Getting a Land Survey Done

Getting a land survey done is a crucial step in the process of planning and building your own home. For my purposes, I had bought a 2.2 hectare (5 acre) land package that was completely uncleared bush, which had dubious boundary posts and unknown gradients. The original owner of the area had used a surveyor, of sorts, and the story goes that he subdivided the land, marked it out, pushed through a dirt road, and then without submitting the survey to the local council, sold the 50 or so plots cheap to unsuspecting buyers. They must have done the conveyancing as well so the buyers were completely fooled.

When the new land owners went to the council with building plans in hand, the council rightly denied knowledge of the subdivision, and refused all applications. Obviously the electricity utility wasn't interested in supplying power either. That was 15 years ago and the council eventually had the original survey validated and the estate started to take shape: power lines, telephone and eventually a sealed road.

When I started asking residential surveyors about the job one stated stated that the original surveyor had carried out some very ordinary survey work that ultimately lead to his de-registration with the State Board of Surveyors. He said he familiar with the quality of the underlying cadastre (the official register of land mapping, ownership, value and data) of property in my area and expected difficulty in determining boundaries.

What are the uses of land surveys

    Why do you survey land? And what are the uses of land survey?
  • establishing boundaries
  • determining the features of properties
  • determining easements and encroachments
  • developing or building on land
  • plotting building sites
  • satisfying local building codes and regulations.

How much do land surveys cost

My requirements were all of the above so I asked for a quote and the response was:
a) The site is heavily vegetated and poses survey difficulties in access and productivity.

b) Travel is 60kms round trip from base.

c) MGA 56 and AHD appear to be available in the area at reasonable distances from the site.

d) The perimeter distance for traversing and pegging is non-standard – 626m.

e) The area requiring detailing is large and non-standard – 4000m2 + proposed access road and road frontage.

f) Addition plotting is required to locate the proposed building envelopes.

With these in mind, my fee proposal is as follows:

1)  Professional search costs – estimate $60

2)  Travel expenses – 60kms @ 90c + 0.75hrs @ $125 = $147.75

3)  Boundary investigation, calculations and marking Lot corners, data post processing, preparation of sketch plan & report, and electronic transmittal of survey deliverables - $1,000

4)      Establish MGA and AHD control, field data acquisition, data reduction, modelling, CAD transfer, plotting proposed structures, plan preparation, and electronic transmittal of survey deliverables – $950.

I propose a land survey cost of $2,100aud + GST to provide the above.

Note: A recent 'fence corner' only survey of a half acre block in QLD recently (2021) cost $1,400

Getting a land survey done: results

After getting a land survey done I ended up with 5 types of land survey documents. These were high quality PDF files as follows:

  1. The first was a land and property search, from the state catastre.
  2. The second was the original subdivision survey.
  3. The third was a council overhead DP plan of the estate from Cadestral Records.
  4. The fourth was boundary survey showing all corners, bend marks and directional markings of the lot (see pic).
  5. The fifth was a lot plan showing the land contours.

Note of reference: Getting a land survey for the council is fine, but reading a land survey map can be difficult, for instance, the MGA compass directions shown on the boundary survey were not true north directions. As my land was uncleared and I wanted to clear a fence line, those MGA directions were useless to me. Ask your surveyor for normal compass directions from corner posts. 

boundary survey

For an explanation on how to read a survey try this site..

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