Perform Your Own Home Property Survey

Perform your own home property survey: finding property markers saves you time, expense and trouble, including how to read a property description, preparing for the search, and surveying fieldwork.

| September/October 1986

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    Your right to build or farm, your right to live on land the way you see fit, even your family dog's right to roam at will — all stop at that line.
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    Diagram Figure 1.
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    Diagram Figure 2.
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    Diagram Figure 3.
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    Diagram Figure 4.
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    Diagram Figure 5.
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    Diagram Figure 6.
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    Converting an azimuth to a bearing.
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MOTHER's HANDBOOK: Finding property markers saves your time, expense and trouble when you perform your own home property survey. 

Perform Your Own Home Property Survey

Because I live in the country and have done some surveying, I am often being asked about property boundaries. The questions are varied: "How much does a surveyor cost?" "Can I do it myself?" "What equipment do I need?" "What do my property corners look like?" "What are the laws concerning surveying and property boundaries?" "Where are my property records?" People ask these questions, not from a desire to fence and post their land, but because of pride of ownership, the desire for knowledge, or — sometimes — to protect themselves from the threat of encroachment.

Take my friend up the road. For years, he had lived peacefully on his 20-acre farm. Then a smooth operator bought the property next door, and subdivision plans began looming on his boundaries. My friend ended up paying a surveyor $1,500 — just to ensure that the new neighbor's ambitions wouldn't include any of his farm.

A thin line separates the smooth operators of this world from those of you who prefer to live and let live — the boundary line of your property. Your right to build or farm, your right to live on land the way you see fit, even your family dog's right to roam at will — all stop at that line. This article will tell you everything you need to know to find it, on the ground . If the thought of doing your own home property survey scares you, don't worry. You don't have to be a genius to find your property boundaries — just a detective.



Knowing how to find your own property markers can save you time, expense, and trouble. But be aware that there's a big difference between finding established lines and setting new ones (or adjusting incorrect old ones). Only a licensed surveyor is legally qualified to set or move lines.

How to Read a Property Description

You've heard it said that the job isn't over till the paperwork is done? In this job, the paperwork comes first. Don't set foot outside until you have in hand every document that could help. First on the list is the portion of your property deed called the legal description : the description in words of your property lines. And before you can understand how to decode that description, you must learn which of the two common surveying methods applies to your property. One is the metes and bounds method; the other is the public land survey system.

pwall620
5/20/2019 2:25:08 PM

I assume people complaining about prices, have never worked in the profession. If none of your boundaries have monuments at there location, it can take 4-8 hours in the field to determine the locations. There's also research time which can take 1-2 hours, paper work and filing w/ the Register of Deeds also takes 2-3 hours. So in one job if every monument is missing could take 8-15 hours to complete. If all your monuments are at the boundary locations, then the job should be about an hour. It's like taking your car to a mechanic and saying "my car's broken fix it".


BBLB1983
2/7/2019 7:18:26 PM

We just purchased an acre (completely level/flat ground) in central Oregon. There is snow right now, but have checked with 2 different surveying companies to get an idea of cost to find our boundary markers. 1 in the same county and the other in another county further away. Both gave an estimate of $1200 to locate and flag the corners. I wouldn't mind $500 or so, but I think that is a bit pricey! No development has been on our street, so maybe we'll be lucky and locate the original rebar with a metal detector. We're looking to put up a fence, but no structures right away. I suppose the property owners next to us would do a survey if they don't agree with the fence line and if we need to move the fence, we move it. BBLB1983


James Crow- FUTURE RPLS
8/17/2018 8:26:22 AM

Oh boy, glad I read into this a bit. The title alone had my dander on end. But I am good now. IT is a good read, but the title is so misleading. People never ever try to "Survey" your own land, for one reason law suits. Your person at home DIY survey will not hold up and will just create strife between you and your neighbor. Luckily this article is purely about locating your established lines. A few words of caution, understand how bearing bases work and how they are determined before running out with your compass and tape measure. Secondly, when using a tape measure over long distances know the formulas for calculating sag and slope distance over the horizontal distance. This alone could cause you to either overshoot your corner or come up very short of your corner. Although as the author wrote, you do not have to be a genius to be a surveyor, but it helps, it does help.







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