We have all heard stories of neighbours fighting over a property line that is not clearly defined. A land survey takes the guesswork out of property boundaries by mapping all boundary lines and structures on your property. While we only think about land surveys in relation to conflict, they are also useful when purchasing a new home. A land survey provides an accurate picture of your property so that you know exactly what you are getting into in buying it. Let’s take a closer look at what a land survey entails, how it works, and why it is useful.
What is a Land Survey?
A land survey is a map showing your property’s area and the legal boundaries. It also indicates any buildings and other structures on the property and any roads that touch the property line. It shows GPS coordinates for all corners and measurements for the lengths in between.
An important thing to note is that a land survey only represents the property at a specific point in time. If new buildings or structures are added, an older land survey could be inaccurate and must be used with caution.
A land survey is important to understand the geographic boundaries of your property and provides you with a legal document showing who owns what portion of land. This can prevent conflicts between neighbours since you can prove the ownership of the land.
When to Get a Land Survey
There are several times when getting a land survey can be beneficial. If it has been several years since your land was last surveyed, it may reference structures that are no longer on the property, or lack structures that have been recently added. In general, you should think about getting a land survey if you find yourself in one of three scenarios:
You are buying a home. If you are purchasing a property, getting a land survey of your new property will help you understand the property you are buying and prevent any mistakes in the buying process. You should also get a land survey done if there has been any subdivision of property since the last time a survey was done.
You are financing a property. Your mortgage lender may require a land survey as part of the mortgage application process. This ensures that the property with its structures is accurately represented in the paperwork and that there will be no issues with reselling the property if the mortgage goes into default.
You are doing construction on your property. If you own your property and want to do a major construction project, such as building a fence, then a land survey will help you avoid any problem with the construction, such as accidentally building onto your neighbour’s property.
How a Land Surveyor Evaluates Your Property
A land survey will cost between $1,000 and $1,500, depending on the size of your property and the type of survey being done. For a property dispute, it could cost double if you need a certified copy of your land survey. When the land surveyor comes to your property, they will follow a few steps:
- Review ownership history. The land surveyor will examine your property’s legal descriptions and history and review local databases to analyze the history of the deed and title to your property. This ensures there are no discrepancies about who owns the land.
- Measure all boundary lines and structures on the property. All measurements are taken using equipment like GPS units, digital angular measuring instruments (DAMI), and laser levels and tapes that will give exact measurements.
- Create an ownership map. After taking measurements, a map showing the property’s legal boundaries will be created. All measurements will be displayed on the map, and the finished product will include a description of the land, all property structures, and the locations of neighbouring properties.
In Canada, each province has an association for land surveyors, all overseen by the Canadian Board of Examiners for Professional Surveyors (CBEPS). If you need to hire a land surveyor near you, you can find certified land surveyors by going through the website of the land surveyors association in your province. This ensures that the land surveyor you hire is certified and licensed to work in your province, and you will receive a high-quality map of your property.