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The History of Land Surveying in Australia

Land surveying has a long history in Australia, dating back to the time of English settlement in 1788. At that time, there were no defined boundaries for land and no existing survey marks. Land could only be defined by recognizable natural features, and descriptions were ambiguous. The techniques for measurement were also undeveloped and inaccurate, leading to the development of laws for boundary definition.

Land Titles in New South Wales

The main land titling system in New South Wales is the Torrens Title system. Under this system, every current parcel of land is based on a plan of survey that defines its boundaries. The majority of privately-owned land in the region is held under the Torrens Title system. Any parcels of land under the Old System or Crown Title must be converted to Torrens Title by registering a suitable plan before a Certificate of Title can be issued.

The NSW Land Registry Services (LRS) is responsible for maintaining the register of titles to land (ownership) and the survey plans upon which ownership is based.

What is a Land Survey?

A land survey is a precise measurement of land used to create a detailed map of a parcel of land. This map includes important information that is critical for any proposed design or construction. It is essential to obtain a land survey before starting any property development, as the exact measurements are necessary to comply with local council and LRS requirements. Failure to do so can result in significant costs.

How is Land Surveyed?

Land surveyors use a variety of tools to measure land, including GPS equipment, electronic theodolites, aerial and terrestrial scanners, robotic total stations, electronic handheld distometers, and digital levels. These tools allow surveyors to measure various aspects of the land, including its slope, levels of height, vegetation, total area, bordering perimeter/boundaries, and unique features such as trees and ponds.

 Why Do You Need a Registered Land Surveyor?

According to the law, cadastral (property boundary/title) surveys must be conducted or supervised by a practicing Registered Surveyor. In New South Wales, the legislation governing the registration of surveyors is the Surveying & Spatial Information Act 2002. Surveys performed by unlicensed practitioners do not have any legal standing and can compromise the future development of a property. If you are hiring a surveyor, make sure to confirm that the plan will be produced by a registered and practicing licensed surveyor.

Definition of a Land Survey?

Under the Surveying & Spatial Information Act 2002, a land survey is defined as a survey (other than a mining survey) that is conducted in connection with the reservation or dedication of land for any purpose, the creation, variation, transfer, or extinguishment of any interest in land, the preparation of a plan for lodgment under the Conveyancing Act 1919, the preparation of documents required under the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015, or the identification or marking out of boundaries on a parcel of land. This definition includes any survey (plan or sketch) identifying boundaries.

Who Makes Sure Land Surveyors Follow the Rules?

The NSW Board of Surveying & Spatial Information (BOSSI) is the statutory body responsible for administering the Surveying & Spatial Information Act 2002 and the Surveying and Spatial Information Regulation 2017, ensuring that only appropriately qualified persons undertake land surveys, and providing advice to the Minister on matters related to the integrity of the state cadastre and spatial information.

 How Much Does a Land Survey Cost?

The cost of a land survey can vary depending on several factors, including the size, shape, and nature of the land in question. Some things that can increase the cost of your land survey include:

  • The available old survey information: When determining your title boundaries, it is necessary to review available old survey information in the area. If there is a lack of this information, it can add complexity and time to the survey, resulting in higher costs.
  • The obstacles of the land: Land with thick foliage, a running stream, or hilly or rocky terrain can be more difficult to navigate, which can increase the cost of measurement.
  • The equipment and tools required: The complexity of the survey can also determine the type of equipment and tools required, with more modern and expensive equipment needed for more complicated surveys.
  • The need for accuracy: Land surveys are intended to be precise measurements, and as such, they require a high level of accuracy. This can increase the cost, as it may require multiple measurements or the use of advanced equipment to ensure accuracy.
  • The need for legal standing: Land surveys must often be conducted by registered surveyors and be in accordance with legal requirements in order to have legal standing. This can add to the cost, as registered surveyors typically charge more for their services with the average time to registration at approximately 12 years.
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We provide a collaborative approach to our services

Project Management

Pinnacle Land Surveyors recognise that each project is different. Also, each client is different and has different abilities and experience. Some clients are very experienced in the construction stage and only require help with the consent process while others would like help throughout the project. Whatever your needs, Pinnacle Land Surveyors can tailor their management services to help you as required.

Subdivision Surveys

Pinnacle Land Surveyors can assist with the planning of a new subdivision. Each Council area will have different requirements for subdivision. We are industry experts with contacts in local Councils and a relationship with Private Certifiers across the greater Sydney area. We are able to provide specialist advice to guide you through the often complex process and ensure your proposed subdivision is compliant with relevant provisions.

Works as Executed Surveys

Works as Executed Surveys are used to ensure the completed or as-built works comply with the approved design plans. They compare the position and levels of roads, footpaths, staircases, detention tanks, sewer, stormwater and other infrastructure. Works as Executed Surveys are required by Council before they will issue an Occupation Certificate to the property owners. These surveys can only be prepared by a Registered Surveyor at the completion of the works on site.

Section 88B Instruments

An 88B Instrument is a legal document that accompanies any new plan for registration at NSW Land Registry Services. Pinnacle Land Surveyors have significant experience with drafting Section 88B Instruments to ensure the registration process is expedited and stress-free for our clients. The 88B Instrument sets out any easements, restrictive covenants, positive covenants and rights of way affecting the land, building and/or units within the building and the property to be constructed.

Engineering Design

Pinnacle Land Surveyors are able to provide design assistance on civil engineering projects, environmental engineering projects and structural designs based on current Australian Standards. We have a value engineering approach through to the site: recognising the builder’s construction preferences, supporting the architectural vision and ensuring that structural integrity is maintained.

Town Planning

Pinnacle Land Surveyors have extensive experience in town planning matters and ongoing relationships with trusted specialty consultants. We can assist with Development Applications and Modifications, Statements of Environmental Effects, Lodgment and Management of Applications with Council.

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We provide a collaborative approach to our services

We have extensive experience in all types of work from small, residential surveys to complex, large-scale commercial projects and we specialise in small to medium residential subdivision projects (2 – 650 lots)

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