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  • Mandy Fallon

5 Reasons you need to get an Identification Survey

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Identifying property boundaries seems to be a low priority for a lot of people. For starters, they don’t know what an Identification Survey is, check out my blog “What is an Identification Survey?” for the details and next they don’t know when they need to get one.

I’ve been working in the surveying profession for over 15 years now and it always breaks my heart when I locate a new carport, granny flat or shed, only to tell the owners, sorry but it’s over the neighbouring property or the road.

There are many reasons to get an identification survey, not just for peace of mind. Here are the top 5 reasons.

1. Purchasing a house or any property. Those of you from down south in NSW, getting an identification survey is basically mandatory prior to purchasing a property. In Queensland the contracts say, you have identified that the property you are purchasing is Lot 1 on RP1. I believe in Queensland it should be a mandatory requirement as well. What is a few thousand dollars upfront, when you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the home of your dreams. I have seen people living in one unit, but they actually own the one next door and vice versa. This is a really big problem to fix and it isn’t cheap or straight forward, especially if you have a mortgage over it. Not only ensuring you are buying the correct house and land you believe you are buying, but also to make sure all the structures on your property actually are.

When it comes to properties that have a river or creek boundary, it’s extremely important you know where your boundary is, as that boat shed out the back, might not be on your land. Bottom line is, to make sure the land you purchase is yours, all of the structures on the property are on your land and not over the neighbour's property, ensuring the neighbour hasn’t built partially over your land. To fix some of these blunders can become costly and cause a huge headache.

2. Building a new fence. It seems like a huge expense to build a fence in the exact same location it’s already in, right? The fence should be on the boundary right? Wrong. Fences aren’t always on the boundary, and without getting an Identification Survey, it’s impossible to know for sure.

Fences aren’t cheap if you don’t get an identification survey to build the fence and the neighbour gets one and establishes you have built the fence 2m from the boundary. It’s in yours and your neighbours best interest to get an identification survey prior to building that lovely new fence, so you can both enjoy the full extents of your property.

3. Building a Retaining Wall Like fences, retaining walls are expensive to build, and a lot more expensive than fences. Retaining walls are built to remove the natural slope of the land, and retain the earth to allow for the flat surfaces we all love to build on and play on.

Your neighbour is not going to like you building your retaining wall in their land, not only is it costly to fix that mistake up, it can escalate into legal action and nobody wants that.

4. Constructing anything on your property that requires council approval. Constructing anything on your property that requires council approval, will inevitably lead to a building certifier or council to sign off on. Which means certain structures need to be built a certain distance away from the boundary. I have worked on a number of projects where the setback requirement is overlooked, and the fence has been used to measure off from. Next thing a brand new carport, granny flat or pool has been built and the owners are holding their breathes to find out if it is clear of the boundary and agree to the approved plans.

Whilst in some instance this can be fixed by a change to the development approval, however, this is not always the case. I’ve seen the change to development condition of the boundary setbacks denied and structures being partially knocked down or a subdivision is now required to fix up the mistake. In some cases, the structure needs to be modified to allow for the conditions to be met. I’ve even dealt with boundary realignments to manage the new structure built over the boundary. Take the time, get advice from a surveying professional, spend the $2,000 - $5,000 to get the boundaries identified and save yourself further costs, which amount to a lot more, let alone the headache you will have by having your dream granny flat in your neighbour's property.

5. Identifying Encroachments. Encroachments are a blog for a whole other day, but in short, they are things that are intruding on your property from the neighbours, or yours to the neighbours or the road. There is no set time to decide to identify encroachments, it is entirely up to you. Though the identification survey will determine your boundaries and identify anything that may be encroaching. It’s actually a legal requirement for surveyors in Queensland to notify all property owners of any encroachments identified whilst completing a boundary survey.

These are the main reasons a person should get an identification survey. Remember your boundaries are what defines your outer limits of your home, where you live and raise your family, or your source of income if you are a developer or operating a business on your property. The last thing you want or need is your house to be partially on another person's property. It’s what you own and you want to make sure what you have is actually yours, it may cost a few thousand to get a surveyor in to check your boundaries, which is very small compared to the hundreds of thousands you will be spending on purchasing that land.

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