How to Find Your Property Pins and Determine Property Lines for Your Fence

You may be unfamiliar with property pins. However, every Minnesota homeowner who plans to install a new fence needs to be aware of them.  Knowledge of property pins is necessary to determine where the property lines for your fence are. 

Why Determining Your Property Lines Is a Must

Homeowners have a legal duty to ensure the fence they have installed is on their side of the property line. After installation, it would be unpleasant to discover your new fence is exactly in your neighbor’s yard. Your neighbor would have the right to remove the fence or require you to move it at your expense.

What Are Property Pins?

When your property was platted, a licensed surveyor marked the property’s boundaries with metal stakes. Those metal survey markers are known as property pins. Surveyors put property pins at each of the property’s corners and anywhere where the property line changes direction.

In times past, property pins were simply metal pipes driven into the ground. More recent property pins have a plastic cap that indicates the license number of the surveyor who set the pin. 

Property pins that have been set by a professional surveyor are the legal indicator of where property lines are. Informal boundary markers like your old fence or your neighbor’s row of neatly manicured shrubs may not be in the same place as the actual property lines. 

Why Finding Survey Markers Can Be Challenging

Although surveyors usually set property pins so that the top is at the ground surface, they can be hard to find. Over time, property pins may accidentally be buried or removed. It’s common for such mishaps to occur during utility work, landscaping, property grading, or construction projects. 

Ways to Locate Your Property Pins

Check Your Yard

In recent years, it’s been a common practice for a surveyor to put a wood lath next to a property pin. These thin pieces of wood do not last long in the elements. Therefore, homeowners sometimes replace the wood lath with a brick or a metal fence post. If the previous homeowner did this, you may find the property pins next to the brick or fence post.

Inspect Your Home Purchase Documents

Your property’s legal description may provide enough information to help you find your property pins. The legal description will be on your deed and title policy.

When you closed on your home, you may have also received a Certificate of Survey. It also includes the legal description as well as property dimensions and a description of the property pins. Using the data from one of these documents, you can locate one property pin and measure from it to find the rest.

Reach Out to Your County

The plat that includes your property will also show the location of your property pins. Depending on where you live, plats are on file with the office of the County Recorder or the County Surveyor.

Search with a Metal Detector

If you didn’t find your survey markers where the documents said they should be, the property pins could be buried. Since they are typically made of iron, you may want to rent a metal detector to locate them. For your safety and to comply with the law, it’s important to contact Gopher State One Call before digging.

Contact a Surveyor

In the event you still have not found your property pins, they may have been removed. Due to the requirements of state law, only a licensed surveyor can replace them. 

For decades, Security Fence & Construction has been helping property owners in the Twin Cities add beauty, value, safety, and security to their homes and businesses. Contact us to receive a free estimate for your fence installation.