Historical Land Survey Records

Waterfront Property Corner

Andy Holman, PLS, preparing to set a waterfront property corner.


In Washington State, we have the benefit of the Survey Recording Act which was established in 1973 by House Bill No. 284 and, per RCW 58.09, “provides a method for preserving evidence of land surveys by establishing standards and procedure for monumenting and for recording a public record of the surveys”.  The Survey Recording Act was created for a variety of reasons including protection of the public.  Protection of the public is paramount and one of the fundamental canons of Professional Land Surveyors.  Washington has required the recording of certain documents with the County Auditor’s office for over 40 years, making those records readily available to you and me.

If the subject property has been surveyed (e.g. boundary survey, short or long plat, boundary adjustment/modification, etc.), the survey was very likely recorded based on the Survey Recording Act.  Given the knowledge of where to look and a bit of time, those records can be found and used for your benefit.  The County Auditor’s Office has a vast catalog of records and they are a great starting point for property research.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Public Land Survey Office (PLSO) is another great source, offering access to historical records throughout San Juan County and the entire state of Washington.  However, access to this rich bank of information requires a paid subscription.  Thorough research is critical in my profession, which is why Holman Land Surveying subscribes to the DNR PLSO database.  We use the San Juan County Auditor’s Office records search and the DNR PLSO search daily.

In short: Recorded survey data is public knowledge.

A simple conversation with prospective clients regarding their project goals is sufficient for us to determine the scope of work required to meet their specific needs and offer a competitive cost estimate, often presenting options they did not know existed.

My advice?  If you have been considering a surveying firm and need a little guidance to know what is possible, contact Holman Land Surveying to discuss your options.  We offer a broad spectrum of Land Surveying, Permitting and Planning services we can tailor to your needs.

Check out our website at www.holmansurveying.com for more information, request a quote online, or call to speak with us directly at 360-378-0338.

-Andy Holman, PLS

Posted in Land Surveying.