Simply defined a survey consists of a detailed drawing of real estate, showing one or more lots (or part lots) as well as any buildings erected thereon including the dimensions of all such depictions. Surveys also show the location of any buildings, fences, driveways, laneways and other roads. Easements and/or rights-of-way over the surveyed lands in favour of utility providers or other entitled parties are also detailed.Surveys provide invaluable information to real property owners regarding not only one’s own property but also regarding the impact one’s own property has on adjoining property and vice versa. Absent a survey, it would be difficult for example to determine whether encroachments exist between adjoining properties. Moreover, lot sizes would not be easily verifiable nor would set back compliances. It would also be difficult to appreciate when certain structures were erected on a property and correspondingly whether permits were taken out for structural renovations to the property.
Before the advent of Title insurance, surveys were also typically required by mortgage lenders who relied on the information provided by surveys to ensure that the Borrower/Owner held marketable Title beyond simply clear unencumbered Title. Mortgage Lenders will now generally accept affirmative Lender based Title insurance policies in order to insure over any unknown defects which might otherwise adversely impact a Lender’s security.
While owners may similarly insure over unknown defects which might impact Title through the purchase of an owner’s policy of Title insurance, there is really no substitute for an accurate survey. Title insurance tends to provide peace of mind for the home owner whereas a survey can answer so many unanswered questions about a property including, but not limited to, questions concerning whether a particular lot can accommodate a prospective home buyer’s plans as far as extensive renovations go. On this note, any offer for purchase of real property should include a clause requiring of the seller either an updated or existing survey of the property to be provided in advance of closing. Ideally, the offer itself will make the Agreement conditional upon reviewing an existing survey and finding same acceptable to the buyer.