How to Find Out Who Did the Original Survey on Your House

How to Find Out Who Did the Original Survey on Your House


Visit your jurisdiction’s building inspector or the land records office. Many jurisdictions keep surveys on file at the city building inspector’s office. You can also get surveys connected with tax maps or half-section maps from the county’s land records office — usually the county assessor. Copies of property plats, or surveys that show when a large piece of land has been divided into smaller parcels, are often available from the county recorder for free or a small fee.


As a homeowner, it’s crucial that you’re aware of property lines so that you can respect your neighbor’s property and avoid any legal disputes. If you’re struggling to find your home’s property lines, utilize one of the aforementioned strategies, or go online to check. Remember that before you or your neighbor build a fence on the property line, make sure to consult with each other and a real estate agent about your property’s rules and regulations. For more information about buying real estate, check out our other resources for further reading on properties and mortgages.


What Information Do I Need?

A party should have the property address or parcel ID, the name of the document for which he is searching, the document number, the document type and the assessor’s parcel number (APN). The APN may be the assessor’s block and lot number.

When There Is No Property Survey

When there is no property survey, a county recorder may have a plat map. A plat map shows a tract of land subdivided into plots. A developer usually creates a plat map before building a subdivision or a neighborhood. A plat map can be used to determine property lines.

Read More:How to Read Land Survey Plats

Dig Out Your Deed for Additional Info

In older neighborhoods, property owners may have purchased or sold off portions of their yards. Locating a survey pin won’t give you this information, but the most recent legal description recorded on your deed will list any such changes. If you don’t have a copy of your deed filed with your homeowner records, get one at the register of deeds office, often located within your county courthouse.

How much a property survey costs

The cost of a property survey depends on what type of survey you need and the property’s size, location and history. A simple property boundary survey costs anywhere from $100 to $600, while a mortgage survey costs an average of $500, according to data from HomeAdvisor, which lists average costs for various types of property surveys. The more complex a property’s features and records history, the more you’ll likely pay for a surveyor’s time.

If you’re buying a home and need a survey to establish property lines, determine whether a property is in a floodplain or because your lender requires one, you will pay for the survey.

Request Land Records and Maps

To request maps, deeds, and/or patents, please fill out as much of the following information as possible and submit your request to the OGS Bureau of Land Management at [email protected]  or 518-474-2195: Please note:  This office maintains survey maps for state-owned lands and does not file individual survey maps or provide land surveying services for private property.  Please contact the county clerk for recorded survey maps or a local surveyor for land surveying services. What is your name and the person or company that you are representing? What is your contact information (phone number, address, email address)? What is your preferred method of contact? What county or counties is the request located in? What municipality or municipalities is the request located in (ex. town, village, city, and/or hamlet)? What tax map parcel or parcels does the requested cover (ex. 123.45-1-2.3)? What is the physical address of the request (ex. 123 Main Street)? What you are requesting (ex. map, deed, and/or patent)? What additional information or details do you have about the request?

How To Find Property Lines

While locating property lines might seem like an overwhelming task, there are many easy ways a property owner can find or evaluate theirs. Consider the following:

Read The Property Line Map, Or ‘Plat’

A property line map, or a “plat,” is a drawing that maps out your property’s boundary lines, and includes details like elevations, bodies of water and structures. You might even be able to find maps of neighboring properties if you have shared property lines. A plat is typically included with your property’s paperwork, available at your local assessor’s office, or accessible online.

Check The Deed To The Property

One way to check your property lines is to look at the deed of the property. As a legal document about your property, the deed should have a worded description of your land’s boundaries. If for some reason the current deed does not describe the property lines, it will refer you to an older one that does. But know that if you use an older deed, it may include landmarks or other features that no longer exist.

Acquire A Property Line Survey

A property line survey is a precise measurement of a land’s legal boundaries. If a property line survey is not already included with the plat and the property deed, you can hire a professional surveyor to measure out where your property ends and your neighbor’s begins. Land surveyors will also research the property’s history regarding things like subdivisions, easements, and ecological restrictions. Your mortgage lender will usually require a new survey be done for the property upon purchase.

Look For Property Line Markers

Some newer properties might include property line markers, such as stakes, from when the properties were first divided. If you have a more recent property, you can likely still find these markers if you walk your property lines and look closely for stakes that are either sticking up or are flush with the ground.

Retrace the Surveyors Steps

When the surveyors were laying out the original plat, they determined a starting point for all the lots on your block. You can retrace the original steps of the property lines survey by finding the starting point, which will be labeled on the plat as either the “common point” or the “point of beginning” (POB). It is often the center point of a side street. The original surveyor’s measurements will all be listed on the plat. With a long measuring tape or digital tape measure, follow the plat as you would a treasure map, measuring your physical property as you go. Your measurements should correspond with the ones on the plat.

How Much Does A Property Survey Cost?

On average, new homeowners can expect to pay $400 – $700 for a professional property survey. However, the cost of a property survey depends on several factors, such as property size, terrain and location. For example, if you want to survey a wooded area, you’ll end up paying more than if you were to survey a flat, relatively empty piece of land.

Professional surveyors also charge for the time it costs them to do research on your property. A well-documented plot of land will take less time to research and cost less money to survey. It also pays to go local, since travel time is also included in the final price.

Basically, the easier the land is to survey, the less you’re going to pay.

How to Legally Determine Property Lines

Hire a Licensed Land Surveyor

To get an accurate determination of property lines that will stand up to legal scrutiny, you’ll need to hire a professional surveyor. (Note that most states require licensure of land surveyors; check your state’s requirements.)

While a professional survey may cost a a few to several hundred dollars—or more, depending on property location, size, shape, and terrain—it’s money well spent since property disputes cost a lot more in time, potential hefty legal fees, and neighborly goodwill.

What are the different types of property surveys?

Because there are many reasons to have a survey done, there are a few different types of surveys.

For example, land surveys are done to show the boundaries of a parcel of land. There are also topographic surveys, which show the plane as well as the elevation of land. If road improvements are requested, for instance, a topographic survey would be needed.

Other types of surveys include:

  • Monumentation surveys: These are done if you want to add a fence to your property.
  • As-built surveys: Determine property lines but also where improvements can be made, like driveways and sidewalks.
  • Mortgage surveys: Like as-built surveys, these show property boundaries for an entire property that will be mortgaged.
  • Floodplain surveys: Show flood hazard areas.

If you’re requesting a property survey, be specific about why you need it. That way when you get an estimate for the work, it’s accurate in relation to what you need done.

Once your survey is completed, it’s smart to place permanent markers in the ground at the property’s boundaries, and keep several copies of the survey in a safe place (and preferably at least one with your bank in case of fire or other disaster).


Contact your state’s surveyors association once you locate the license number of the original surveyor. For example, in California, you can look up a surveyor by name or license number on the website for the CLSA, or California Land Surveyors Association.


When purchasing property, hire a surveyor to do a current evaluation. Do not rely on an old property survey provided by the owner, because it may not include recent changes to the property that can affect the use and value.

Warning Most lenders will not honor a survey if it is more than six months old.


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