What Is a Property Survey?

Unless you work in the construction or real estate industry, it’s probably not a term you’ve had to use very often.

However, when it comes to buying or selling a home, a property survey can be a crucial step in the process. But what exactly is it? Is it really necessary, or can you do without it? And what does it involve?

In this article, we’ll answer those questions and take a look at what property surveys are. Let’s get started.


What Is a Property Survey?

A property survey is a way of determining where property boundary lines are located. That might seem fairly obvious, but it’s common that properties don’t actually line up with their original legal boundaries.

A property survey will provide you with a birds-eye-view sketch of your property with the boundary lines clearly marked. These sketches can also be more detailed.

Why are property surveys important? They allow you to confirm that your boundaries line up with the legal ones and identify any potential disputes or future legal issues. 

This gives you peace of mind — if you’re selling your home it can help you prove to potential buyers that everything is in order, and if you’re buying a home it can help you avoid any unpleasant surprises.

So, do you need a property survey?


Why You Might Need a Property Survey

The good news is that you usually don’t need a property survey, especially if your lot is already well-defined. However, it can still be a good idea even if there are no obvious problems, as a survey can discover issues that you weren’t previously aware of.

Here are some of the reasons to consider a property survey.


If You Intend to Build on the Site

In this case, a survey can help clear up any potential disputes in advance. This is because your construction may end up encroaching on your neighbour’s boundaries — in which case they will be able to take legal action against you. You might need to pay a hefty sum to rectify the boundaries or abandon your project altogether.


If You Want to Sell Your Home

Another big reason to consider a property survey is when you’re planning to sell your home. In this case, a new buyer might request their own survey and find potentially negative information, leaving you to deal with an unexpected new issue and possibly losing out on a sale. 

It’s smarter to pre-empt this by getting your own survey done and finding out about any potential problems in advance.


When There’s a Risk of Hazard

Is your home located in an area at risk of natural disasters or other hazards, such as sinkholes and floods? 

Certain areas of Australia have a higher risk of this than others, and a detailed property survey can help identify these potential hazards, allowing you to take the necessary steps to prepare and inform future buyers.


If You Want to Make a Property Addition

Ever wanted to build a summer house in the back garden? Or maybe add an annexe to the house for guests? Maybe it’s something as simple as a new patio. There are lots of reasons why you might want to make additions to a property, but it’s important to prepare.

A property survey can reveal whether your planned construction will encroach on property boundaries or interfere with utilities, avoiding stressful legal issues and giving you peace of mind.


Can You Do Your Own Property Survey?

A property survey is a fairly complex task and requires trained professionals to do it properly. They’ll use a variety of specialist tools and their own knowledge to conduct a reliable survey that will hold up legally. Typically, it will cost somewhere between A$500 and A$1,000 (it varies by region) and could save you much more than that in the long run. 


What Tools Are Used in Property Surveys?

Here are some of the main tools used by property surveyors:

  • Theodolite — an instrument used for measuring angles between visible points, both horizontally and vertically
  • Total station — this combines the theodolite with a transit level and electronic distance metre to accurately measure angles and distances to prepare maps
  • 3D laser — this allows surveyors to collect 3-dimensional data by shining laser lines across surfaces  
  • GPS — the Global Positioning System is used to determine the precise location of objects along with distance and height measurements, using satellite information
  • Transit level — this is a slightly less accurate version of the theodolite, used to measure horizontal and vertical angles  
  • Grade rod — used to measure differences in elevation


Property surveys can be crucial if you’re to gather as much information as possible about your property and avoid any surprises or setbacks when selling or renovating. Although they may seem like an avoidable expense, the cost of failing to be informed about your property is potentially much higher.

If you’re planning to buy or sell your property, Lynam Home Loans can help. We have many years of experience helping our customers get the best deals possible and find the right mortgage for them. To find out how we can help, get in touch with us.

Barry Lynam Mortgage Broker

Barry Lynam