There are few more important things to homeowners or businesses than their real property, yet many do not know their boundary line. There may be a situation where an old fence, road, structure or even natural feature seems like an obvious boundary. However, the obvious is not always accurate. Misunderstandings can lead to neighbors arguing over a property line or other issues or obligations related to the perimeter, such as maintaining an area of land in dispute.
Situations where a survey is needed
There are many reasons to do it:
- Purchase: Banks or mortgage companies often require property surveys before they authorize funding.
- Erecting a building: New construction should not begin without a survey. This can avoid violating specific regulations, such as placing a garage or an outbuilding too close to the property line, or worse, partially or wholly on a neighbor’s property. There also may be an issue with a municipality or homeowner’s association owns rights to the property even though the adjacent property owner must maintain the land.
- Boundary disputes: It ensures that a boundary line fence reflects the boundary or not – a property owner may want complete control over the fence and intentionally erect it inches or feet inside the perimeter.
- Subdivisions: The owner may want to cut a property in equal parts, but surveys are still required to ensure it meets local codes.
- Landmarks move: Older pieces of land may indicate a river or creek property line, but flooding, erosion, and the natural course of things may move those markers over time. This can create gaps, gores or overlaps.
- Easements: These may have been created decades ago among friendly neighbors, but current owners may dispute the right of others to access their land.
- Joint features: Both property owners may share a driveway, a party wall or a tree.
- Utilities: Surveyors note above-ground poles and lines but also can record underground cables and drains.
Hiring a surveyor
Property owners can hire a professional land surveyor to determine the boundaries and document the location and dimensions of structures on the property. These professionals are trained and licensed to make determinations. They can also read existing land surveys of a property, perhaps untangling the issue in dispute.