How to Use a Compass to Find Property Boundaries

Written by jane smith
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How to Use a Compass to Find Property Boundaries

Whether you wish to fence a property, dispute a tax assessment or prove that you live inside or outside a political jurisdiction, you can use an orienteering compass to find and verify your property boundaries. Finding survey stakes can be a challenge, especially if they have been overgrown by grass or weeds, covered by eroded soil or even moved due to landslides. It is a good idea to drive a tall, wooden stake tied with fluourescent tape ribbons to make it easier to find your stakes the next time. Moving survey markers is a crime in most jurisdictions, and will not lead to a permanent change in the legal dimensions of your property.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Orienteering compass
  • 6-feet long wooden rod
  • Fluourescent plastic ribbon tape
  • Metal detector
  • Brush cutter
  • Weeding claw

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  1. 1

    Go to your local County Recorder's office to get a copy of your property boundary description. You may have to pay a nominal fee per page. You cna make the request online if your county has a Web page. Read through your property description checking for any mention of natural boundaries which may no longer exist, such as a stream or creek bed that has gone dry, or a property that is now underwater due to a downstream dam. Request a hearing to get the property boundaries changed if there are significant and permanent changes to items that were former boundaries.

  2. 2

    Locate the point of origin of your property description. Locate the survey stake which marks its position. If necessary, hack away brush or overgrowth, and use a weed claw to expose the stake. Leave a 6-foot tall rod tied with fluourescent ribbon to mark the stake.

  3. 3

    Stand on the point of origin with your orienteering compass open. Turn to face the direction listed in the property description. Walk out the distance given at the agle and direction stated in the descritption to find the second stake. Use a metal detector to assist you if there is a lot of overgrowth or erosion has covered the stake. Mark the second stake with a rod and fluorescent tape.

  4. 4

    Repeat Step 3 for each additional survey stake. Be sure to have a professional surveyor verify the correct locations for your survey stakes before making any permanent changes to the property, such as digging a well, septic lines or foundation, building a fence or wall, and selling or leasing mineral, grazing or water rights.

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