How A Licensed Surveyor Locates Your Property Lines for Building a Fence

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If you’re planning on building a fence around your property, it’s important to know where your property lines are to avoid any disputes with neighbors or future homeowners. In this article, we’ll discuss the process of property surveys and how a licensed surveyor can accurately locate your property lines. By understanding the necessary steps and utilizing the right tools, you can ensure that your fence is built within the boundaries of your property.

Why Do You Need a Survey?

Before delving into the process, it’s crucial to understand why you need to get a survey done for your property. Even if you have a general idea of where your property lines are, it’s essential to be as close to the actual boundary as possible. Building a fence that encroaches on your neighbor’s property can lead to disputes and legal issues in the future. Additionally, if the fence is located too far off the property line, people may assume it’s on the boundary, potentially resulting in ownership conflicts down the line.

Preparation and Research

When a licensed surveyor is hired for a job, they typically start with the address of the property. They then use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) applications available in most counties to search for parcel maps and other relevant information. These applications may also provide access to the actual plat (a map showing the division of land) for the neighborhood. Based on this initial research, the surveyor can gain a general idea of where the property boundaries should be.

Understanding Surveys and Pin Locators

There are different types of surveys, including a Certificate of Survey, which provides a legal description and boundary representation. However, when it comes to building a fence, a pin locator is commonly used. A pin locator involves physically marking the corners of the property using irons or stakes. While this type of survey does not involve drawings or certificates, it is crucial for marking out the fence line accurately.

Tools Used in Property Surveys

The tools used in property surveys are relatively simple. A surveyor typically uses a shovel and a metal detector to locate existing monuments or markers that indicate the property corners. Homeowners may attempt to find these corners themselves, but in older areas, the monuments may not always be present or easily visible. In this case, the surveyor will probe the ground and rely on their expertise to determine the approximate location of the property corners.

Placing Property Monuments

If the existing property markers are not found, a licensed surveyor can set new irons or stakes to serve as the property corners. Once these markers are placed, they become the official boundary points of the property. Only a licensed land surveyor has the authority to set these markers and establish property corners. It’s essential to respect and not disturb these survey markers, as it is against the law to do so.

Different Types of Easements

Easements are another crucial aspect of property surveys. Common types of easements include utility easements, private easements, easements by necessity, and prescriptive easements. Utility easements are often present in residential lots to allow for the placement of utility lines and cables by the city. It is important to understand the restrictions and limitations imposed by these easements, as they can affect where you can build your fence.

The Role of Total Stations

Total stations are advanced surveying instruments used to accurately measure distances and angles. They are like expensive tape measures with built-in compasses and protractors. Using total stations, surveyors can compute the precise coordinates of property corners based on the known coordinates of other markers in the vicinity. This ensures that the fence is aligned correctly with the property boundaries.


Obtaining a property survey is crucial when building a fence to ensure that it is constructed within the boundaries of your property. By hiring a licensed surveyor and utilizing the right tools, you can accurately locate the property lines and avoid any disputes with neighbors or future homeowners. Remember to respect and not disturb the survey markers, as they play a significant role in defining your property boundaries. For more information on fencing, you can visit Midwest Fence’s website at Building a fence in compliance with property lines will not only give you peace of mind but also make for good neighborly relations.

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