Anyone had a residential land survey performed?

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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#1
Last fall we purchased a new home. There were some unfortunate circumstances that led to us having the survey pins located before the sale went through. The pins at the front of the parcel were located but the pins at the back of the parcel were unable to be located. We believe this is because over the years the neighbors behind us have taken liberties with the lot lines and their fences are on our property.

Has anyone had a licensed survey company come and locate and define the lot lines before? If so what was the cost and how did you proceed after the survey was completed? We have a gut feeling that the two neighbors behind us will immediately go on the defensive about this if we proceed with the survey and it turns out that their fences are on our property.
 
Jun 19, 2004
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#2
Last fall we purchased a new home. There were some unfortunate circumstances that led to us having the survey pins located before the sale went through. The pins at the front of the parcel were located but the pins at the back of the parcel were unable to be located. We believe this is because over the years the neighbors behind us have taken liberties with the lot lines and their fences are on our property.

Has anyone had a licensed survey company come and locate and define the lot lines before? If so what was the cost and how did you proceed after the survey was completed? We have a gut feeling that the two neighbors behind us will immediately go on the defensive about this if we proceed with the survey and it turns out that their fences are on our property.
how much do you suspect they're over the line?
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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#3
how much do you suspect they're over the line?
Three to four feet on the back lot line at a width of 108'. The side lot line could be the same or more but we aren't sure that is why we are thinking about having a survey done.
 

esquared

Forum Director & Omnipotent Overlord
Forum Director
Oct 8, 2000
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#4
Jun 19, 2004
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#5
Three to four feet on the back lot line at a width of 108'. The side lot line could be the same or more but we aren't sure that is why we are thinking about having a survey done.
I understand wanting access to the land you paid for but, it may not be worth the acrimony with your neighbors.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
4,194
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#6
Yeah, I'm hoping he sees this thread and chimes in. I don't know if he is a residential surveyor or strictly commercial/government.
I understand wanting access to the land you paid for but, it may not be worth the acrimony with your neighbors.
There is that side of the equation to think about as well. That is why I created this thread. To send out feelers to see if anyone has done this before.
 
Jun 19, 2004
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#7
Do you have plans that would require the space? I would have the survey done but, probably wouldn't push the issue if they are indeed over the line unless you have a need.
 
Feb 4, 2009
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#8
Last fall we purchased a new home. There were some unfortunate circumstances that led to us having the survey pins located before the sale went through. The pins at the front of the parcel were located but the pins at the back of the parcel were unable to be located. We believe this is because over the years the neighbors behind us have taken liberties with the lot lines and their fences are on our property.

Has anyone had a licensed survey company come and locate and define the lot lines before? If so what was the cost and how did you proceed after the survey was completed? We have a gut feeling that the two neighbors behind us will immediately go on the defensive about this if we proceed with the survey and it turns out that their fences are on our property.
We did in 2011 or 2012, having the property surveyed for the plot lines isn't too expensive. I want to say ours was around $400.
Having them properly stake and record the info is more expensive but if you are just talking flags that is not too expensive.
Honestly even if its a fence that is encroaching your property it should be moved, fences typically aren't issues but they can be when the neighbor sells their home. Banks sometimes don't like encroachments and the liability it carries.

I'm a realtor and just did a transaction with an encroaching fence.
 

NL5

Diamond Member
Apr 28, 2003
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#9
I just got two quotes 1700 and 1900. Was expecting 400-600. Will be watching this thread.
 

esquared

Forum Director & Omnipotent Overlord
Forum Director
Oct 8, 2000
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#10
Yeah, I'm hoping he sees this thread and chimes in. I don't know if he is a residential surveyor or strictly commercial/government.

There is that side of the equation to think about as well. That is why I created this thread. To send out feelers to see if anyone has done this before.
That's why I posted with an "@username"
He'll get a notification of your thread.
 
Nov 30, 2004
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#11
I'm kinda with Magnus. You need to figure out what you want in the end. Surveys can lead to hard feelings, and if you aren't gonna act on the new knowledge, it'll be money and social capital spent for no purpose. Assuming they are over the line, do you want access to that? Might be less lawn for you to mow.

Cost is highly variable per location, both around the country, and within the state/county. Without knowing any details, I think $1k would get you in the ballpark. You can shop around, and get estimates. Typically, you'd want to stick with smaller firms. The big guys might not even want the job, and it'll be priced accordingly. If they have a really nice website, lots of crews, a wide service list(engineering, land planning, architectural, geotech...) you probably don't want them. You want a surveying or surveying/engineering firm only. An exception could be possibly made if one of the big guys did your subdivision not terribly long ago. That makes the work easier, but they may or may not pass the savings on to you, likely not if they're big though.

edit:
Thinking about it further... If you're sure you're *not* gonna act on the new knowledge assuming their stuff is over the line, getting it staked will put the neighbors in your debt, and you'll be the good guy. Everyone goes out to look at the stakes, and you say "That's fine. I see no need to change anything", and they owe you at that point. Getting stuff done sooner is better than later in any case. Less chance of it coming off as vindictive if you don't get along with the neighbors for any reason. Right now, it's 'just policy'. You bought property, and want to know what you got. Later, it could be viewed differently.

If you take anything from my post, it should be that surveys can be more complicated than simply having work done. There can be relationship and personality implications with neighbors that complicates the process, and you could be with them for a long time; like family you never wanted. Consider carefully what you want as a result. Being legally correct isn't always the best outcome for a happy life ;^)
 
Last edited:
Oct 12, 2009
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#12
I'd have it done because I'd want to know. New neighbor (4 years ago) had her's surveyed and I gained ~2', which fully included the red maple we really like.

Side note, every state is different, but if a fence is in place for x amount of time, the property can become the fence owners. It's 25 years in S.C. but some state was only 5 when I researched it.
 
Nov 30, 2004
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#13
Adverse possession is tough to achieve. Every state is different, but I'd be surprised If any allowed a simple fence encroachment as the only evidence. Typically is has to be notorious(Obvious use by the claimant eg putting a building up, farming it, fence maybe...), and typically requires color of title. Paying taxes on the land would be a good start. I doubt it could be done at all in a platted subdivision unless the plat was defective in some interesting ways.

I haven't read land law in years, and any concerns should be taken to a lawyer(a surveyor has no say aside from providing evidence. A claim would have to be validated by the courts), but I wouldn't be particularly concerned about adverse possession in MD.

A more interesting problem is a created RoW on your property, and I believe that would be easier to achieve. Say kids cross your property to get to the bus for years, and you decide to put up a fence. You could be mandated to keep access open to the kids. You still own all the property you're supposed to have, but there's now an easement through it. As always, it varies by state, and I wouldn't expect many to make a claim like that. Too much hassle and lawyer fees to make it happen, but it's a possibility.
 
Feb 4, 2009
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#14
Adverse possession is tough to achieve. Every state is different, but I'd be surprised If any allowed a simple fence encroachment as the only evidence. Typically is has to be notorious(Obvious use by the claimant eg putting a building up, farming it, fence maybe...), and typically requires color of title. Paying taxes on the land would be a good start. I doubt it could be done at all in a platted subdivision unless the plat was defective in some interesting ways.

I haven't read land law in years, and any concerns should be taken to a lawyer(a surveyor has no say aside from providing evidence. A claim would have to be validated by the courts), but I wouldn't be particularly concerned about adverse possession in MD.

A more interesting problem is a created RoW on your property, and I believe that would be easier to achieve. Say kids cross your property to get to the bus for years, and you decide to put up a fence. You could be mandated to keep access open to the kids. You still own all the property you're supposed to have, but there's now an easement through it. As always, it varies by state, and I wouldn't expect many to make a claim like that. Too much hassle and lawyer fees to make it happen, but it's a possibility.
This, much better said than I was going to write.
To my understanding a fence or whatever is generally not going to trigger loss of the land. That usually has to do with a building, like let’s say you build a garage and it encroaches the neighbors property we’ll have to assume the local building department didn’t notice the encroachment. You now have the right to have use of your garage, next owners will have the same right.
Old school stuff is you own land near my house, you don’t use that land for anything. I plant crops on your land and maintain that land for years, at some point that land becomes mine. Again court stuff.
Typical problems regarding encroachments are they can cause title, mortgage financing and insurance concerns however a fence is unlikely to do that.
 

herm0016

Diamond Member
Feb 26, 2005
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#15
In CO, its 17 years and if you use that land for "access" then it can be put into permanent easement for the property. I am counting my years for 20 feet of the abandoned field next to our property. this property is Rural Residential and AG though.

I would get it done and have the fence moved. they can measure off the front and use GPS as well. They could have moved or removed the pins. then it gets a little more complicated.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
4,194
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#16
Thanks for the advice everyone. I think I proceed with the survey. When we purchased the home last fall we caught the realtor and the home owner in a blatant lie about the size of the lot. Word travels fast in a small town so most of the neighbors already know this. So we are thinking if we approach it with the mentality that "We were lied to about the size of the lot so we want to know were the lot lines are and what we purchased." then it hopefully won't ruffle any feathers.
We want to install a privacy fence as well so this will help us determine were to place it.

I did a little searching and will call a couple of places tomorrow to get a quote for what it will cost to get the pins located and lot lines defined.
 
Jun 19, 2004
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#17
I'd make sure my neighbors knew about the malfeasance by the realtor.
 
Oct 9, 1999
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#18
Step 1 get survey done.
step 2 remove fence if it is on your property.
step 3 build your own fence 6" inside the actual property lines.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
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#19
Just a quick update for everyone. I called 5-6 different Engineering firms who perform residential surveys. Some big multi-state firms and then several smaller local firms. Out of the 6 only 2 of the larger firms gave me a quote none of the smaller firms called me back after leaving a message or followed through on emailing me a quote after speaking with someone in the office.

The 2 larger firms came back at $800-$900 to do a pin location and boundary survey. That was a little more than I was wanting to spend but there is a silver lining to this cloud.

After talking with my dad he said I needed to find out who performed the survey in 2010 when the lot was purchased and the home was built. He said that they would charge a nominal fee to reprint the survey they performed. That sparked a memory in my brain because the home owner left the original blueprints with us when he sold us the home.
After I tracked them down and started flipping through them the last page labeled S-1 was a copy of the survey he had done before he built the house. It's not the best image but here is what I found.
 
Nov 30, 2004
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#20
That doesn't look like a boundary survey. It's a site plan for permits and stuff from the county. Around here, little is required from a site plan aside from showing what you want to put on the lot. Might be enough to find some markers if you can find even one on your lot to start from. Might need a metal detector to find buried markers. If you measure carefully, and have the right touch, you can find buried markers with a good compass. You measure to where you think it is, then move the compass around maintaining north/south as you move it. The needle will swing over ferrous metal. Kind of hard to do, but that's how it was done before my time. I've always had electronic locators.

Anyway, I wouldn't take anything on that plan as gospel. Plus side is it looks like a platted subdivision. You should be able to get the plats from the county, and you can then look for corners on your lot.
 

bbhaag

Diamond Member
Jul 2, 2011
4,194
84
126
#21
That doesn't look like a boundary survey. It's a site plan for permits and stuff from the county. Around here, little is required from a site plan aside from showing what you want to put on the lot. Might be enough to find some markers if you can find even one on your lot to start from. Might need a metal detector to find buried markers. If you measure carefully, and have the right touch, you can find buried markers with a good compass. You measure to where you think it is, then move the compass around maintaining north/south as you move it. The needle will swing over ferrous metal. Kind of hard to do, but that's how it was done before my time. I've always had electronic locators.

Anyway, I wouldn't take anything on that plan as gospel. Plus side is it looks like a platted subdivision. You should be able to get the plats from the county, and you can then look for corners on your lot.
Thank you for the letting me know. I just assumed this was a survey because I'm not familiar enough to know better. I will contact the county and see if they have anything on record for my lot.

Using a metal detector I did manage to find two markers on the north corners of the lot. I figured from there I could use a 100' tape and roughly guesstimate were the south corner markers are located and then use my metal detector to locate them. Unless they are on the other side of the neighbors fence.....sigh.
 
Nov 30, 2004
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#22
If that site plan is accurate, it looks like the sidelines are 90° to the road. That'll make it easy to eyeball the back corners. You could also get fancy and pull triangles. Pull, say 50' inline with the other front corner, and make a mark. Eyeball 90° up the sideline, pull 50' and make a mark. You should then have 70.71'(~70' 8-1/2") between the two 50' marks(adjust as necessary), and that'll give you a sight line to pull to the rear corner. All assuming 90° of course. You can do it with other angles, but the math is different.
 
Oct 12, 2009
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#23
Thank you for the letting me know. I just assumed this was a survey because I'm not familiar enough to know better. I will contact the county and see if they have anything on record for my lot.

Using a metal detector I did manage to find two markers on the north corners of the lot. I figured from there I could use a 100' tape and roughly guesstimate were the south corner markers are located and then use my metal detector to locate them. Unless they are on the other side of my fence.....sigh.
fixed.
 

Micrornd

Senior member
Mar 2, 2013
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#24
In my county, a survey is only good for 5 years for a building permit (I know, I know, they don't wear out), but they do allow the homeowner to sign an affidavit stating that nothing has changed since the survey (except other recorded completed building permits) and will then issue a building permit. (And usually then the tax assessor pays a visit when you are not looking to verify nothing has been built without a permit)
It's all about the money ;)
 

Sukhoi

Elite Member
Dec 5, 1999
15,099
4
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#25
My in-laws got into some sort of argument with their neighbor a couple years ago. I think in-laws wanted to replace the fence on that side right where it already was, and neighbors demanded a survey before it was done. Survey ended up showing in-laws were being shorted about 6' of land with the existing fence. So they tore it all down, tore out all the plants on the 6' of land, and put up a new fence. :D
 

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