Old surveyors pegs in our (central Illinois) area were 2' long 1"
galvanized pipe. A problem that is common in our locale is that the
early surveyors were evidently sloppy with their magnetic North
settings. When I wanted a precise location for a fence around the
first house I bought, the surveyors discovered that the east-west line
was nearly 2' off to the east. My lawyer advised that modern
technology trumps old, and that legal descriptions must be held
intact. My neighbor to the west was elated that his structures were
well placed and the neighbor to the east was rather upset at losing a
nice fruit tree that had been planted close to the old line and was
now in my yard. Fortunately we all got along.
Later, moving to a nearby town, the same errors arose, this time both
east-west and north-south locations off by about 1 1/2' from 1890 or
so surveys. One result was when a neighbor sold her house, it was
necessary for her to have the swimming pool privacy fence moved to the
newer lot line. Encroachment rules did not permit leaving it there
since formal notification and permission had been granted and
relawyering the deal would cost more than moving the fence.
Like they say in cow country, 'good fences make good neighbors', and
that applies to valid lot lines.
I used to have high regard for surveyors. I have done some CAD drafting
of old commercial and industrial buildings and had the current surveys
of them - about 5 years ago.
One building had both property long dimensions about 5 FEET to far to
the west. One of the surveyed property lines went through a loading dock.
One building had a parcel included that was not part of the property.
The same building had a physical description of the building that had an
error (not major).
Another building had a major error in the description of the building
(number of floors). (Location on the survey was OK.)
Another building had a vacated street that had been added. Using the
description in the survey there was about a 5 foot closure error when
you drafted the street (about 450 feet long).
If someone uses your property as their own for a period of time you can
loose it through "adverse possession". Would think you might be able to
avoid that by renting the property for $1 a year, with paperwork. Moving
the fence is a cleaner fix.
'Formal notification and permission' removes the 'adverse' part of
My lawyer suggested I fence across the neighbor's driveway when I
bought this property. It had been in use for 40 years across an
unusable part of my property. We had met the 80 yr old couple who
lived there & had already assured them we wouldn't mess with the
When they died the grandson went to get a mortgage & the bank made him
get permission for the encroachment. Brilliant! I wish my
lawyer had suggested it 20 years earlier. It protects me from adverse
possession-[though I don't think I'd miss that chunk of property
anyway] and protects my neighbor if some future owner of my property
wants to be an ass.
Magnetic north declination is constantly shifting. To determine a
north setting from years ago vs a magnetic north recheck of that
today would require a correction factor for the shifting of the
the true north pole is about 100+ miles from the magnetic north pole.
north is determined by solar measurements rather than compass.
email@example.com (mm) writes:
| How big are surveyor pegs?
| I've made arrangement to borrow a metal detector in the hope of
| finding one or more surveyor pegs. I'm at the corner of the
| development, so the original property was surveyed and perhaps pegged
| at my corner, and the previous owner of my house had his own survey,
| which might have resulted in pegs.
| So it occurs to me, if and when I find the peg, how do other people
| know I haven't moved it? My neighbor is suspicious enough to think I
| might do that.
| How long is it? Regardless, surely it can be removed with hand tools.
| And replaced 6 inches away. Hey! How do I know he didn't do that
| There has already been one survey here. I don't want to pay for a
There's another problem even if you find some pegs. Without a survey
that references them you don't really know what they mean. For example,
I have a peg that could very well be the lot corner but is actually about
six inches off (funny you should mention that number). The last time I
had a survey done they mentioned this but the scale of their drawing was
such that the displacement was invisible. (I asked for and received a
detail drawing that makes it clear.) There is another peg that you might
think was on the rear lot line but is actually a few feet off. N.B. I
don't think these pegs were errors nor has the line moved due to better
technology; they just weren't being used for the obvious purpose.
I believe it's bad form (perhaps even illegal) to remove pegs even if
they are confusing, so they tend to accumulate. I don't think a survey
becomes public record unless it is recorded. If you are lucky the caps
indicate which surveyor drove the pegs, but I don't know that they would
tell you about the related survey if somebody else paid for it. At least
if you can match the caps you might be able to figure out which pegs were
driven at the same time.
I have seen everything from a wooden 2" x 2", rebar, 1/2" x 1/2" square bar,
to 1" pipe. Around here they are only 2 to 3 feet long. I found one old
stake that had a hand forged point on one end and the remains of threads on
the other, it was 3/4" in diameter. I have never seen a brass stake as they
are called here.
I held a lot of measuring poles for my father, back in the days when you
had to use a transit rather than a laser level. I've seen all of the
above. Subdivisions when I was a kid were usually 2x2 wood stakes with a
nail in the top for the metal detector. Sometimes oiled or creosoted to
slow down rot. Lately, I see a lot of rod or pipe, with those dayglo
snap-on caps. In my junk box, I have half a dozen copper-colored 6-inch
metal stakes designed for use in pavement, with a brass head that will
become a yellow dot in the asphalt. I presume they are copper plate over
some harder metal. In Indiana, in the old days, anyone laying out a
rural subdivision had to link a base line back to the nearest permanent
bench mark, often the 'quarter section' post you would see at
intersections. Those were concrete with the brass plug. There were legal
penalties for moving or removing those. (Back in the land grant days,
sometimes people got violent about it.)
I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over it. Short of a high-dollar modern
survey using multiple GPS readings, corner pegs are not decimal-3 exact
anyway. If your county still has the old-style paper plat books, leaf
through one sometime. On the summary page for each section, it lists
what the deeds add up to, versus the size of the section or quarter-section.
The pegs at my last two properties were rebar shafts about 12" or more
long with a yellow or orange plastic cap on one end. I have found
some with a metal detector but others have eluded me. If your
property is in a densely populated neighborhood they might have
moved. By the time a small lot is driven on with dump trucks, cement
mixers and tractors the pins might be very deep, or a foot or more off
of the surveyed location.
Also remember that the pins might not be at or near the curb in a
residential area. if you have an easement (12' for example) they will
be back 12' from the curb, or a given distance from the center of the
street. Doesn't hurt to have the neighborhood planning map.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.