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How to Find Your Property Markers Without Hiring a Land Surveyor

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Land surveys can provide you with details on anything from land elevation to the geological underpinnings of the land, but they can also help you find your property lines. In most cases, surveying takes experience and special equipment, but if you just want to find the property lines, you may be able to do that on your own. Here's a look at the process.

Find a Survey Map for Your Property

Ideally, you want to start with an image or description of where the property starts and ends. This is usually available on a surveyor's map, but these documents can be hard to find. You may have one in your files with your property deed, or it may be stored with local government records. In some cases, the previous owners may have this information.

Generally, the surveyor's map marks out the property lines and/or describes the property boundaries based on other landmarks in the area.

Talk With Neighbours

If you are in a rural area with a large property, you may want to talk with the neighbours. Anyone who has been in the area for a long time (potentially even for generations) may have an idea where the property boundaries are.

Survey the Land

When you have a general idea of where to look for the property markers, start by finding an area that accurately matches a known point on the survey map. That could be a road crossing, a neighbour's property marker or a similar spot. Don't use fences or other markers that may have changed since the map was made.

Then, use a compass to orient you in the right direction, and follow the measurements set out on the survey map to guide you as you move from the known spot to where you believe the property marker may be. To account for elevation changes, use a plumb line.

Basically, just attach some string to a stake at the starting point or have someone hold the string in that spot. Pull the string out to the desired length in the direction you want to go. Then, tie a small weight to another string at the end of the original string. If the weight is not hanging perpendicular to the ground, adjust the string until it is—then, you've found your spot.

Dig Carefully

Property markers are permanent, and usually they consist of a concrete block with a metal plaque. Dig gently to make sure that you don't damage the marker. There are serious fines for damaging or moving property markers. Once you find all the markers, extending a string between them shows you where the property lines are.

For help in this process, contact a land surveyor.