What is a Lot Line?

B. Turner

A lot line, also known as a property line, is the legal boundary around a piece of land. It is used during real estate transactions to help buyers understand the size and features of the property they are buying. Lot lines are a factor during new construction or outdoor building projects, as they may affect the size and location of objects or structures being built.

A lot line refers to the legal boundary around a piece of property.
A lot line refers to the legal boundary around a piece of property.

The location of a lot line is set by land surveyors using surveying equipment along with Global Positioning Systems (GPS). The surveyor will also refer to existing land records in determining where to locate these lines. In many parts of the world, the surveyor will mark the corner of each land parcel using a metal stake. This stake is often referred to as an iron or monument, and may become buried over the years as changes are made to the land. Homeowners may have to use a metal detector to locate these stakes if they are no longer visible.

In some zero lot line structures, buildings that are next to each other actually share a wall.
In some zero lot line structures, buildings that are next to each other actually share a wall.

Many homeowners will find they need to locate lot lines when completing a renovation project, such as erecting a new fence. If the fence is placed over the lot line, it may infringe upon the property rights of neighbors or other land owners. This may lead to a legal dispute over the property. In most areas, lot line disputes are considered private matters, and are not handled by the government. Instead, they must be resolved through mediation or civil court cases.

Lot lines are typically included in a building's design.
Lot lines are typically included in a building's design.

The lot line also comes into play when a new building is being constructed. Most governments have zoning codes that requires buildings to be set back from the property line by a specific distance. Before the setback distance can be determined, the homeowner or builder is typically responsible for locating the lot line. This is usually done with the help of a professional surveyor. The location of these lines may also be shown on legal documents known as plot plans or plats, which show the building footprint in relation to the property lines.

Many homeowners are turning to zero-lot line homes, forgoing the traditional backyard. A zero-lot line home is built very close to the property lines, which reduces or eliminates the space available for front and backyards. These homes may be attached to nearby homes, as with townhouses, or detached. Zero-lot lines homes are much easier to maintain.

The location of a lot line is set by land surveyors using surveying equipment along with Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
The location of a lot line is set by land surveyors using surveying equipment along with Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

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