When Should I Get A Survey?

Property Boundaries

Fences should not be considered an indication of property boundaries. Legal property boundaries are demarcated by surveyor pins or stakes. These are typically 1/2″ to 3/4″ round iron pipes flush or buried slightly below land surface. Newer pins might have yellow or orange caps that indicate the surveyor’s license number.

Locating property lines can be challenging. Older surveyor pins tend to erode. Older property markers could be metal posts, rebar, pipes or car axles. Those having difficulty locating their surveyor pins, also called corner pins, should contact their city or county government and get a copy of their plat map.

A plat map will identify each specific lot located in a subdivision — as well as the shape and dimension of the lot — and where the surveyor pins are located.

If a plat map is not available, or no pins are found, the next step is to contact a registered land surveyor to locate the property lines and set new surveyor pins. The boundary surveyor will thoroughly research city and county records relating to the land and all adjacent property. After research, the field work begins, reconciling the research with the onsite analysis on the property to determine the final boundary lines.

Boundary surveys might also include property improvements, fences, power lines and any encroachments crossing the property lines. Costs of a boundary survey can vary depending on property size, terrain, vegetation, location and season.

A survey is strongly recommended before subdividing, improving or building on land. Building beyond property lines could result in being forced to alter or remove a structure, fines and lawsuits.

This article was written by ricardocobos

Since relocating from Northern Michigan in 2007 I have lived in Garner (27529) with my wife Melanie and our four children. With personal production of 8MM in real estate sales across Southern Wake County I am considered to be a local market expert in the following communities: Garner (27529), Fuquay-Varina (27526), Holly-Springs (27540), Apex (27502), and Raleigh (27603, 27604, 27606, 27609, 27610)) which spans from downtown Raleigh to Willow Spring including Lake Wheeler. Call or email me, I’m here to help! Ricardo Cobos (919) 526-0183


  1. As a Raleigh and Triangle Area Real Estate Agent, I always recommend that my buyers purchase a new survey at closing. Many buyers try to rely on fences, trees, utility lines swales and old or prior surveys, but nothing is ever as good and accurate as a survey made in the Buyers’ name, purchased BEFORE the close of escrow.

    During my research, I pull any available plat map on file with the county in order to discern any red flags before a purchase is made. However, as you mentioned, things change and shift, and pins get moved. Previous buyers plant trees and erect fences – some with and without proper survey markings.

    If you purchase a new survey BEFORE closing, you will become aware of any encroachments, easements or other encumbrances which may or may not show up if you trace pins, sight your eyes or rely on old records. This way, you can have a discussion with the Sellers to remedy the situation at THEIR cost before the home is eventually yours.