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How to Find Your Property Line & More: Everything You Need to Know

If you want to build a fence, take down a tree, put up a shed, or anything else on the periphery of your property, you’ll need to determine exactly where your property lines are.

Welcome Homes
/ Jan 13, 2022 / 3 min read

If you want to build a fence, take down a tree, put up a shed, or anything else on the periphery of your property, you’ll need to determine exactly where your property lines are. 

What is a property line? 

A property line (sometimes known as a boundary line) is the legal boundary that separates your property from your neighbor’s. It’s where your property begins and ends. 

Why are property lines important? 

There are four main reasons it’s important to know the precise location of property lines:

1. If you plan to buy a property, mortgage lenders and title insurance companies typically require a current survey specifying property lines. 

2. If you plan to sell a property, you’ll need to know the size and boundaries of the parcel to correctly describe and price it. 

3. If you want to build a fence, home addition, pool, shed, landscaping or anything else on your property, knowing the property lines will dictate where they can and cannot go and prevent you from infringing on your neighbor’s land. Additionally, many towns and municipalities have rules and regulations prohibiting property owners from erecting structures too close to a property line. Build without checking where your property lines are and what the required distance is and you risk hefty fines, frustrated neighbors, and a large bill to remove or relocate whatever you’ve added. 

4. The inverse is also true: If your neighbor wants to add a structure or landscape to their property, knowing where their property ends and yours begins will ensure they don’t encroach on your property lines.

READ: How Welcome Homes Selects Land for Custom Homes

How do I find my property lines for free? 

When it comes to finding the exact location of your property lines for free, there are a few ways to do it:

Search the perimeter of your property for stakes or pins. 
When land is surveyed, a land surveyor will “stake the property.” This involves burying markers along property lines and at the corners to indicate the exact location of its edges. These buried pins are steel bars with marked caps, so you can find them by walking the perimeter of your property with a metal detector. 

Check your property’s deed. 
This legal document is a written description of a property’s exact lines. 

Consult a plat map. 
A plat map is a diagram that shows boundary lines, elevations, structures, and bodies of water within your county, city/town, or neighborhood. It’s drawn to scale to illustrate plots of land and property boundaries. This document should be provided when you purchase a property, but if you don’t have it you can get a copy from your local tax accessor or land record office.

How do I find my property lines? 

If you can't find your property lines via one of the free routes listed above, you will likely have to hire a licensed property surveyor. A professional property surveyor will research your property's history, measure and mark exact property lines, and create a property line survey.

How do I comply with property line rules? 

Before digging or building, reach out to your local building or zoning department to see whether you must first apply for a building permit and get permission from your neighbors. The same department can tell you how far structures and plantings need to be from property lines. If you live in a development, don’t forget to check with your homeowners’ association (HOA). 

Though exact guidelines will depend on your municipality and HOA, here are some general rules:

  • Fence: Fences should be two-to-eight inches away from your property line. If fences are built on the property line, you and your neighbor jointly handle their care and maintenance. 
  • Shed: Sheds need to be more than five feet from the rear property line and two feet from the side property line. They cannot be built in the front yard. 
  • Detached garage: If a detached garage will face the front of your home, it can be five to 15 feet from your front property line and five feet from side property lines. 
  • New home: In most cases, a new home will need to be a minimum of five to 10 feet from the property line.

How do I make changes to my property lines? 

Changing a property line requires hiring a real estate attorney, who can handle boundary line adjustments or agreements. For instance, you may decide to cede (or sell) part of your property to a neighbor, in which case property lines need to be officially, legally updated.

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