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Should I have my house surveyed?

in Conveyancing & Property Law by Paul Brown on

With all the costs that are associated with buying or selling, having a house surveyed is often something that is skipped or overlooked. So what is involved and is it worth the extra effort?

When you’re talking about buying and selling property, getting a survey done will usually mean having a professional surveyor conduct an examination of land boundaries. This helps to ensure that the physical location accords with the plan registered with the land titles office.

Surveys can help you to be sure that the property you are buying has the proper boundaries and that there are no structures such as fences or buildings which encroach (cross the boundary) from or upon your land. Even where there are no fences it can help you to confirm that the size of the land is what you expected. You can always consult with your surveyor to determine the specific services you would like them to provide.

Although the cost of a survey can be significant, it can be far more costly to resolve boundary disputes once you've become the owner of the property. For example, where a building crosses a boundary, resolutions might include demolishing and rebuilding the structure in the correct location, or paying to purchase the additional land from the neighbouring owner and having new property boundaries registered with the titles office.

It is not just buyers who might benefit from a survey either. Sellers might find themselves with compensation claims of the physical boundaries of the property differ from the registered boundaries.

There are also other investigations into the property which may be called surveys such as geotechnical or soil surveys – often known as soil tests. These tests can help you assess the properties of the soil for construction and engineering purposes. Poor soils can lead to very large additional construction costs, so it pays to make contracts for vacant land subject to such investigations and to obtain the advice of the relevant professionals on what the results may mean for your use of the property.

Other types of surveys exist, but the two mentioned above would be the most encountered in residential property. It’s also important not to forget other important property investigations such as building and pest inspections.