It happens all the time. One neighbor wants to throw up a fence or a garage, and the other neighbor is screaming about how the first neighbor's intended structure is encroaching on the second neighbor's property. It is not surprising then, that such land disputes require some professional help. This professional help often comes in the form of a land surveyor, and here is what the surveyor does to help.
The Surveyor First Reads Public Records
There is a wealth of information in public records regarding your property and every lot in existence. The surveyor first goes to the county courthouse to look up the records on your property and the property belonging to the neighbor that has a dispute with your fence or garage. These records hold the most recent information on the boundaries of both properties. If the information lacks something important, such as the sale of part of the original property to the neighbor that is upset with you, then the land needs to be re-surveyed to correct the errors in the public records.
Next, Your Land and Your Neighbor's Land Are Surveyed
The surveyor then comes to your property, pulls out his/her surveying equipment, and checks the property lines. If new lines need to be marked and drawn up in the public records, the surveyor completes that task. He or she will also verify if your fence or garage has crossed the property line. Hopefully, for your sake, it has not, because your neighbor could sue you for property damage (i.e., damage to his/her property because of your structure).
Then the Surveyor's Paint Lines Are Applied
If you requested that the surveyor make the property lines very clear (i.e., you needed a visual aid to resolve your dispute), the surveyor uses a nice little can of brightly-colored spray paint to mark off the property lines. If you did indeed go over the neighbor's property line, the paint lines will prove that as well. If you did not, but you are extremely close to the property line, you have your "burden of proof" for the neighbor. Be sure you take pictures of the surveyor's paint markers, in case your neighbor is still insistent that you are in the wrong and he/she intends to sue.
Recording the New Information and Appearing as an Expert in Court
The surveyor will then take the new information and record it in the public records. Hopefully, that will be the end of things and your fence or garage can remain where it is. If not, and your neighbor insists on suing, at least you have a third-party professional who can attest to the survey work as an expert.