Owning commercial property is no easy task (and one that gets harder according to recent homeownership studies). It requires you to be updated on a host of details that sometimes change at a moment’s notice.

One of the most critical details of property ownership is defining boundaries. Boundaries come in the shape of fences, doors, and state lines, to name a few. What happens when you don’t know what qualifies as a boundary or not? If you’re unprepared, this question can put you in legal trouble. 

The property boundary survey is one such way you draw clear lines in the sand so nobody is confused. We’ll explore the most common question about boundary surveys below so you can face the future prepared. 

What Is The Purpose Of a Boundary Survey?

Let’s start off with the basic definition of a boundary survey (also known as a property boundary survey). This essential document is used to define the limits of your property legally: this is also called ‘parcel of land.

Before you begin owning and running a property, you need to define what belongs to who. Failing to do this essential step early on will expose you to legal difficulties that will cost all parties precious time and money. Once a boundary survey is completed and submitted, your surveyor can provide you with visual materials outlining your property. 

Related: What Exactly Is a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment?

What Is Boundary Determination?

A boundary determination is essentially the information gathered during the boundary survey. This action defines legal boundaries using a series of tools and resources provided by both the property owner and previous owners.

These tools and resources can look like:

  • Deeds
  • Historical photographs
  • Physical measurements
  • Online tools such as Google Street View
  • Previous land registries

Related: Does a Buyer or Seller Pay For a Land Survey?

Do you need a boundary survey for your commercial property? We provide surveying solutions for property investors. Check out Millman National Land Services to learn more.  

What Does a Boundary Survey Show?

The boundary survey has to be an accurate representation of every single foot of the available property. It may sound like splitting hairs, but boundary limitations are a serious issue that needs to be treated professionally.

A boundary survey will be separated into sections including:

Basic Registry Research

The world is in a constant process of being split up, claimed, and split up again. Registry research exposes you to important information about past owners. 

Registry research involves browsing public and private documents available through commissioning offices, libraries, or agencies. Witness statements and neighbor testimonies can also be used if there is a lack of documentation.

Draft of the Deed

Just like an essay needs to go through a few steps before being finalized, so too does a deed need a draft. The deed draft is written out after the research step is completed, outlining boundary lines as accurately as possible.

Mistakes can still happen, of course, which makes the deed useful for providing intent. When you put your best foot forward, you’re more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt if something goes wrong.


Reconnaissance is the physical task of going through the property and marking every foot, corner, and landmark involved. This surveillance will ensure that the map and the deed are as accurate as possible.

Wooden stacks, flags, or tape mark boundaries visibly. These are often brightly colored to stand out against foliage. 

Submitting the Data

After research, deed drafting, and reconnaissance, it’s time to submit the data. The following information will be put into public and/or private registries for recording purposes:

  • Corners
  • Encroachments
  • Acres

How Does a Boundary Survey Work?

A boundary survey works by providing the property owner with legal verification to own and run their property. If someone violates this property — such as trespassing or vandalism — the owner will have legal recourse.

Do I Need a Boundary Survey To Build a Fence?

person writting on paper

Yes. The fence is one of the most apparent boundaries around, so you can’t just install it and call it a day. 

A boundary survey will ensure you’re not accidentally building a fence that encroaches on someone else’s property. This can expose you to all kinds of invisible tax liabilities or potential fines, both of which will cost you more money than simply doing a boundary survey upfront. 

Related: What You Need To Know About Commercial Due Diligence

What Is The Cost Of a Boundary Survey?

It’s in your best interest to spend a little money now so you don’t have to lose more money later. A boundary survey ranges between $100 to $600, sometimes a little more. 

The cost will depend on the legal boundaries you’re defining, as well as the size of your property.

Wrap Up

The boundary survey is the most straightforward and well-researched way of setting limits. It’s legal and financial protection for property owners so they don’t step on anyone’s toes.

A commercial property boundary survey is your responsibility to fill out and submit before running a property. Failing to complete a boundary survey and overstepping your bounds will expose you to tax liabilities, heavy fines, and even court hearings. Fortunately, boundary surveys are usually straightforward to complete and provide legal protection for years. 

Are you in the middle of determining where you stand with your commercial property? Come to Millman National Land Services for an expert land survey.