Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Boundary or perimeter surveys define the perimeter or whole property (rather than say a subdivision which might subdivide out one or two house plots from a 5 or 10 acre property).
Boundary marks often get knocked out for a variety of reasons or go missing. People often forget where they are located over time or they simply can't find them in the bush that grows rapidly after a bit of rain..
A topographic survey is conducted to accurately model the existing features on the ground in three dimensions (horizontally using x,y coordinates and vertically using z coordinates to create contours) to create a 3D model of your property.
A subdivision simply divides up a property into smaller lots. There are many reasons why someone would want to subdivide a property but the most common reason ...
As Built surveys are normally preformed when a person is in the process of buying a house and applying for a mortgage from a financial institution.
Setting out or engineering surveys involves marking out the locations of building corners on the ground for excavation and or construction and providing levels or elevations.
A strata (or condominium) survey is a horizontal subdivision of a multi level building that is needed for registration purposes and conveyance.
Boundary or perimeter surveys define the perimeter or whole property (rather than say a subdivision which might subdivide out one or two house plots from a 5 or 10 acre property). This clearly involves surveying the entire perimeter of the property to determine its exact geometry and acreage and takes into account where the legal access to the property is from and any easements that might be registered over the property benefitting an adjoining property.
The boundaries of the properties in the BVI are either defined by a registered survey plan or by the Cadastral Registration exercise of the 1970's. For those properties defined by a registered survey plan, the plan is the legal description of the boundaries. Whereas for those properties that are still defined by the Cadastral Registration their boundaries are defined by the Data Sheets and Index Sheets held by the Survey Department. A very small number of property boundaries are 'undemarcated' and these property boundaries must be determined by the Chief Registrar of Lands.
A perimeter or boundary survey is normally carried out on a property that is still defined as per the Cadastral Registration to create a survey plan that then defines the boundaries. This is beneficial because it a)determines your boundaries more accurately, b)determines the acreage accurately, c)boundary marks are placed at all turning points on the property and d)a legal survey plan is drawing and authenticated by the Chief Surveyor that when registered at the Land Registry then defines your property.
Boundary marks often get knocked out for a variety of reasons or go missing. People often forget where they are located over time or they simply can't find them in the bush that grows rapidly after a bit of rain. Sometimes they think a mark has been moved or they want clarification that the mark is in the right place. In these cases, the proprietor does not necessarily need a complete boundary survey conducted and a survey plan drawing and registered if there is an existing survey plan defining the boundaries, they simply need the marks finding and replacing.
The normal process of replacing boundary marks would not be to simply replace the missing marks but to also check the other marks on the property because this will help verify the locations of the missing marks with respect to the registered plan. Therefore it's not quite as simple as just replacing one or two marks. In all cases a surveyor should find as many of the other marks as possible first before replacing any missing marks. This is the only way to be absolutely certain of their position.
Boundary verification/replacement can take a considerable amount of fieldwork to stake out and locate original marks before being able to replace your missing marks. The more original marks found the better it is to be able to replace your marks with absolute certainty.
One point of note regarding boundary marks. The Land Surveyors Ordinance puts the responsibility of securing boundary marks (once they have been placed in the ground by the surveyor) on the individual property owner. It is a good idea to concrete your marks to make them more permanent, or put a 3 or 4 foot length of PVC pipe over them so they are easily visible and easy to find when the bush gets thick.
A topographic survey is conducted to accurately model the existing features on the ground in three dimensions (horizontally using x,y coordinates and vertically using z coordinates to create contours) to create a 3D model of your property. This type of survey will show the features on the ground in relation to the boundaries of the property and the heights of the property using contours. This gives the slope or gradient of your property which is a crucial factor when designing the size, orientation and location of your house.
A topo survey is extremely important when designing your dream house or any building project. By taking the time to have a topo survey conducted you will know if there are any large boulders on the property, where the best place is to get access onto the property and cut your driveway, where the water drainage runs , where the large trees are and what your best views of the islands are. All of this information can be obtained through a topo survey and it will help your architect to determine the best location of your buildings, their orientations (to maximize your view), gradients and how to best access your property. Additionally, a topo will help determine the support needed for your buildings such as retaining walls, column widths and foundation sizes. The islands are very hilly and a determination of the size and amount of foundation that needs to be built depends on the gradient of the property on which you are building.
A topo survey is the starting point for any construction project and will give you and your architect a platform to start designing and creating your dream home. Without a topo survey, you may start excavation and find a large boulder right where your master bedroom is supposed to be, or worse, all the rain water run-off might be running right through your living room! In the first example there are several large rock features on the site as well as a large ghut and water run-off channels from the road leading down to the ghut and some big trees that are an asset to the property. In the second example there are some massive boulders on the property which have been modeled to show how their shapes change vertically so as to maximize the views from the buildings. All of this information is crucial to your architect and will allow him to design the best possible house for the site.
A subdivision simply divides up a property into smaller lots. There are many reasons why someone would want to subdivide a property but the most common reason is for selling the lots or to distribute the land to their family. Sometimes the whole property is subdivided or often only one or two lots are taken out of a parcel.
There are many factors to consider when thinking about a subdivision such as the number and size of the lot or lots that you want to take out, the gradient of the parcels and how to provide access to all of the individual lots. Every subdivision must first be approved by the Town and Country Planning Department and they have guidelines on the sizes of lots that they will approve. A good guideline is no less than 0.25 acre lots on flat land, 0.33 acre lots on gently sloping land and 0.40 acre or larger(preferably larger because of access issues) on steeply sloping land.
There is a process that must be followed in order to do any subdivision and unfortunately it is not a quick and simple process. The steps that must be taken are as follows.
It's a bit or a long winded process and a general guideline is anywhere from 2-4 months for smaller subdivisions. The larger the subdivision the longer it takes and they often require additional information before the LDCA will approve the application such as a HVA (Hazard Vulnerability Assessment) and/or an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment).
If you are thinking of doing a subdivision, it is essential to have a good design that takes into account all the important factors and particularly the access to the lots and the gradients. The main objective and aim is to maximize the use of the whole property and make the individual lots as re-sellable and as valuable as possible.
As Built Surveys
As Built surveys are normally preformed when a person is in the process of buying a house and applying for a mortgage from a financial institution. The bank will normally request an 'As Built' survey before they approve the loan to ensure that the property is free from any encroachments or boundary issues. Clearly the bank does not want to sanction a loan on a property which has encroachment issues and could therefore end up in all kinds of legal complications.
This type of survey will show all the structural features on the property in relation to the boundaries. Features that need to be shown include all buildings, driveways, retaining walls, footpaths, septic tanks and any overhanging structures such as roof outlines or decks and porches if they are in close proximity to the boundary line. Additionally, it is important to verify the legal access onto the property or any easements that the property must provide. Encroachments s is one issue that the bank is interested in determining but equally important is the issue of legal access.
The final product of an 'As Built' survey is a drawing and a report. The drawing shows all the features on the property in relation to the boundaries and the report gives detailed information about the ownership, size of the property, easements and obviously if there are any encroachments or if the property is considered safe for legal transactions.
If a person is not applying for a mortgage through a financial institution and is funding the purchase of the property privately then an 'As Built' survey would not be required and the purchaser would assume the risk if they did not have a surveyor verify the boundaries for them. Therefore it is strongly recommended that the purchaser still have a surveyor check and verify the boundaries before they complete the purchase otherwise there is no guarantee that the property is completely free from any encroachments.
Setting out or engineering survey
Setting out or engineering surveys involves marking out the locations of building corners on the ground for excavation and or construction and providing levels or elevations. Once an architect has designed your house your contractor needs to know where it fits or is located on the property. A land surveyor will take the architectural drawings and then place the building points on the ground as designed by your architect so your contractor can start excavating or construction your building. This ensures your buildings are placed exactly where your architect intended them to be on the property.
A word of warning though, about setting out as this scenario has happened too many times in the BVI. There is no law requiring that a land surveyor sets out your buildings when you start construction and often the contactor will set the building out rather than hiring a surveyor. Bear in mind that contractors are not land surveyors and the only reference they have to position the buildings on the property is from a boundary mark. Unfortunately, because they are not surveyors they sometimes make mistakes with regards to marks on the ground that they assume to be a boundary mark. If they use an incorrect mark, your buildings might not be located on the property exactly where your architect intended them to be (which could cost you more money in terms of retaining walls and drainage issues) and more seriously, they may be constructed over the boundary line. It is worth the effort to have a licensed surveyor set your buildings out for the contractor which will give you peace of mind that your buildings are being built in the right place!
A strata (or condominium) survey is a horizontal subdivision of a multi level building that is needed for registration purposes and conveyance. This type of survey shows the horizontal and vertical dimensions of all the rooms on each level of the building and where the boundaries run between adjoining units such as through the centre of adjoining walls.
a) Delineate the boundaries of the parcel that the building is on,
b) Define the boundaries of each strata lot,
c) Indicate the floor area of each strata lot,
d) Indicate the unit entitlement of each strata lot
When a strata survey is registered it must have a 'Declaration Instrument' that accompanies the survey plan. This instrument (normally drawn up by a legal advisor) shows the interests each person has in the property, indicates the covenants and restrictions on each unit, describes the common area of the property and allows for access of water, sewerage, electricity, garbage, air conditioning and so forth.