When planning any type of improvement to a property, it is a good idea to locate the property lines to make sure your planned improvements are on your own property and that required setbacks are met (see Property Zoning for general setback information).
Will the City Locate My Property Line for Me?
The City of Colorado Springs does not offer surveying services for private property. Any licensed surveyor listed in the phone book will be able to locate your property line for you.
If you are planning to construct a building or other permanent structure, the surveyor can also produce a site plan or plot plan for you, showing existing buildings and improvements, as well as any proposed improvements.
If you are planning to construct a fence or some other type of improvement that does not require a full site or plot plan, you can ask the surveyor to perform a “property line locate,” which is oftentimes less expensive than a full site plan or plot plan.
Talk to your selected surveyor to determine which service you will ultimately need.
What Does a Surveyor Do?
A surveyor will locate property lines by either recovering property corners, or setting them if they are not already in place. Often, this may be an easy task if the property corners are easily found where the surveyor visually approximates them to be.
They may simply be visible or easily located using a metal detector. Most property corners will be marked by a rebar driven into the ground with a “surveyor’s cap” place on top. The surveyor’s cap will have inscribed on it the surveyor’s license number, and sometimes the company name that the surveyor is working for.
Older properties will sometimes have only a rebar, an iron pipe, a fence post, or possibly even a chiseled “boundary stone.” In cases where the corners are not easily located, the surveyor will first research the plat wherein the property was created, or the “legal description” if the property is not platted.
Unplatted lots will sometimes have prior surveys that the surveyor may reference, sometimes not. Using the plat, prior survey or legal description along with surveying instruments, the surveyor can “traverse” to the mathematical location of the corner and look for it using the previously described methods.
Various other evidence may be employed by the surveyor to find the corners including fence lines, hedge lines, marked trees, or anything else that is mentioned in the maps and/or “field notes.” If all attempts to find the corner are exhausted and the corner is not found, the surveyor will set his/her own rebar and surveyor’s cap using the plat, map and/or legal description along with the application of surveying principles, when necessary.
In cases where the surveyor sets property corners, he/she will file a land survey plat with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder where the property is located.
Upon request of the property owner, the surveyor will mark the corners with survey stakes and/or other markers so that the corners can be easily located by the owner, contractor, or whomever has a need to know where the property lines are.
In most cases the property line will be the straight line between the property corners; the only exception being when the boundary “line” is actually a curve, which usually occurs along a curved section of street right-of-way. When necessary, a surveyor can set several temporary markers (survey stakes, nails etc.) so that this curve may visually be approximated.
By first setting the “radius point” of the curve, a surveyor may easily set such a point at any place along the curve that is needed by the owner, contractor etc.