How to Find My Property Lines to Put Up a Fence

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Things You'll Need

  • Shovel

  • Tape measure

  • Metal detector (optional)

  • Small sledgehammer

  • Wood or metal stakes

  • Colored vinyl marking tape

  • Nylon string

Tip

Plat maps for all of the properties within a city or county are typically available from your local assessor’s office for a minimum printing fee.

Warning

The boundary corner points for your property are legal landmarks and there are financial, legal and statutory obligations and responsibilities regarding property lines and boundaries. Any questions concerning the location or ownership of property should be verified by a municipal authority before proceeding.

In addition to legal property lines, some local building codes or covenants specify setbacks, materials and height requirements for property fencing. Consult your local building department to insure compliance with all regulations and laws.

The geometry of your property is a legal survey with boundaries defined by steel pins driven at each intersecting corner, regardless of the shape of your lot. The specific coordinates are laid out by a surveyor using specialized measuring instruments, but locating the property boundary is a much less complicated process and can quickly establish the lines needed to build your new fence.

Step 1

Review the property plat survey map for your lot included with your home purchase agreement or mortgage documents, if available.

Step 2

Begin at one end of the proposed fence line and locate the property boundary pin. The boundary pin is typically a 1-inch concrete-filled pipe driven into the ground, flush with the natural terrain, with a stamped metal tag inserted in the top. The boundary pin may have been covered with dirt or plant growth over time and you can use a garden trowel or shovel to explore the surface to uncover the pin. You can also use a standard metal detector to locate the boundary pipe.

Step 3

Mark the property boundary corner with a wood or metal stake driven with a small sledgehammer into the ground next to the pin. Tie a short strip of colored marking tape to the top of the stake to help identify the position.

Step 4

Measure or pace off the approximate angle and dimension of the property line as illustrated on the plat survey and locate the property pin for the next corner. Again, it may have been covered with dirt over time and you can explore the ground surface with a shovel to help uncover the pin, if necessary.

Step 5

Repeat Step 3 to mark the property boundary corner with a wood or metal stake.

Step 6

Tie a piece of nylon string between the two stakes driven at the property corners to establish the fence line.

Step 7

Repeat Steps 2 through 6, if applicable, for each section of fencing along your property line.

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Paul Massey

Paul Massey has been writing since 2009, drawing on a 35-year career in the construction industry. His experience includes 15 years as a general building contractor specializing in architectural design, custom homes, commercial development and historic renovations.