Protecting Your Home and Property

Every Manitoba Land Surveyor has an obligation to protect the public against fraud and incompetence with respect to the surveying of land.

Every time a Manitoba Land Surveyor surveys a property boundary, they must perform with not just their client’s interests in mind, but also with that of the public. Every boundary is common to that of someone else.As the professional, self-governing body, operating under provincial statute in Manitoba, the Association of Manitoba Land Surveyors maintains the standards of integrity and technical knowledge by establishing entrance requirements, arranging for continuing education of our members, maintaining professional standards, arbitrating complaints from the public and disciplining members when necessary.

Only a Manitoba Land Surveyor has the legal authority and expertise to properly define the legal boundaries of a parcel of land either on the ground or on paper. A person who is not a member of this Association, is not allowed, by law, to survey property boundaries in Manitoba.

You are guaranteed the high standards of professional integrity and technical knowledge set by the Association when you obtain the services provided by a Manitoba Land Surveyor.

Buying your property

In Manitoba, property purchasers have two choices to fulfill the basic requirements: purchase title insurance or get a current Building Location Certificate (BLC).

If you are considering purchasing property, it is important that you understand the differences.

You may be told that you should avoid the cost of a survey and buy title insurance, after all, it’s cheaper and faster.

A few things you need to know about title insurance:

  • It’s a complex legal insurance policy that you should understand clearly. (Read the fine print.)
  • It requires separate policies to protect you (the homeowner) and your lender.
  • It may not, except at added cost, protect anything but the amount of the mortgage (leaving the remaining cost of resolving problems to you).
  • Where the policy is a lender policy, it is only in effect as long as that lender has an interest in your property.
  • It does not give you any information about the location of buildings, improvements, easements, rights of way, covenants and other interests in relation to the property boundaries.

We believe that it is in your best interest to know, before you finalize your purchase, where your property begins and ends, whether it is being encroached upon, and whether the buildings you are buying are encroaching on your future neighbours.

In the context of purchasing your home (average Winnipeg price is around $300,000.) the difference between the cost of title insurance and the cost of a survey is typically from $100 to $300.

BUILDING LOCATION CERTIFICATES (BLC’S)

A few things you need to know about Building Location Certificates:

Except for the Certificate of Title or Deed, the Building Location Certificate is the most important document to guarantee the ownership of your property. It protects you, as a purchaser, by warning you of any restrictions in the physical extent of the property and it gives you the peace of mind that your purchase is free from the risk of encroaching, or being encroached upon.

Securing a Mortgage – Most financial institutions will not issue a mortgage before obtaining a BLC on the property.
It provides them with information regarding the size of the property and buildings, and shows what problems with respect to encroachments would be encountered in the event of foreclosure.

Zoning Memorandum – Most jurisdictions have certain restrictions as to the location of buildings within a property.
The BLC allows the authority to determine if the property complies with the applicable zoning. For example, it may be discovered that an addition on the side of a house is too close to the property line and must be removed.

Correct Address Identification – The ownership of property is based on the legal description recited in the Certificate of Title or Deed; there is no reference to a civic address (house number). The Manitoba Land Surveyor assures that the civic address of the property you are purchasing agrees with the legal description.

Building Encroachments – An encroachment from an adjoining property may restrict the full use and enjoyment of your property. If the encroachment is from your property onto adjacent lands, you may be faced with the effort and expense of removing it. Realizing this at the outset may influence your decision to purchase or at least eliminate any surprises later.

Easements – Some properties are affected by easements which can restrict the use of the property. A neighbour may have a right-of-way over part of your property or an easement for underground services may exist which curtails your plans to build a garage.

A Manitoba Land Surveyor can guarantee that you receive the land you are contracted to pay for.

The Association of Manitoba Land Surveyors encourages you to use a traditional system of “full disclosure”, through a proper title review and a surveyed building location before committing to an investment in real estate.

The current owner has a BLC, do you still need one?

An old BLC should not be used in real estate transactions.
It can not warn you of recent changes to buildings or easements. More importantly, and usually less obvious, encroachments from adjacent lands may now exist or lands may have been taken for street widening.

A BLC handed down from a previous owner or obtained from another source may have been “doctored” to seemingly comply with zoning restrictions or to remove an encroachment where one in fact exists. Obtaining a new or updated Certificate from a Manitoba Land Surveyor will assure you of an accurate document.

Manitoba Land Surveyors personally guarantee their work. Under no circumstances should a BLC be used which was prepared by a land surveyor who has since deceased. Any claims for damages as a result or an error on the Certificate may not be recoverable.

BUILDING OR IMPROVING YOUR HOME

Know your property limits before commencing any construction. The time and expense of removing an encroachment (e.g. road, fence or building) will undoubtedly exceed the cost of a survey. The land surveyor will stake your property limits or provide a building location certificate. They can also advise on how the existing features will relate to the proposed plans and what restrictions may influence your development. This information is often illustrated in a site plan prepared by the land surveyor.

Building a House or Other Structure

Before undertaking any construction project, it is prudent to know the exact location and extent of your property. The survey monuments will assist you to establish the required front and side yard setbacks to comply with zoning regulations and avoid any encroachment situations.

BLC Should Not Be Used to Determine Property Limits

When a new house is being erected, the BLC is often prepared before the siding materials are applied. Depending on the thickness of the materials, the dimensions shown on the Certificate can vary several centimetres (or tenths of a foot).

Even when a BLC is prepared on a finished house, the surveyor usually rounds off the dimensions to the nearest centimetres (or 0.05’). This can easily result in a difference of 2 to 3 cm (or 0.10’ to 0.15’) between the side yard dimensions at the front and back of the house. Extending this line to the front or back corner of the property in an attempt to establish the true corner can result in large discrepancies.

Building a Fence

You are entitled to enjoy the full extent of your property. When building a fence, you may build up to, but not over the property limit. Having your property staked by a Manitoba Land surveyor will give you the security of knowing your fence is in the right place.

SUBDIVIDING YOUR PROPERTY

The land surveyor is knowledgeable in the fundamentals of subdivision planning, can advise on foreseeable problems and can guide you through all the steps to the registration of the final plan of subdivision. They will ensure that you sell only the property intended to be sold by defining the property on the ground and preparing the proper legal descriptions. Having an up-to-date survey will make your property more marketable to perspective purchasers.