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Why Do I Need a Land Survey?

by nicola on March 13, 2018 in Blog

It’s for responsible land development and property construction. Land surveys are crucial in determining land boundaries and hence, the project scope. Going beyond those boundaries mean encroachment and legal violations.

Aside from compliance and responsibility, accurate land surveys also aid in project planning. With accurate information about the boundaries and the features of the land, engineers will be able to craft designs and plans accordingly. For instance, surveys reveal the exact locations of driveways and other nearby features of the land. This additional information is helpful to engineers who formulate plans and designs.

Before buying land, land surveying is also important

Land surveys are valuable to property buyers who want to avoid future legal disputes. They could prevent encroaching on another’s property. It’s also important in preventing other people from encroaching on your own.

Land surveys reveal possible encroachments before they become alarming and excessive. This is especially important in large scale residential and commercial construction projects. Working beyond the property corner or line can be very expensive to retract and demolish.

In other words, land surveyors will tell you if you can legally develop or place a structure in the property. In addition, these licensed professionals will also determine if the land can be legally subdivided.

What does a land surveyor do?

Let’s summarise the tasks of land surveyors for your reference. Here are their most common duties and responsibilities:

  • Determine the exact location of the property lines and corners
  • Perform contour studies (get an idea of the varying elevations on the land)
  • Research land records and land titles
  • Mark property boundaries to prevent or resolve disputes

They gather the required skills and knowledge through a bachelor’s degree and relevant training (e.g. apprenticeship under a licensed surveyor). They also need to be licensed before they can actually perform the surveying themselves.

Those are required because of the nature of the work. Accuracy is the priority to prevent legal issues. In addition, any mistakes during the survey and planning could be very expensive for the property developers.

As a result, licensed surveyors (especially the experienced ones) are:

  • Detail-oriented (precision and accuracy of legally binding documents are critical)
  • Excellent communicators (survey reports are important in planning, surveyors should be able to explain various constraints and details of the project)
  • Good in time management (most projects require tight deadlines, the whole surveying team should be able to meet deadlines without sacrificing accuracy)

Accurate surveying goes beyond having technical skills. After all, the whole construction project may heavily depend on the accuracy of the survey. Whether it’s a single building project or a main road construction assignment, licensed surveyors always prioritise accuracy.

How surveyors work?

It’s often a combination of field work and office work. They visit the job site and usually perform their tasks no matter the weather outside. It’s especially the case when there are tight deadlines or the weather won’t turn for the good anytime soon.

From their offices they might travel long distances before they can reach your site. They may also need to stay at your site for extended periods of time. This is to complete the assignment and possibly perform continuous work (instead of going to and from the site).

Due to the varying terrain, surveyors may need to deal with varying elevations (e.g. climbing small hills). The team might need to carry surveying instruments (e.g. theodolites, electronic distance metres and GPS units) as they take measurements on the various sections of the land.

All these are necessary in completing the surveying work. In addition, they may also need to perform additional verification work if necessary. They may also work with engineers and managers to aid with construction planning.

What about building surveyors?

Many people are confused or just use the terms (land and building surveyors) interchangeably for convenience. However, land surveys are often associated with determining boundary lines and corners.

On the other hand, building surveyors might be more focused in the assessment of existing buildings (whether newly built or an old establishment). This is to ensure that the building complies with modern standards and regulations. Their services might also be required to assess the “energy efficiency of a building.”

Building surveyors may also assist you with the approval of your building plans to the council (including building permit processes). Building surveyors may also do inspections during and after construction. This is to ensure compliance and adherence to standards and building codes.

It’s important to verify the professionals’ scope of services before hiring them. It’s also advisable to request a quote and include the specific services they offer.

How much does a land survey cost?

It depends. The most reliable and accurate way is just to request a quote. The resulting quote could depend on the type of project, property terrain and other factors (such as availability of certain records).

As mentioned earlier, the surveying team may need to cover huge terrains and deal with long travel times and harsh working environments. It’s especially the case with remote areas or other job sites far from the main cities.

More importantly, accuracy is the priority in this type of job. Surveyors may need to use additional sophisticated equipment to finish the work. They’ll also perform advanced analysis and other verifications on the field or at their offices.

Other surveying services

The professionals you hire may also do high definition surveying. This is valuable in gathering information about existing building structures. The result will be a 3D survey that shows the details of the site (including the perception of depth).

Many firms take advantage of this for their restoration and renovation projects. It’s especially important in heritage restorations wherein more details are required to formulate a comprehensive plan. For instance, many areas might be already inaccessible or vulnerable to multiple visits (certain floors and walls are already compromised).

With a 3D survey, those areas might be seen and further verified. Perhaps the vulnerabilities are structural (e.g. foundations and support systems are compromised). The 3D survey, which resulted from billions of points, may provide new insights to project engineers when planning the restoration.

Aside from additional information, 3D surveys also offer the following advantages:

  • Fast results (up to 3x faster than traditional surveying methods)
  • Easier visualisation (resulting model is easier to interpret)
  • Fewer client interruptions and fewer site visits

Land surveying for large scale projects

Roads and civil works also require top-notch accuracy. That’s because each millimetre actually matters in successfully placing the roads. Surveyors may need to use sophisticated technologies and tools relating to robotics and navigation systems.

Licensed surveyors may also need to perform additional topographic surveys. This is to further analyse the ground contours and existing features on the earth’s surface. Varying elevations and terrains need also to be taken into account before commencing any construction or excavation activity.

A professional surveying team may also perform volume surveys. They will accurately determine the volumes for excavation and fill quantities. This is valuable information for minimising the costs related with the import or export of material. In addition, the volume surveys could serve as reference when paying contractors for excavation work.

Why do I need a land survey?

We’ve gone beyond answering that question. Aside from discussing the need for accurately determining property lines and corners, we’ve also discussed what surveyors do and how they accomplish their work. We’ve also discussed their other services and capabilities such as 3D scanning, topographic survey and volume surveying.

Here at Geosurv we’ve performed various surveying jobs for our clients in Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong, Newcastle, Adelaide, Cronulla and Gold Coast. Our licensed surveyors and professional team use sophisticated tools and technologies to ensure accuracy.

Contact us today and let’s discuss your project requirements. We can work with tight deadlines while still ensuring accuracy. Our client-focused team have already serviced a wide variety of industries (residential and commercial construction, roads and civil works, government infrastructure).