Claiming property lines vs carrying out a survey before subdividing land

Posted on: 22 January 2020

Many properties across the country are separated by fences, line markings, walls, and other types of boundaries. However, most boundaries are simply "claimed" as being accurate, as opposed to being backed by a reputable survey. You may encounter this when you purchase a new home or a piece of land for development. But proper boundaries are even more critical when subdividing land. Because each new piece will require accurate coordinates, simply claiming these boundaries is a recipe for disaster. An accurate land survey ensures that all boundaries are clearly marked- and this data is admissible in court.   

Properties separated by fences

Fences are a common cause of conflict in residential and commercial land. For example, a landowner may claim that because the fence has been there for many years, it's accurate and they own everything within it. The reality is that fencing means nothing without proper land surveillance data. This is because every survey is backed by a legal description of the property's boundaries. The description also provides further details about your land, including physical features, location, and ownership.

If you're planning to subdivide your property into smaller parcels, make sure that you have a quality survey carried out. The survey should include an Owner's Dedication piece, which is an undersigning that verifies that all owners of the land being subdivided agree to the proposal.

Properties separated by vegetation

For many years, vegetation and other natural markers have been taken as accurate boundary indicators. Many land ownership disputes make reference to a specific line of trees, a stream, or a yard. However, vegetation can't take the place of a proper legal survey.

A survey establishes boundaries according to coordinates and other data that can be etched in legal records. This means that you can subdivide your property according to these lines, without worrying about how the prior vegetation looks like. Trees and plants also grow, die, and are replaced. Relying on such markers often results in inaccurate boundaries that spark conflict among landowners.

Properties separated by walls

Perhaps the most complicated land surveys are those carried out when there's a wall separating neighbouring properties. Walls often feel permanent, and adjusting boundaries relative to a wall can be costly and time-consuming. However, this may be necessary during a land subdivision.

After proper and legal demarcations are identified, a dividing wall that's on someone else's property may need to be brought down or otherwise negotiated between the two owners. A subdivision may allow you to draw adjusted lines that keep the structure intact while expanding or contracting a specific piece. Contact a land surveyor for more information.