What is a land surveyor and why would you need one?

We are just a few weeks away from revealing the Terren designs! While we have been working on developing them my partners and I have spent a lot of time discussing what should and shouldn’t be included in the Terren package. We want to make Terren plans are as comprehensive and ready to build as possible. That’s why we have engaged structural engineers, thermal assessors, landscape designers and estimators. There are, however, a few professional services that we cannot feasibly include in a Terren package as these experts need to be independent and are often chosen for geographical reasons. They are geotechnical engineers, land surveyors and building surveyors.

In my previous article I explained how Geotechnical engineers provide a soil report/assessment of your site to determine the composition of the soil on your site, the stability of natural slopes and various other details. The other assessment we will require in order to assess your land for suitability of Terren plans (or any plans for that matter) is a land survey.

Whilst I deal with these terms every day in my work as an Architect, I’ve recently been asked by potential Terren clients to explain what each of these professionals do, how you should find one to engage and how much you should expect to pay. I’ve tried my best to answer these questions here.

What services do they provide?

A land surveyor is a qualified professional who uses GPS co-ordinates to identify the boundaries and features of your land. This determines the exact ownership of your land and its specific measurements. Whether you are planning to undertake a renovation project or new build, Land Surveyors can be used for a variety of needs to assist with property outcomes. Commonly for single residential properties a feature and level survey as well as a ‘Title Reestablishment survey’ are the most common elements sought by Architects to inform a design. In this way, Terren is no different.

When should you engage a land surveyor?

As soon as you begin to plan a build or large renovation you will need the info provided in a land survey to start to get answers from architects and builders. Whether you decide to go with a volume builder or architectural plans (like Terren) you will need this survey.

What will the survey determine?

A feature and level survey documents the details of the site including existing contours, built forms, fences and trees. If specified correctly, this also considers the details on adjacent properties or roads, all of which are important in designing a home that is compliant with the neighbouring properties.

If required, a land surveyor can provide a title re-establishment. They assess the legal tender title which came with your property (usually part of the section 32) in conjunction with the existing site conditions to determine if the neighbouring fences and structures align on, near or over your property boundary. This could affect the buildable width of your land.

For example, it is common for residential projects to be designed to be close to, if not on a property boundary. There are a number of elements which a land surveyor provides that are critical to the accuracy and detail that we that we, as architects, are expected to provide as part of a design that is ready to be built on your land specifically.

How do you engage a land surveyor?

Commonly, we would construct a brief of information for a surveyor to consider and capture in a feature and level survey, (contact us for this list of questions if you have not already appointed a land surveyor). These items help enable the surveyor to construct a fee suitable for your project. You should also ask for a time frame for completion as this could be a deciding factor between your quotes if time is of the essence for your project.

How much should you expect to pay for a land survey?

This is hard to say as every site is different. The size, slope and features all affect the cost which is one of the reasons we have not included a land survey as part of your Terren package. Generally speaking the land survey for a new home (where the existing home is to be demolished) is cheaper that the land survey for a home where the building is to be partially or fully retained. If pushed I would have to say that a land survey on a block that is roughly 500 square meters for a knock down and rebuild would be between $2500 – $4000 but again there are many factors that could move this price one way or another.

As always, please reach out and let us know if you have any more questions about land surveyors or Terren in general. My next article will discuss building surveyors in case you are wondering what the difference is. Thanks for reading!

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