Updated August 31, 2022
Ever wonder who those helmeted people are, setting up a tripod on the sidewalk with a strange-looking camera? They are land surveyors. One of the requirements of buying, selling, or building a house is getting a land survey or certificate of localization. But what exactly is this essential document? Why and when do you need to get one, and where do you get it?
Read on to find out about land surveying and land surveyors.
A land survey is a drawing of the boundaries and square footage of a property. It also shows the dimensions and location of any buildings or easements on the property. These boundaries help establish ownership of the property and can be used to settle disputes between property owners.
Land surveying was developed in ancient Egypt to re-establish agricultural boundaries following the annual flooding of the Nile. While the ancient Egyptians used a simple rope-stretcher to measure dimensions, modern-day surveyors use high-tech equipment like GPS and 3D scanners.
In Quebec, the profession of land surveyor is regulated by the Ordre des Arpenteurs-Géomètres du Québec (OAGQ). To operate in the province, a land surveyor must be a member of this association.
Here are some of the main reasons for obtaining a land survey:
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In Quebec, land surveyors are public officers and are the only professionals authorized by the Land Surveyors Act to provide a certificate of localization. They must also be a member in good standing of the aforementioned OAGQ.
A land surveyor is an expert in property boundaries and geomatics. Geomatics is the modern discipline which integrates the tasks of gathering, storing, processing, modeling, analyzing, and delivering spatially referenced or location information.
A land surveyor has many important responsibilities:
The OAGQ recommends a fee of $1,405 for a certificate of localization for an urban detached house (not including applicable taxes). Fees vary depending on the type of property and the region.
Your certificate of localization becomes invalid if you make any changes to your property, such as adding a shed or installing a fence. It can also be invalidated by changes to municipal bylaws or even a change of lot number. If you are not sure about the status of your certificate, consult a notary or a land surveyor.
Yes. A certificate of localization is required for a condo sale or mortgage. There are some differences compared to surveying a house, but a land surveyor will have to visit the premises, nonetheless.
You don’t need a land survey when you buy home insurance. Your home insurance provider really only needs to know the address of your home—your policy will cover the premises at that address. If there are any issues with the measurement of your property lines, it won’t fall under home insurance coverage anyway.
Accordingly, you may wish to have a survey done when you buy a new house (or ask the seller for a survey certificate). Even if you buy title insurance, you may not have coverage for issues arising from incorrect measurement of the property lines.
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