How do you choose a surveyor?
One of the most important choices you can make when developing a property is choosing the right Surveyor. Get it right and it’s smooth sailing. Get it wrong and even the smallest mistakes can cost you thousands.
Is it really that important? I can tell you after dealing with developments everyday for over 13 years, it really is. I’ve seen countless examples of careless surveying and the consequences have varied from simple fixes to the collapse of an entire project.
If your Surveyor calculates the boundaries incorrectly, your block dimensions won’t be in the right position. If they overshoot your true boundaries somebody else’s land could be included in your plans. This means structures, fences and walls could be placed over your legal area. In these situations any structure built over the true boundary of your property leaves you at the mercy of your neighbours. To allow the structures to stay you are forced to get consent from any affected parties, and this often results in disputes between the landowners. And if you can’t come to an agreement? Unless you’re willing to take the matter further (meaning lengthy and costly legal action) you may be forced to remove the structure and rebuild within the correct boundaries.
Other common mistakes made by inexperienced Surveyors include under calculating boundaries, not accounting for easements and errors consolidating old property and mapping data with new records.
Check out this horror story about a land Surveyor that undercalculated a boundary, costing the owners precious usable land:
“Surveyor determined my backyard was actually smaller than it was and that a large portion of land at the end was actually the school’s land (the backyard backs up to a school) and therefore I was unable to build/take that land into consideration for my granny flat. Granny flat was built but the original plan had to be modified due to this restriction including rotating the structure sideways to fit and additional costs were incurred. Subsequently advised that the surveyor was in fact wrong and the whole land is ours.”
Generally, if a Surveyor’s mistakes cause you issues you can get the Surveyor’s fee refunded. Unfortunately, often any mistakes will cost you more than just the amount of the Surveyor’s fee to fix. To fully recoup these you may need to take legal action which rarely ends up worth it.
So how do you reduce your risk? Make sure you always choose a Surveyor that is fully licensed and certified, has good reviews or recommendations, and one that has a well-established company behind them.
“If you use any person who is not a certified Licensed Surveyor then that person is liable for a $10,000 fine and you will have a survey which has no legal status whatsoever should there be a boundary dispute in the future. To have the correct document to legally define your property boundaries you must use a Licensed Surveyor who holds a Practicing Certificate to conduct Authorised Surveys. A Licensed Surveyor with a current Practising Certificate is the only person with the authority to carry out and “Authorised Survey” as interpreted in section 3 of the Licensed Surveyor’s Act 1909″
-The Land Surveyors Licensing Board of Western Australia
One way to be sure your Surveyor is licensed and that their practicing certificate is current is to go to The Land Surveyors Licensing Board of Western Australia. Here you can search for your Surveyor by surname. For an example, if you click on ‘S’ you will see our in-house surveyor, Tyson James Segaram, including his licence number and the date it’s valid until. We recommend you always do this for any Surveyor that does work for you. It takes two seconds and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
– Abel Jardim