounds system also uses ‘calls’ to describe the property’s boundaries. A call can refer to a variety of things, including a specific distance and direction, a reference to a physical feature, or a mention of an adjacent property. For example, a call might read, “thence North to the oak tree,” which indicates a boundary line extending northward to an oak tree.
Despite its complexities, the metes and bounds system provides a rich historical context. It offers insights into the local geography and landmarks at the time the description was written. This can be particularly fascinating for property owners interested in the history of their land.
In conclusion, understanding the metes and bounds system can be a rewarding endeavor for property owners. It not only helps to accurately identify property boundaries but also provides a historical snapshot of the land. By decoding the language of metes and bounds, property owners can gain a deeper appreciation of their property’s unique characteristics and its place in the broader landscape.