Also known as a partition survey, a subdivision survey is used to divide a parcel of land into smaller tracts, lots, or estates, often for the purpose of selling off the parcels individually. The purpose of subdividing or platting a parcel of land is to create two or more legal parcels from a previously existing approved parcel. This is can be accomplished by various procedures such as short platting (<9 parcels), formal platting (4+ resulting parcels), or large lot segregations (>5 acres).

Subdivision surveys must be recorded by the local and state government agency. Each municipality in which a parent parcel is located has developed its own set of ordinances that establish requirements and regulate the subdivision procedures. These lots of land are frequently built upon before being sold, which is why many homes within a subdivision have a similar look. ALS has the knowledge and expertise with your engineering team to create a subdivision plat that suits individual needs while complying with local regulations.


Employing a land surveyor to draft up a subdivision survey provides maximum opportunities for those looking to develop a larger area of land with multiple parcels.

Land Development: The creation of a subdivision plat is done by a land surveyor who has been hired by the developer who intends to divide the land once the plat is approved. This developer may be the original owner or an individual/organization that has purchased the land for the purpose of subdividing it. This type of land survey is especially common in housing development projects.

Urban Planning: While most subdivision plats are drawn for the purpose of subdividing and selling off plots of land, they can be drawn for a number of other reasons, as well. For instance, the creation of a plat map is usually a major step in incorporating a new town or city. Subdivisions that have been platted correctly ensure compliance with zoning regulations, which often restrict lot sizes or lot geometry.


The first step is for a registered licensed surveyor to perform a boundary survey. Once the design is completed the land surveyor will perform lot surveys to ensure that the actual layout is consistent with the design. The surveyor will combine the research of existing documents with a physical survey of the land in order to create a subdivision plat. The completed plat shows the divisions of the larger piece of land, as well as the distance and bearings between each corner of the land. In modern subdivisions, these maps may also include new roads that exist or are to be built between the sections of land. Plat maps must demonstrate that all properties have access to a public right of way.

Subdivision platting also frequently involves setting aside part of the property for easements, parks, and areas needed for flood protection and other public uses. On completion of all requirements, survey monuments are established at the new parcel corners and a final subdivision map prepared and recorded by the surveyor at the appropriate county auditor’s office. In order for the plat to become legally valid in most jurisdictions, a local governing body such as an urban planning commission or zoning board must review and approve the plat map.



A short plat is the process of dividing land into nine or fewer lots or tax parcels. This process is generally achieved for development opportunities either by selling the additional lots or reinvesting into the new parcels. Factors governing a short plat include the zoning of the property, the presence and proximity of environmentally critical areas (ECAs), existing and future vehicle access and road standards, and drainage and utility requirements to ensure adequate service. The short subdivision process is less complicated than the more formal subdivision process.


These divide a development proposal on a parent lot into separate units that allow for different ownership. In many ways, a lot split is the reverse of a lot consolidation plat. Once the survey is complete, the lot split is detailed in a plat that shows the current parcel of land with the new lots superimposed. If approved, each lot will have its own land record. Landowners would find a unit lot subdivision beneficial if their property is inherited and needs to be divided among several beneficiaries, if they’re planning on selling the land and it would be more profitable to sell multiple smaller lots as opposed to one larger one, or, most commonly, if they’re planning a new structure that requires its own lot.


A boundary line adjustment involves the process of making changes to existing property lines between two adjacent tax parcels. The boundary line adjustment does not create any additional lot or parcel and must meet minimum zoning requirements for each adjusted lot. This type of survey also confirms that the adjusted lots are consistent with city codes and can include services to correct property line or setback encroachments, to improve lot design or access.


Binding Site Plans involve a process used to create parcels for sale or lease as an alternative to long plat procedures. They’re required to create parcels for industrial or commercial use, lease spaces for mobile home/RV parks when no other residential structures are permitted and/or create parcels for condominium ownership. For most commercial projects, a binding site plan is the best way to segregate or split up parcels into defined areas associated with the proposed development. Similar to short plats, the end result is separate parcels that can be developed and sold individually. However, these differentiate themselves by providing a more defined development pattern and establishing the future development footprint on the lots, which eases future permitting as well as establishes a cohesive development that can be built in phases over time. This process is best performed alongside site development permitting processes, after which point it is then recorded.


These involve the process of combining two or more lots into a single lot. Each lot has a unique tax identification number used by local governments to track land ownership. When two or more lots become one, they become a single taxable parcel, which is why cities often require a lot consolidation plat when developers start a construction project. When proposed buildings cross parcel lines, getting a lot consolidation plat makes identifying and tracking parcels simpler. These are particularly useful if a landowner lives next to a vacant lot that they want to purchase. Likewise, if a property owner acquires multiple lots of land and wants to develop these lots into a larger facility (ie. resorts, campgrounds, etc.), landowners would need a lot consolidation plat in order to do so. Finally, if the property owner wants to sell multiple adjacent lots to a commercial developer, a lot consolidation would be part of the rezoning process.