It is important to know the accurate boundaries of your property if you are considering putting up a fence, or if you are involved in a dispute with your neighbors. Without a clear marker like an existing fence, this can prove a difficult task, and any conclusion you reach may cause trouble with your immediate neighbors. Knowing the correct procedures for determining your house boundaries can get you out of many tough spots, and it isn’t that complicated a procedure.
Things You'll Need
- Four wooden stakes
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Find your property deed. Deeds often have clear descriptions of the property boundaries on them. They often include angles and distances between corners of the boundaries. Using a compass, these can be easily read and used to locate your boundaries. Some deeds have more vague information, referring to old landmarks such as trees, which may no longer exist.
Contact your county or city clerk and ask about getting an ordinance survey map for your area. Generally, this information will be available, but you may be charged for it. This information is very detailed, and either it or a deed is required if you want to have a good legal argument. Essentially, this is regulated, reliable information on your house’s boundaries.
Walk to a corner of your boundaries that you feel certain about. If you have a deed or survey map, follow it to locate a corner. If you don’t, go to where you assume that there is a corner. People generally have a sense of their house boundaries through general familiarity, and there may be a tell-tale sign, such as an old fence post, or pipe in the ground. Corners have been marked in many ways over time, so look for things like marked rocks or trees, stakes in the ground and piles of rocks (often with one notably larger rock). Mark the spot with a stake if it isn’t marked already.
Stand at your first corner and look across to an adjacent corner. Again, follow a map or deed instructions if you have them, but think logically if not. Walk over to the next corner, and release string behind you to mark your assumed boundary. Stop when you reach where you believe the corner is.
Look for a marker of this corner. This is likely to be something similar to the first one you found, but search for anything noticeable and out of the ordinary. If there is nothing at the point where you are standing, drop your string for a moment and work outward in a spiral, looking for markers as you go. If you are on the right general path, you should find a marker working outward in this way.
Repeat this process for the remaining corners. When you have an idea of the boundaries for your home, ask your immediate neighbors if they agree. If they do, then you are free to assert your ownership over your land. You can make a lot line agreement with your neighbors to establish the boundaries legally. Contact your state’s zoning department for the specific regulations, but it generally requires a description of the boundaries, which is signed by all concerned parties.
Contact a professional surveyor if none of the above works. A professional surveyor will do all of the necessary work for you and mark your property boundaries, in exchange for a fee. This is the most reliable method, but if you have a good relationship with your neighbors, it is possible to accomplish the same for free.