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A New Fence & A Property Survey

I’m having a new fence constructed along one of the side property lines in my yard. The contractor has been hired, and I’m in the process of putting the finishing touches on the design drawings and the specifications for the project, which I’ll give to the contractor to build from.

 My husband and I both had our thoughts about what type of look the six foot high fence should have, and what we wanted it to accomplish for the yard. I had a few meetings with the contractor to get cost estimates for various elements of the design, including sizes of lumber that I want to use.

Before any construction occurs though, there is one extremely important part of the project that needed to be done. And that is a property line survey. In my profession, I know that a property survey is a necessary part of a project that will be built near a property line. And if a contractor is experienced and reliable, they know this is necessary, too, and most likely wouldn’t take on the job without a survey being done.


The Property Survey & How It Was Done

The survey was scheduled, and the other week the surveyors came and located the property corners of the lot.

The first thing the two surveyors had to do was to find the corner property pins in the front yard. These pins are typically a thick metal rod that is driven into the ground. Corner pins are located when a lot is surveyed for the first time when the subdivision is being developed, and each lot is given a legal description which includes directions (bearings) and distances for the property lines. This is one of the papers a homeowner receives when they purchase a house or a lot.


The orange color is spray paint that the surveyor uses to make the pin more visible when using the surveying equipment.


A pin is set at every property corner, and a property that has many lot line angles, has a lot of pins! Overtime, the pins can get covered by things like topsoil and lawn.

The surveyors couldn’t find the corner pins in my front yard, so they went over to two of my neighbor’s yards – directly across the street, and right next door, to see if they could find their corner pins. They found the pins using a metal detector, and dug up a small piece of the lawn to uncover them.

They used the corner pin in the neighbor’s yard across the street to set up their survey equipment at point. Since the lots on both sides of my street were developed to mirror each other in size and bearing, my neighbor’s corner pins would be directly opposite mine.

The surveyors were now set to ‘shoot’ the side property line where the new fence will be located. The surveying instrument they use to do this is called a transit, and it locates the property line by using the bearing and distance information from the lots original or last amended survey.


The surveyor’s transit sets on a tripod with adjustable legs. You can see the hole of the uncovered pin directly under the transit.

I asked them to set an additional stake at mid point on the side property line for the convenience of having an extra stake to mark the property line with during construction


Pin Location

Some homeowners may not realize this, but the corner pins on property lines that are adjacent to a street aren’t usually set at the curb or street edge, but rather on the right-of-way line which can be located back into the yard.


You can see the corner stakes (with the pink surveyor ribbon) that locate the corner pins in the front yard – there’s one in the distance across the driveway. The stakes were set at the intersection of the right-of-way and the side property line.


Things to Consider

A property, or lot, line is invisible. It would be a mistake to guessimate or eyeball its location, and, not getting a needed survey done could be costly.

Also, other items that need to be know before beginning a project near a property line are the size and location of any setbacks and/or easements.

Always check with your local building department to comply with code and requirements, like permits and drawing submittals. Before construction begins, I will be submitting drawings to my local building department for the new fence.



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