Property disputes happen more regularly than you might expect. When they do, they often involve questions of where a property line lies or who should have access to the property. And, while your real estate contract probably contains a legal description of the property, that can be difficult to translate into the real world.

When a real estate dispute arises, it can be extremely helpful to have a professional property surveyor provide you with accurate information about your property.

Here are some issues a survey of your property can help answer:

Where are the boundary lines? Knowing the location of your boundaries is essential before you add a fence, widen a driveway or build an addition. It’s quite common for neighbors to share inaccurate assumptions about the location of the boundary lines, which can lead to disputes.

Are the legal descriptions different? There are sometimes discrepancies between the legal descriptions of two properties. A survey can identify these discrepancies and provide evidence for how to resolve any disputes.

What improvements exist? Typically, a surveyor will certify that your buildings and improvements don’t violate applicable laws, ordinances and regulations, or let you know that they do.

Zoning. Although you may already know whether your property is zoned residential, commercial or light industrial, for example, you may not be aware that zoning laws restrict how you can use the property. Your surveyor can usually tell you if you are in violation of a local zoning ordinance.

Jointly owned features, overhangs and projections. A survey can identify shared driveways, walls, fences and other features on the property. You could have legal obligations toward the joint property owner. Also, a survey can identify any obvious encroachments on your property, including projections and overhangs.

Easements and rights of way. These are essentially legal agreements to allow others to cross or have a right of way on a property, and they are not easy to take back. It’s common for neighbors to have rights of way or an easement where it is more convenient for them to reach a destination using your property. Also, utilities typically have easements that allow their equipment and personnel on your land.

Access, ingress and egress. Most properties have and require vehicle access to the nearest road. A survey can tell you whether that access is appropriate for specific types of vehicle traffic, ranging from owner vehicles and ambulances to delivery trucks.

The location of utility equipment. You should still call the gas company before digging, but a survey can identify the location of buried pipes, drains, cables, wells, manholes and other municipal or utility equipment on your land.