Remember that line from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink?” As I was walking the floor at SPAR 3D in Houston, I was trying to deal with a boundary issue at home. There I was, surrounded by surveyors, and I was striking out in my calls home to Ohio surveyors looking for someone to do a boundary survey. I thought about wearing a sign, “Ohio-licensed surveyor wanted.”
There’s good news and bad news in this situation. I know you want the good news first, so here it is. Everyone was busy. It’s not that they were unwilling to do my small job, they were fully booked. As we hear more positive stirrings about construction and infrastructure, that may well continue to be the case for some time. Unless you’re a homeowner in a hurry, that’s good news.
The bad news is the lack of awareness property owners have of the value of licensed surveying. My new neighbors knocked on my door on Saturday morning to tell me they were about to start work on their fence. That was the day before I was leaving for SPAR 3D.
I walked out with them to the property line where they were already taking down the partial fence that was frankly ready to take itself down. Since the fence didn’t extend to the back of the lot (those sections had long been removed) and it was less than a quarter of what they were proposing building, I asked if they had done a survey. I knew they hadn’t because there were no survey markers. I then asked if they had located the pins at the corners of their lot. I could see old leaves from last autumn, so I knew they hadn’t scraped anything away looking for any kind of marker.
I contacted the city to see if surveys were required for fences and to see if my neighbor had filed any kind of detailed plan. Apparently, neither was required, so I started looking for a surveyor hoping to propose at least a shared cost. That’s when I found demand seems to be well ahead of supply.
My role now is to educate my neighbor that a survey would protect both of us. While I don’t suspect any intentional encroachment, I think of another phrase I learned from my father, “Measure twice, cut once.” No one wants to have to do a job twice.
This takes me to the next issue of whether to become an advocate with my city council to add the survey requirement where construction projects involve or approach a boundary. This is clearly in the public interest. After all, the surveyor’s job is to stay true to the line, not to take sides. Whether or not I push for a survey, the next owner of my property might, and if that survey finds the new fence in the wrong place . . . well, we all know where that leads.
And, while we’re quoting well-worn phrases, there is, “Good fences make good neighbors.” I’ve never been fond of that one, but I know bad fences make court cases.