Taking on a significant project like property fencing will force you to do it right the first time. If you cut corners in an attempt to save time or money or don’t do your research or due diligence, then it’s possible for you to re-do the project all over again. Any attempt to take shortcuts in such a vast project is risky and may lead to costly consequences.
If you’re planning to fence your property, you must make the appropriate preparations. A critical part of this preparation process is determining where your property line is. This information is crucial not only for you but also for your fence contractor. They will use it to place the fences where they need to be correct.
The only problem is that property lines can be challenging to find. So, how do fence companies determine the property lines of their clients?
Checking the Assessor’s Office or Official Website
The easiest way to find your property lines is to check them through the local government. Every county in the United States keeps its public records for safekeeping, including plat maps. Plat maps are the drafts of public lands that show the same land division of every town or subdivision.
You may already have your deed at your disposal, but that’s it – it’s just a deed. A plat map will directly translate the deed into a detailed map easily understandable by a non-specialist. This file includes detailed information such as the distance and bearings of each land section and even vegetation information. In addition, plat maps give fence companies the aerial views of your property and its exact measurements.
You or your fence company can access your plat maps through your county’s zoning department. For a small fee, you can have a physical copy of your plat map that contains the necessary information to indicate where your property lines are. But if you’re not in the mood to go to your local zoning department (or if it’s located in the next town), try looking it up online and order it instead of traveling to the physical office.
Inspect Existing Documents
Once you buy a property, the previous homeowner will transfer the deeds to you, giving you legal rights to your home and the surrounding land. This deed contains the physical description of your property line, sometimes with measurements. With a tape measure or the reference object used in the deed, you or your fence company can determine your property’s line.
Your property’s deed is an excellent way to start figuring out your property lines. The “legal description” portion of your property deed is where your property borders are specified in words, often using the “metes and bounds” surveying system. The terms “metes and bounds” are the boundaries of your property defined by natural markers that serve as limits to your land.
Remember that if you financed your house and are still paying for its mortgages, your homeowner’s deed is in the hands of your bank or lender. But you can still access the information in this document if you give them a call and make the request. You can also acquire information about the deed from your local county recorder’s office.
Here’s something you need to know: Some information on the deed may not be as valuable as it is now. For example, if you own an older home and the deed says that your property had shrubs or trees, then you can’t use this information easily if those objects are no longer present.
You or your fence company can figure out your property line using a compass or a tape measure and your property deed as a reference.
Inspecting Your Plat Map
Whenever builders finish developing a town or a subdivision, they will mark each lot with a number once a new owner acquires it. You or your fence company can obtain your plat map mainly in three places: online, through your local city planning office, or through your builder.
Counties usually keep hold of old surveys and plat maps for safekeeping. As mentioned above, anyone can retrieve their plat maps for a fee. However, it’s essential to understand that plat maps can sometimes be outdated since they were drafted years, decades, or even centuries ago. This piece of information will help you decide if your old existing plat map is helpful for your project or not.
Plat maps can be a bit intimidating to understand, but deciphering them is pretty simple, especially if you know what to look for. Courthousedirect.com made a great explanation of the information contained in a plat map and how to understand them. The article dives into the details of deciphering a plat map, but you primarily need to know that you should learn what the small numbers on your plat map mean. Plat maps contain a list of the house numbers for each parcel (plot of land) along with measurements and boundaries that separates each parcel from another.
Plat maps are more accurate than deeds because the former contains detailed and precise diagrams, something the latter doesn’t have. These diagrams contain the map of your property lines and can help you or your fence company triangulate data to find relevant information. Fence companies will use this information as a reference since plat maps are reliable, accurate, and unbiased assessments of a piece of land.
Checking Your Boundaries for Existing Physical Markers
One of the easiest ways to determine your property lines is to use the existing physical markers staked on your land. Often called survey property pins, these stakes serve as an outline for a property line and help builders avoid building on the ground adjacent to yours. These metal markers are usually placed underground to establish the corners of your plot of land. To see these pins, look at areas such as the sidewalk, the curb, or the back of your property.
Remember that these survey property pins can be moved and are sometimes difficult to find. These visual clues and physical markers are not always accurate. You only need to use them as a reference since instances such as a utility company moving them to install a gas line may have happened in the past. They can also be pushed down too deep on the ground, making them even more elusive.
If you can’t find them on your property, it’s about time to pick up a metal detector and search for them yourself. Once you find them, though, you need to call a utility company before you start digging them up. Who knows if there’s a gas pipeline or power lines down there? If you hit them, you’re risking a whole neighborhood power outage, not to mention the price you have to pay for repairs.
Conducting a Basic Survey
When in doubt, survey it out. A property survey will help you confirm your property’s boundary lines and legal descriptions. It is a legally binding document you can use in real estate transactions and land disputes. For example, if you’re planning to sell your property in the immediate future, you’d need to show your buyers what’s exactly included in your property. The same goes for a property buyer because your mortgage company will most likely require a property survey done by a professional.
Before any fence companies start their installation process, they must obtain usable and up-to-date survey information from you. So, the question is, how do you get this document?
Here are some ways to obtain a survey.
Contact the property’s previous owner. If you’re on good terms with the prior owner of the property, then it should be easy for you to obtain the survey from them if they still have it.
Review your paperwork. Go to your lenders or title insurance company to see your property’s survey, which was made when you first purchased your property.
Hire a professional surveyor. If you cannot get your hands on your closing paperwork, you can seek the help of a professional land surveyor to re-survey your property. This is arguably the best way to get accurate and updated information on your lot. A seasoned surveyor will take precise measurements, pin or flag your property lines, and provide you with the necessary paperwork.
If you hire a surveyor, prepare around $200 to $1000 for the job. If your property is relatively large, expect the cost to be higher. It’s also easy to find a property surveying near you; the only challenge is to find a reliable one.
These are methods fence companies use to determine property lines. As you can see, these processes are tedious, and obtaining specific documentation such as the property survey will most likely require the help of a professional land surveyor. But if you can easily access the files needed for fencing, the project will be much easier for you and your chosen fencing contractor.
If you’re still searching for a reliable fencing contractor in Connecticut, look no further – we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us so we can provide you with the information you need to finish your project.