Identification surveys are often required when purchasing a house or when applying to Council for permission for certain building works. They show the house and other features in relation to the land boundaries.
An identification survey is recommended when purchasing a property for several reasons. Although it may seem basic, one of the primary functions of an identification survey is to identify the land described in the contract for the sale of land. There have been many cases where contracts have been prepared in relation to the incorrect folio identifier, which is detected where an identification survey is prepared.
When making a purchase of a property, it is common practice to obtain a current building certificate from the local council. A building certificate is a certificate issued by the local council which prevents Council from making an order which may require the building on the land to be repaired, demolished, altered, added to or rebuilt. In addition, once a building certificate is issued, Council cannot take proceedings when buildings upon the subject land encroach upon land controlled by Council – such as roads, parks and other public land. A building certificate issued on a property is valid for a period of seven years. In order to apply for a building certificate, a current identification survey report is required.
Another purpose of an identification survey is to show where improvements such as buildings and fences are located in relation to the boundaries of the land. It is common for buildings or fences to encroach either on to neighbouring land, or encroach from neighbouring land upon the subject land. Where encroachments are found by buildings, further action may be required. Displacement of fences, while common, can often lead to fights between neighbours, an uncomfortable situation at best.
An identification survey will specify whether the subject land is burdened or benefited by easements (for example, easement to drain water), restrictions on the use of land or covenants. The survey report prepared with the identification survey will often comment on compliance with the terms of easements, restrictions on the use of land or covenants.
When purchasing property, the principle of “Caveat Emptor” (Let the buyer beware) applies to all land transactions. In recent years the use of “title insurance” or “property risk insurance” has increased, adopted by conveyancers and purchasers as a cheap and quick apparent alternative to an identification survey. Unfortunately, the use of title insurance or property risk insurance without an identification survey report and building certificate application blatantly ignores “Caveat Emptor”, leaving purchasers vulnerable to potential problems.
Claims on title insurance policies often occur after the local council are notified of, or discover by other means, non-compliant structures on a property. Council may issue orders of demolition, rectification, addition or alteration. Often, an identification survey report will be required in order for council to issue a current building certificate after such a claim. Title insurance should be used in conjunction with a building certificate and identification survey report.
Doherty Smith & Associates offer excellent turn-around times on identification surveys for a competitive fee. Our comprehensive quality assurance system ensures an identification survey report will be accurate and detect any problems before they become an issue to a new purchaser.