The following are some brief definitions of the types of surveys and when you may need them.

Land Surveys:

A cadastral (land boundary) survey defines the limits of your block of land and defines the interests and sub-interests (such as easements, leases and covenants) in a piece of land. Survey marks (such as pegs) are placed to show the location of the property corners.

You need a cadastral survey performed to

Check where your existing land boundaries are;
Subdivide your land into two or more lots and have separate titles issued;
Create interests in land such as provide easements for access over parcels of land or to lease a section of land.

Cadastral surveys performed must produce and lodge a survey plan with the Titles office in the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) which forms part of the public record. Cadastral surveys also must legally identify any encroachments on these plans and provide written notification to the owners of the affected parcels.

Identification Surveys:

An identification survey is a type of cadastral survey that identifies where the property boundaries of a title are located. An identification survey re-marks property corners (as marks may have been destroyed over time) and verifies property boundaries in relation to any improvements to make sure they are not encroaching onto the neighbouring parcel of land. Your parcel of land is probably one of your biggest investments so it is recommended to know where your boundaries are and therefore what you own.

Identification surveys are highly recommended when you

* purchase a property (to know the extent what you are buying);
* build a fence (so you can build on the boundary);
* build any structures near property boundaries; or
* want to check for any encroachments.


Contour and Detail Surveys:

Contour and Detail Surveys show the shape, features and services of a piece of land and are usually performed for design purposes prior to construction. Features usually include any visible manmade structures (i.e. existing buildings, sewer lines, stormwater lines and fences) and natural features (i.e. trees, creeks and embankments). Services searches are also performed to provide an indication of the location of services underground/not visible. For urban parcels, the entire lot is usually surveyed while for large rural parcels, a contour and detail survey is often only required over the area where development/building is proposed.

It is highly recommended to have both a contour and detail survey and an identification survey performed prior to building on a property, especially if any structures are to be built near the boundaries.

Set-out Surveys:

Set-out surveys are used as a guide for construction and involve placing marks (i.e. pegs, stakes, nails in concrete) where structures are to be built. However often in the course of construction these marks will be destroyed and so some offset marks are often placed. Surveyors are often required at various times during a construction project to set out concrete slabs, footings, columns, utilities, roads etc.

It is advisable to have a set-out survey performed to assist the relevant trades during construction and ensure items are built according to the design and within the property boundaries. There have been many cases in Queensland where houses/structures have been constructed over property boundaries. This often results in large costs and legal issues to rectify these situations.

As-Constructed Surveys:

An as-constructed survey locates all items constructed on a property and is usually performed to demonstrate the items have been constructed in accordance with the approved design. These surveys are performed soon after the construction is completed and are common for land developments, such as new estate subdivisions, to demonstrate the infrastructure constructed (like roads, water pipes, sewers) meet local government requirements.

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