Do You Know Your Own Boundaries?

Transit Level – Surveying Device

I am referring to your property boundaries of course! As an owner of a single or multi-family home knowing your property lines with certainty is essential in several situations.  First, you may need them to obtain a building permit if you want to build a fence, repave your driveway, put in a driveway, add an extension to your house, or build a new structure, like a garage, on your property. Second, it is also possible that when you sell your house, a prospective buyer may harbor these future ideas and want to know the true property lines before negotiating a final deal. And last, if you suspect that your neighbor’s fence or garage etc. may be encroaching on your property, a survey can protect you from a future claim of ‘adverse possession,’ where your neighbor claims he owns your property because, essentially, you never objected.

If you own a recently built or developed house, you might be lucky enough to find some surveyor pins (small metal or wood posts) near the corners of your property. If you cannot find those, you probably have a “plot plan” with your mortgage documents. These can be helpful, but be careful because they are not definitive. Your town or city zoning maps (usually available on-line), or the maps kept by your city or town’s assessor’s office (also available on-line), can also have helpful boundary information

To know your property lines with legal certainty, you need to hire a surveyor. For relatively simple projects, you can expect to pay about $1500 in the Boston area. Be aware that you cannot hire a surveyor to figure out just one property line (e.g. your driveway boundary). Once you hire a surveyor, he or she has to do the whole property.

If you have had a good experience with a surveyor please let me know, I am always interested in adding to my list of recommended professionals in real-estate related fields so I can recommend them to others!

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  1. Wendy Weiss says

    Great advice! (I don’t know about Boston, but survey disputes are a frequent occurrence in the Hamptons.)