6 Myths & Misconceptions about Land Surveying

Written by Posted On Saturday, 21 September 2019 07:05

Land Surveying

A land survey is remarkably complex, much more so than most people presume.

The surveyor must research and decipher historical surveys, scour the field for existing stakes and monuments, and then take the topography and obstacles such as fences or buildings into consideration. And that’s all before the survey can even begin. As a result, the profession is widely misunderstood by the general public. So to help clear up the confusion, we’re going to debunk 6 common myths and misconceptions about the trade.

1. Land Surveys Have A Standard Rate Determined By Parcel Size
Understandably, someone unfamiliar with the industry might assume that the land surveyor charges per square metre. After all, that’s how realtors price land. The truth, however, is that the size of the plot only marginally affects the price. Land surveys are costed on their complexity, in which several factors come into play:

• The existence of previous surveys
• The quality of existing records
• Markers and monuments in the field
• The date the land was partitioned
• The topography
• The ground level visibility
• The presence of obstacles such as fences and buildings

Because these factors vary considerably between plots, there is no way to provide a land survey estimate based on the parcel size alone.

2. Land Surveys Are Too Expensive
An Australian land surveyor will charge about $160 per hour, which will usually end up costing an everyday homeowner somewhere between $500 and $1000. Granted, that’s a fair bit of coin, especially if you’ve already stretched your renovation/extension budget to the extreme. But have you considered the cost of not doing a land survey?

If you were to build close to the borderline and encroach onto your neighbour's plot, they’d be well within their legal rights to make you tear the whole thing down. And that $500-$1,000 land survey will start to look pretty cheap compared to complete demolition and rebuild.

3. I Don’t Need A Survey Because We’ve Got A Fence or Stakes
Plenty of property owners are of the false belief that an existing fence is an accurate representation of the boundary. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. First up, fences are cheap to build and easy enough to modify if need be. Therefore, it’s entirely common for property owners to forgo a survey and build their fence wherever they believe the boundary lies. After all, they can just move it later if need be.

Secondly, land surveying technology has evolved substantially over the years. So, even if your 30-year-old fence was erected based on a professional survey, that survey would be well out of date and probably inaccurate. The same applies to stakes from a previous survey. Not only are these potentially inaccurate, but they also won’t hold up in court.

4. Neighbours Rarely Encroach Over Each Other’s Properties Anyway
Residents and businesses encroach on each other’s land all the time, regardless of whether they mean to or not. In fact, the situation is so common that the entire land surveying industry exists solely to prevent it from happening. Don’t assume it can’t occur to you.

Inadvertently building over someone else’s property will eventually require a complete knockdown and rebuild. On the flip side, you’ll be missing out on a chunk of your hard-earned land should someone do the same to you.

5. I Don’t Need A Survey Because We’ve Had One Done In The Past
If you do manage to find an old land survey from decades ago on a government register, there’s no guarantee it’s accurate or legally sound. Because land surveying technology has come such a long way, it’s common for modern surveys to have vastly different results than those of the past. Furthermore, land surveys are based on various pieces of evidence, some of which might not have been available the first time around.

6. A Land Surveyor Will Help Me Maximise My Land
As amicable as your average land surveyor maybe, he or she is sworn to a strict code of conduct that safeguards impartiality in the trade. A land surveyor will never act as an advocate for your claim. Instead, they’ll objectively relay the findings of their report for you to use as you please.

Hopefully, we’ve cleared up some of the common misconceptions surrounding the trade, and you’re now well aware just how vital a land survey is. If you’re looking for expert advice for all your surveying and planning needs, get in touch with the reputable town planning consultants or land surveyors in Melbourne.

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