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This survey of the property revealed where the property line truely is and just where it could be built.

So you’ve got a big back yard and decided that your new screen enclosure should go 20′ off the back of your house.  You’ve spent the whole weekend looking hot tubs and firepits and to fill the space creating your own little oasis.  The one thing you haven’t considered is if you can even build a screen enclosure there.

When it comes to building a screen enclosure (or anything for that matter) you’ll find that your property is not really ‘your property’.  There are these pesky things called ‘setbacks’ or ‘easements’.   Basically they are zoning ordinances which limit where things can be built on your property and even vary by building type and use.   For example, a property could have different set backs for a house, detached garage, pool cage, and screen room with solid roof.  The best way to find out what the setbacks are for your particular property is to ask your local government.  The best method of communication is email, so you have everything in writing (be sure to specify exactly what you will be building).

Once you know what your setback are, you can begin to determine what size enclosure you can build.  Start by assessing your neighboring properties and their screen enclosures.  If their screen enclosure goes back about as far as you plan on building yours, odds are good that yours can be built.  But what if there is nothing relative to compare your enclosure to?

Property Lines Are Never As They Appear.

As the property owner you might expect the property line to go all the back to the lake. In this, property line is only a few feet from the screen enclosure.
As the property owner of this West Palm Beach residence you might expect the property line to go all the back to the lake. In this, property line is only a few feet from the screen enclosure.

Chances are that once you find out the setbacks, you will be perplexed.  You might have a 15′ rear setback but not  be certain where your property line is.   Is that wall of hedges on your property line, or is it a few feet inwards?  Your guess is as good as mine.  This means it is time to get a survey.  Surveys establish exactly everything on your property is sitting and definitively let you know if you have the room to build something.

Some building departments require a survey prior to building a screen enclosure, and some do not.  As a rule of thumb, unless you are absolutely certain the structure will be within setbacks, GET A SURVEY.  The $400 could save you a major headache and loss down the road.

Kenneth Wilson
July 27, 2015

Kenneth Wilson

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

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