Planning to improve your property? Tips and Informational Handouts

Knowing your Property - Step 1

Before proceeding with a site improvement you should know where your property lines are and any relevant setbacks (placement requirements). Knowing this information will save you time in designing your project and help avoid potential code violations.

Who is responsible for locating my property lines? How can I find them?

Homeowners are responsible for verifying the location of their property lines. The most accurate approach to finding your property lines is to hire a licensed land surveyor. Oshtemo Township’s website offers an interactive map that shows the approximate location of property lines. Click here to access the Township's interactive mapSome additional tips and information are provided below.

Homeowner's Deed: A homeowner’s deed should include a legal description of the plot of land, including its measurements, shape, block and lot number, and other identifiers such as landmarks and geographical features. If the language is tricky, reach out to your real estate lawyer or agent for help in deciphering it.

Existing Property Survey from Mortgage or Title CompanyMost mortgage lenders require prospective homeowners to have a current survey, and your title insurance also depends on it. If you bought your home recently but don’t have the survey, contact either company to see if they have a copy on file.

Property pins: Property pins or boundary monuments are pieces of metal (usually about 30 inches long) that a surveyor uses to mark a property line.  These pins are placed at every corner of the property when the land was initially plotted. This means that property pins might be easy or more difficult to find, depending on the history of your land. If you can’t readily see the pins (they may have been buried over time), use a metal detector to help you locate them.  Please note that although property pins are supposed to be permanent property line markers, property pins have been known to show up in the wrong spot or go missing. It is highly recommended that you measure the distance between the pins and compare the results to make sure they match the corresponding deed or plat.

What is a setback? Why do setbacks matter?

A setback is defined as the required minimum separation between a property line (and/or right-of-way line) and a building or structure. Property setbacks help everyone live comfortably and can be considered the breathing space between properties. Not only do they help create the character of a built environment, they also help ensure better services, ventilation, lighting, landscaping, provide a level of privacy, and a separation between uses. In essence, setbacks are implemented not only for aesthetics but also for the health, safety, and welfare of a community. Additional information on setbacks can be found in the handouts below. 

Planning your project - Step 2

Before putting pen to paper it is highly recommended to confirm whether any additional regulations are applicable for your specific type of project. All regulations are outlined in the Township Ordinance. Click here to access to the Township Ordinance. To assist you in navigating the ordinance and plan your project, Oshtemo now offers a number of informational handouts on a number of specific improvements, see below (more informational handouts to come). 

Getting a permit - Step 3

Most improvements require a permit. Contact the Southwest Michigan Building Authority (SMBA) at 269-585-4150 for details. Click here to access SMBA's website. 

 

Please do not hesitate to contact Oshtemo’s Planning Department at 269-216-5223 or chutson@oshtemo.org if you have any questions on the viability of your project idea for your property.