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Common Questions About the Work of Land Surveyors

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Please note that the following information is taken from the website of the Ordre des arpenteurs-géomètres du Québec© Copyright.

What’s the importance of a certificate of location?

You are about to make the most important investment of your life: the purchase of a property. To protect this investment, you will need to take a few precautions. You've visited the property, you're satisfied with it and you're ready to conclude the transaction at the notary's office who will draw up the purchase contract. However, some questions come to mind:

 

  • Where are the boundaries of the property I plan to buy?

  • Are the buildings I've been shown really within these limits?


Answering these questions before the contract is signed will first allow the notary to prepare a clearer title deed that accurately describes the property you have seen and secondly, it will make you think about the value of your future investment: would you still be interested in signing if you learned that the garage is partially built on the neighbouring property?

What will the surveyor do to answer these questions?

The land surveyor will prepare a certificate of location. The surveyor will study the documents you will have sent him or her for this purpose and will then do any further research he or she deems necessary.


Once on-site, they will gather all the elements that will allow them to establish their opinion, linking them together and taking care of the neighbouring properties. They will carefully locate the constructions of the property concerned: building, swimming pool, fence, hedge, post, garage, shed, etc.


Once the measurements have been completed, the land surveyor will mathematically check the distances and angles, and then check whether the documents agree with the information gathered on the ground.


Finally, they will write their report, accompanied by a plan illustrating the result of their expertise, all of which will lead to the certificate of location.

What should the report contain?

The content of the report that forms part of the certificate of location is governed by regulation. For example, in addition to answering the above questions, it will allow you to determine whether your property:

  • Is affected by real servitudes

  • Is the subject of expropriation notices

  • Is classified as cultural property

  • Is located in an agricultural protection area

What should be in the plan?

The plan is a graphical representation of the site and should contain, where possible, all of the elements mentioned in the report.

 

In addition to graphically specifying some of the details described in the report, the plan allows for the visualization of the characteristics of the lot in terms of its shape, capacity, dimensions and identification. It shows the positions, dimensions and types of constructions existing on the property.

What if the seller already has a certificate of location?

If you believe that, since the date of issuance of this document, changes may have been made to the property (new construction, swimming pool, fencing, changes to certain municipal by-laws, etc.), then it would be wise to have a land surveyor prepare a new certificate of location.

 

IA survey document must reflect the present reality. If it is out of date, it no longer meets your needs and can be a source of confusion and errors.

How much does a certificate of location cost?

The work of a land surveyor varies from one property to another because it depends on the dimensions, the shape of the buildings, access, temperature, the sometimes very laborious research, the complexity of the descriptions, the competent personnel involved and the unavoidable office expenses. All these factors influence the cost of the work and only the land surveyor can accurately assess its value. The amount can vary from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

 

However, the land surveyor is willing to provide you with an estimate before you authorize him or her to begin the work.

 

You should keep in mind that the normal fee for preparing a certificate of location is less than one percent of your total investment and this small expense can help you avoid costly and painful problems in the future.

Upon request and for an additional fee, the land surveyor will stake out the property and lay out regulatory markers (identified with his name) marking each corner point of the property.

Who should pay for the certificate of location, the buyer or the seller?

Curiously enough, it is often the seller who chooses and pays the land surveyor. It is the person who sells his property who deals with a professional and asks him to prepare a document that will be used by the buyer. Unfortunately, in this case, the buyer will have no contractual relationship with the land surveyor. It is, therefore, the seller who will hand over the documents, without the buyer necessarily being able to obtain additional information from the land surveyor. However, who really uses the certificate of location? Isn't it the buyer? It would be to the buyer's advantage to choose and pay the land surveyor himself. In fact, in addition to the documents he will produce, the land surveyor is likely to provide him with judicious advice. Moreover, his knowledge of the property will allow the land surveyor to better serve the new owner (his client) in the future.

I'm selling my house and I need a new certificate of location. How much does it cost and how soon can I get it?

Contact us for a quick response. We need to identify and research your location so that we can give you an accurate time frame and price. This request for information does not commit you to anything.

I want to build a fence, but I don't know where my property lines are.

Staking consists of planting survey markers made of 60-centimetre-long metal rods topped with a plastic medallion on which the name of the surveyor is inscribed, among other things. Staking outlines the property limits that appear on the certificate of location.

I bought a piece of land and I want to build soon. What are the necessary steps and documents?

Assuming that your land is clearly identified in the land register and that the plans of the house are completed, you will need:

  • Site plan: This plan shows the position of the projected building and the cadastral and land details affecting the property. This document is required when applying for a building permit.

  • Building layout: this work consists of planting markers on the ground to locate the projected building as shown on the layout plan. These markers are usually used for digging and locating the foundations.

  • Certificate of location: this document can be completed when the foundations are in place or later. The municipality and the mortgagee will require this certificate.

  • Staking: this work is optional, but it allows you to know exactly where the property limits are. This will prove useful when the time comes to build a fence or plant a hedge.

I have a building I want to turn into a condo. What are the steps to take?

You must first make sure that you comply with the Régie du Logement's requests. You will also have to mandate a notary who will advise you in these steps and who will draw up the declaration of co-ownership. The land surveyor's job is to identify the common and private areas on the cadastre. A subdivision permit must be issued by the municipality and, if applicable, the consent of the mortgagee or the beneficiary of the family residence is required under article 3044 of the Civil Code of Quebec.

I have a problem with my neighbour because we disagree on the position of the property line. What can I do about it?

Assuming that there is indeed a problem or uncertainty about the position of the property line, demarcation is the appropriate procedure to resolve the problem. Unlike staking, boundary marking is governed by several articles of the Civil Code of Quebec, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Quebec Land Surveyors Act. Both parties in disagreement participate in the demarcation process.

Cadastre reform

The Quebec cadastre represents your property on a plan and identifies it by a lot number. This plan shows the measurements, area, shape and position of your property in relation to neighbouring properties. The cadastre, which has existed since 1860, is incomplete and contains inaccuracies. The Ministère de l'Énergie et des Ressources naturelles du Québec has, therefore, created a new cadastre plan, where each of the properties will be correctly represented. Some of this work has been entrusted to Courchesne-Fortin A.-G. Inc. The owners have nothing to pay for the cadastre reform work. During this reform, 750,000 lots that contain inaccuracies will be corrected and 850,000 properties not identified in the cadastre will be integrated into it. Once renovated, the new cadastre will be complete, reliable, computerized and constantly updated.

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