I’m building me a fence, and issues with my neighbours and the property line have been difficult to say the least. 

A few weeks ago I started planning out my new fence. I grabbed a copy of my property survey and a metric tape measure and went out to measure. I had a pretty good idea of where the property line was; some neighbours a few lots down had built some fences, there was  natural ditch between the properties, and the landscapers had laid grass to the middle (They laid my neighbour’s grass first, then a year later they laid my grass).

My survey was very clear and easy to read, from the foundation to the edge of my property line on the west side of my house was 11.64m and on the east side it was 12.96m. So I started measuring. I carefully went out 11.64m. To my amazement I was in the middle of my neighbours yard! I measured from the opposite side of my house, and it was to the same line! I was quite worried, this was a solid 1-2 meters past the ditch, and past the grass line, which was also the line where the neighbours had built their fence!

I quickly started worrying that the survey was wrong. I spoke to a few people who all said that they had never heard about a survey being wrong. It was suggested that to back up my measurements I should find the iron bars that exist at the corners of the property that are put in the by the surveyer. 

I spent a few days trying to locate a metal detector; turns out that my friend Jim has one. He came out and we spent about 1.5 hours trying to locate the bars. Not much luck. We tried a new tact, and went out to where I measured the property line to be. Then tried the metal detector right there. Sure enough it hit. So we dug down about 8-10″ and sure enough found the property bar. I measured from the house again, and it was acurate to the centimeter. 

I replaced the grass, and finished my measurements to mark the property line. It was at this point that I figured that some of my neighbours would be angry. My immediate neighbour to the rear had already planted a garden in my yard, and his neighbours a few doors down had built their fences a solid 4-5 feet over the property line. 

Over the next few days I saw a few neighbours staring questioningly at the stakes I had put in. I ignored them as I realized that I was right. 

This past Sunday, I went outside to finish planning my fence according to the property lines I had marked. As I was outside the lady who lives directly behind me came out to question my measurements. I explained that I had found the property bar, and that it matched exactly with my survey. She suggested that we should have someone professional do the work. I explained that my embossed copy of the property survey which has been registered with the city is about as professional as you can get. She asked to see the survey, I fetched a copy and explained exactly what I had found. She seemed content with my explanation. I proceeded outside to continue my planning.

No less than 5 minutes later, the husband of the same lady came storming out. He was yelling that I was ruining his lawn, and that I should ‘Get off his property!. At this point, he began taking the stakes I had put in and throwing them towards my house. I explained to him that according to my survey, it was not his property, and that it was actually the property line. He continued to be upset telling me that it was his lawn, and that he could tell based on where his builder had installed the grass. I tried to explain that where the grass was installed meant nothing. I showed him my survey, at which point he asked where I got it; I explained that he should have received one from his builder.

He asked for a few days to get a survey and double check my measurements. I told him that I had no problem with it, but I wanted him to leave my stakes alone so that I could plan my fence.

The next day (yesterday), I went out to do some more work in the back planning the fence. The same neighbour came out and told me that he had his survey and that my measurement was closer then he expected. He said I was over by about a foot. I knew this wasn’t the case, but was pleased that he was caving. I started to explain that with the property bar I had found, that I had the exact line. Just as he was about to argue again my nextdoor neighbour Mitch appeared like a white knight; a wrinkled survey in one hand, a can of beer in the other, and a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He told my neighbour not to argue because he had measured and I was bang on. 

This was the perfect ice breaker, I offered to show the opposing neighbour what I meant, we looked at Mitch’s survey which showed that it was 11.64m from the corner of the house to the property bar, I measured with my metric tape measure, and showed him that it was exact to the centimeter.  Mitch then started explaining to me that the other neighbour to the rear had come out to tell him, that my measurements were ‘way off’. Mitch explained to him, that according to his survey, my measurements were correct. Mitch had asked to see the other neighbours survey, at which point he apparently told Mitch he didn’t have one. Mitch told him to not argue without any evidence to back him up.

As I was discussing with Mitch, we saw the other neighbour measuring from his house again. I was shocked! He was pacing it out! He had the nerve to argue with my measurements and the placement of the property stakes, and he was PACING IT OUT! I offered him my metric tape, but he declined. I asked what his survey measurement was, and he told me it was 8.23m according to his survey. That made perfect sense according to the measurements I had made. 

A few hours later he came back out to me and told me that he had measured a few more times, and he conceded that I was correct, and that he would make plans to move his garden. 

It is a great relief to me that my greatest opposition has conceded the fight, but the more interesting element will be the other neighbours further down the row who have already built their fences, and their fences go well past the end of their property. I will post updates for future battles here.

I am still shocked that so many people are willing to argue, complain, and build fences without ever looking at their property survey! Anyway, this has been an entertaining few weeks.