Historically, a lot was not a unit of area measurement but actually a unit of weight. This is rather surprising since the word “lot” is constantly employed in parceling out the land.
When a developer or builder decides to construct something, they will choose the lot size based on how big the buildings will be and the cost of the project.
A standard measure of 43,560 square feet makes an acre. However, a lot is not a standard and universally agreed-upon measurement, so the answer to the question, “How many lots are in an acre?” is, “It depends.”
Without an agreed-upon definition of a “lot,” no one can calculate the number of lots in an acre.
Table of Contents
- Why should we care about acres and lots?
- The acre: a measurement of land
- How to: converting square feet to acres and acres back to square feet
- So, what is a lot in land measurement?
- Interesting real estate facts you might not know
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why should we care about acres and lots?
All outdoor activities, including hunting, landscaping, and buying and selling property are all affected by the availability of acreage.
Lots are important when it comes to land, and the price paid for the land will depend on the size of the parcel.
Knowing a bit about the history and background of acres helps buyers and sellers accurately discuss the size of land involved in the bargaining.
The acre: a measurement of land
Those who have dealt with any type of property are likely to be familiar with the term “acre.” The standardized units of measurement used to describe real estate sizes are square feet and acres.
But what is an acre, what are the word’s origins, how it was created, and why is it the size it is?
Few people know the answers to these questions, and it’s not hard to see why. Most folks just accept that an acre is the unit of measurement used to measure land and then move on to the next item in their busy schedule.
Where does the word “acre” come from?
The Old English term “acre” means “open field” and was used to refer to unoccupied land. It was originally spelled “aker” in English and was related to “ager,” a Latin word meaning “field”.
Later, an “acre” came to mean an area of land that a man could plow up in a single day using one wooden plow and a team of oxen.
Although this method might strike modern people as unscientific and unreliable, the method leads to an accurate system of measuring land.
After plowing 1/8 mile (660 feet), it was normal to give the oxen a break. This practice was known as a furrowlong or furlong, and furlongs measured the exact distance of 660 feet.
How large is an acre?
A farmer could plow a furlong’s length with a plowshare measuring 10 inches in width, covering an area of approximately 66 feet of farmland.
Multiplying 660 feet in a furlong by the 66 feet covered by the average farmer gives 43,560 square feet, which is what today we call an “acre.”
However, this technique had several variables. It is unlikely that an actual farmer would plow exactly 43,560 acres every time they step on the field. Other factors need to be considered.
What age was the farmer? Were the oxen in good health and well-fed?
Were the fields level and rich in soil, or were they hilly and rocky?
These variations lead to differences in the size of land different farmers could till. This, in turn, caused variations in the size and shape of an acre.
Edward I (aka Edward Longshanks) established a legal size of an acre. Additionally, monarchs Edward III, Edward VIII, and George IV contributed essential elements that created the exact value of the acre we use today.
Why do we still use acres to measure out areas of land?
Many units can be used to measure land surfaces. So why was the acre chosen?
There are actually many reasons.
The acre was the unit of measurement England used when the United States was founded. People have used it over the years, and since most people despise and reject change, it stuck.
The acre is also a good size for all properties. While there are occasions when large land areas can be used, it is not practical to use small parcels of land.
One square mile equals 640 acres. It is easier to imagine half an acre than one-third of a mile.
While square footage is commonly used for residential lots or commercial properties, it’s not practical for use with larger sizes of real estate.
If not, huge numbers like thousands and even millions of square feet would be involved in describing larger-sized properties.
For both large and small properties, the acre works.
Does the type of surface matter when measuring land?
Does the surface area of land play a part in its measurement? How about hills and mountains or level ground?
It turns out, the surface area doesn’t matter when calculating the acreage of a piece of land. Geometry (which literally means “earth measurement”) is used by surveyors to calculate acreage.
Because surveyors treat all land as flat, it doesn’t matter what the actual topography of the land is. It will always measure the same as a similarly sized piece of land that is perfectly flat.
How to: converting square feet to acres and acres back to square feet
Square footage is used for many properties, including land with commercial properties and houses. It’s important to learn how to translate acres to square feet and back again.
This is done by using proportions, simple multiplication, and division.
However, rather than go into the intricacies of converting from one unit of measurement to the other, there is a website that helps visitors do the calculations easily:
The Calculator Site offers a simple calculator that converts square feet to acres or square feet to square feet.
So, what is a lot in land measurement?
A lot, or plot in real estate, is a parcel or tract of land that belongs to someone. In some countries, a plot can be considered real property.
In other countries, it could also be immovable property. One or more people or legal entities can be the possible owners of a plot, including a corporation, trust, organization, government, or company.
In some countries, a simple fee is the most common form of ownership for a plot.
A plot can also be defined as an area of land that is not surrounded by a road or other improvement. It is usually used for the same purpose and is often in the same condition.
A car park or a plot of cultivated gardens would be an example of this. This article focuses on plots, also known as lots in some countries.
Lots are defined parcels of land that an owner (or group) can own as units.
The boundaries of a lot (or lots) are defined. These boundaries can be found anywhere. However, boundaries do not need to be drawn on the land.
Many lots can be mapped even though they are not flat because of their small size. The area of a lot is a sign of its size, and the area is usually determined as if the land is flat and level.
However, the terrain may vary from flat to hilly. It is possible for the contour area of the land to change, and it may prove difficult to determine a lot’s size.
How boundaries, sizes, and shapes of lots are determined and recorded
There are many sizes and shapes to lots. A single lot must have a contiguous area to be considered. Not one, but two separate parcels will be considered two lots.
A lot can be sized to accommodate one house or another building. Although lots are often rectangular, other shapes are possible provided the boundaries are clearly defined.
There are several methods to determine or document the boundaries of lots, including metes (historically, metes were actual boundary stones) and bounds and quadrant methods and using a plat diagram.
The metes and bounds method can be used to draw a polygon. Metes are points that look like the corners (vertices) of a polygon. Bounds are line segments that connect two adjacent metes.
Bounds are generally straight lines but can also be curved if they are clearly defined.
If the lot boundaries are not marked on the lot, it is possible to survey the lot to establish the boundaries according to the plat diagrams or lot descriptions.
Qualified surveyors can create a map or diagram of the lot that shows the boundaries, dimensions, locations of buildings, etc.
These surveys can also be used to find out if there are any encroachments on the lot. Sometimes, surveyors will place posts on the lots’ metes.
What is frontage and why is it critical to consider frontage when inspecting a lot?
Frontage is the area of the lot border that lies next to a street or road. Developers aim to provide at least one frontage per lot so that owners have easy access to their lots.
The street frontage is what determines which side of a lot is front and which side is back.
The lot area can be determined from the deed. If this is the case, the frontage line can then be measured as depth. This is done by taking the width and dividing it by the area = depth.
Access to the back of lots can also be provided by minor driveways known as alleys. These are usually publicly owned. Garages can be found at the back of lots with access from alleys when alleys exist.
If there are alleys, garbage collection can be done from the alley. Corner lots are located at the corners of blocks and have two sides of frontage.
Corner lots have the advantage of allowing for garage access from the street, but also have the disadvantage of requiring more lawn maintenance and snow removal.
Sometimes, homes are built in the middle of large blocks. This situation will often result in a long driveway that provides transport access.
These lots are known as flag lots because of the way they look like a flag on a flagpole (the driveway).
Interesting real estate facts you might not know
The highest-priced listing in America that actually went for a song
A Beverly Hills 157-acre parcel of land was the most expensive in the United States. It was listed at $1 billion. However, it sold for just a fraction of that ($100,000.)
The original lender agreed to purchase the debt when it had already reached $200,000. It is still the most remarkable example of setting unrealistic expectations for the value of plots of land in US history.
Into the red
It is common in Scotland to paint the door red when the homeowner’s mortgage has been paid off. Every local homeowner knows this custom.
So, next time you visit Edinburgh, be on the lookout for those who have reached this milestone.
Interestingly, in many parts of the world, plots of land always remain the property of the country, so even though the mortgage on the building has been paid off, the “owner” is in effect leasing his own property from the government, usually for a period of 99 years.
The town they built on top of a meteor
A Bavarian town called Nordlingen was built on a 15-million-year-old meteor. The town was struck by an asteroid over 1,000 years ago.
However, the residents weren’t cowed into moving away. Instead, they simply built a new town on the crater, laying out plots of land in circular bands reaching out from the center.
An aerial view shows the town’s circular layout to this day.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the origin of the word “lot”?
Old English “hlot” means “item used for determining someone’s share;” it can be everything from straw to dice to a chunk of wood with a name carved into it.
This source is Old English “hleotan,” to cast lots, foretell, get by lot, or forecast.
So, what is a lot in land measurement?
A lot or plot in real estate is a parcel or tract of land that belongs to someone. In some countries, a plot can be considered real property. In other countries, it could also be immovable property.
The beauty of an acre is that it can be virtually any shape, as long as its total area is 43,560 sq. feet. Most people will deal with real estate at some point in their lives.
Therefore, understanding acres and lots is knowledge that is unlikely to go to waste.