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We’re going to tell you a sad story this week. A man, let’s call him Elmer, was in a rush to put up a new fence. So he hired a company, got them to construct a gorgeous cedar fence, then set up the barbecue, chaise lounge and other backyard essentials in his private domain. He was happy for a day or two. However, the next door neighbor, let’s call him Wilson, was pretty sure that the beautiful new fence was partially on his property. As you can imagine, this did nothing for community relations, and soon some un-neighborly words were exchanged. After some bad blood and a costly land survey, Elmer had to remove part of that lovely cedar fence.

At Buzz, this is the kind of story that makes us cry.

Like all the best stories, this one has a moral: Survey first. Build later.

Ready for a new fence

Where do you get a survey?

A survey of your property might already exist. Your lender, title company, local tax collector or tax assessor might have one. Try checking with them first. These old surveys should be accurate if you live on a standard city lot. However, if your lot has been altered for suburban development, the property lines might have changed.

If you need a new survey, you’ll need to hire a surveying company. You’ve probably seen those odd-looking people wearing hard hats and hunched over something that looks like an old-fashioned camera. That’s really a compact telescope mounted on a tripod, a piece of equipment called a theodolite. A surveyor will be able to draw up a new survey for you by examining your deed and property description, searching for iron pins and other old property markers, and dragging out his theodolite for a looksy around your yard.

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Understanding the survey

Once you have the survey in hand, now comes the tricky part. What the heck does it mean? First, you need a clean, flat surface to lay the whole thing out on. Then make sure the survey has an official seal. If there’s no state or county seal, it’s not an official mapping of your property. Find the directional indicator and make sure north is at the top. Study the map key, which varies from surveyor to surveyor (We told you this was tricky!). Notice key recognizable landmarks on your property, to help orient your brain to what you’re looking at. If you’re lucky, the survey will be on grid paper. If not, a ruler will go a long way in helping you measure the distance between your boundaries.

Still confused?

We don’t blame you. These things are confusing. Fortunately, at Buzz, we’re used to interpreting surveys. If you have the survey, we can help you understand exactly where your new fence should go. Don’t be like Elmer; take the time to do things right, and you and your new fence will live happily ever after. Give us a call today.

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