Finding the right surveyor to do most specialist surveying tasks can be difficult. There is no surveying equivalent to the NHS referral system operated by general practitioners, alias family doctors. So you may feel confused as you are left alone to identify the right kind of surveyor for the task that you require to be done.
For a start, there are twenty different designations that chartered surveyors may use, not including "chartered surveyor" itself, ranging from "Chartered Arts & Antiques Surveyors" to "Chartered Valuations Surveyors & Estate Agents". But amongst this list you will not find a chartered boundary surveyor. This is where it gets confusing.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) allows its members to offer services in any specialist field in which they believe themselves to be competent. One specialist field is Boundary Demarcation and Disputes. But before you charge off and find the nearest chartered surveyor offering services in Boundary Demarcation and Disputes you need to be aware of a few things.
Firstly, there are seven routes for becoming qualified as a chartered surveyor, and there is no common core subject area that all seven qualification routes are obliged to teach. So if someone who calls himself either a "general practice" surveyor or a Chartered Valuation Surveyor tells you he has been trained in land surveying then you need to ask him some searching questions about that land surveying training. His qualifying course may have included one week of measuring with a tape measure, but such brief land surveying training bears no comparison with the training given to a Chartered Land Surveyor who spends more than a year on an MSc level course.
Then again, not all land surveying courses include a module on land law. So not all Chartered Land Surveyors are suited to Boundary Demarcation and Disputes. And just because someone is a Chartered Valuation Surveyor, it doesn't automatically mean that he is inappropriate to Boundary Demarcation and Disputes. I have come across more than one Chartered Valuation Surveyor who is good at boundary disputes, even though he may have to sub-contract the land surveying portions of the work to another company.
Many Chartered Building Surveyors offer Party Wall Advice. Party walls, by definition, stand upon boundaries. So some Chartered Building Surveyors develop an understanding of boundary demarcation and disputes. But be careful: party walls advice is all about building structures and may have a lot to do with preventing or resolving disputes between neighbours, but it has little or nothing to do with boundary demarcation. So if you use a Chartered Building Surveyor for a boundary dispute then do make sure that he has the additional skills needed for boundary demarcation that are not normally exhibited by someone advising on party walls.
Chartered Surveyors who operate in "rural practice" are often very good all rounders, and a number of these may have sufficient skills for boundary demarcation and disputes, even if they have to subcontract the land surveying aspects.
Guidance on locating a suitable surveyor is given at the foot of this page. Before proceeding to that, you first need to understand and identify the needs that your chosen surveyor is going to have to address.
There is a range of key surveying skills that are relevant to boundary disputes, but the range of skills required to accomplish a task varies with the nature of the task.
For example, if the task is essentially a mapping task, such as:
- creating a transfer plan because you want to sell half of your rear garden;
- making a plan to record a boundary agreement or a determined boundary that has been amicably agreed between you and your neighbour;
then you will need a land surveyor who has knowledge of Land Registry's requirements for these kinds of plan.
For example, if you want only advice on where your boundaries are then you will need a surveyor, not necessarily a land surveyor, who
- understands that Land Registry title plans show only the general position and not the exact position of the boundaries;
- understands map accuracies and understands that it is unwise to try to scale distances to a precision of 0.5m or less from an Ordnance Survey map;
- has an ability and willingness to check the accuracy of OS maps, transfer plans and conveyance plans, even if with only a tape measure;
- can interpret maps correctly;
- has some understanding of land law:
but be warned that many surveyors, even land surveyors, can be found wanting on several of the skills in the above list. So make sure that your surveyor is a specialist in boundary demarcation and disputes. Then ask him what percentage of his workload is taken up with boundary demarcation and disputes, and if the answer is less than 25% then he probably has insufficient experience.
For example, if you need a thorough investigation of a disputed boundary and an expert report that can be used in a court case then you will need a chartered land surveyor specialising in boundary demarcation and disputes who has all of the skills in the above list and can also offer:
- land measurement and map drawing,
- the ability to overlay old plans with accurate survey,
- the ability to reconcile conveyance dimensions with accurate survey,
- a knowledge of historical land surveying technology, methods and accuracy,
- air photo interpretation,
and can offer these investigative skills:
- observation skills and an eye for fine detail,
- open mindedness,
- deductive reasoning,
- an ability to derive significance from placing events in chronological order,
- an ability to corroborate or eliminate claimed "facts" by collating and comparing different pieces of evidence.
In order to put his arguments convincingly in an expert report the surveyor must have good presentation skills both with the written word and with the ability to produce clear, uncluttered drawings.
Should your case go to court then your surveyor will need good oral presentation skills and the ability to think on his feet in order to give oral evidence in the witness box.
Before asking a surveyor to write an expert report, you should be aware that the Civil Procedure Rules, Part 35 (governing the work of expert witnesses) requires that an expert witness' duty to assist the court on matters within his expertise overrides any obligation to the person from whom he has received instructions or by whom he is paid. So be warned that it is not the expert's job to make a better case for you than the evidence supports, and a good expert will be prepared to tell you when the evidence is running against you.
It should go without saying that getting the best boundary demarcation and disputes expert is much more important than getting the most local one. You will undoubtedly save a few hundred pounds by using a more local expert. But if your local expert is not much good at analysing the evidence, writing a convincing report, and explaining himself in the witness box, then you must consider whether those few hundred pounds saved are worth the increased risk that you might lose the case and be ordered to pay your neighbour's costs.
|1. If you need advice about a boundary or a
right of way then you should get in touch with the author of this web site at
Jon Maynard Boundaries Ltd
|2. If you know that you need a
chartered surveyor but don't know which kind of surveyor you need, then telephone
the RICS Helpline on 0870 333 1600 to outline
your problem and they will put you in touch with someone who can help.
|3. If you want to search online for a chartered surveyor then the place to look is the online directory of chartered surveyors at www.ricsfirms.com.|
|The example at left features a "Quick search" nationwide on ricsfirms.com for
a specialist in Boundary demarcation and Disputes.
The "Country" and "Location" fields of the search form are pre-set.
All you have to do is to select as "Firm Type" the "Boundaries" option from the pull down list
before clicking on the "Search" button. This returned (on 10 Jan 2011) a list of 144 firms.
|Above is what you see at the top of the RETURNS page. It gives you an opportunity to reduce the national list of firms offering services in 'Boundary Demarcation and Disputes' by clicking on the Refine your search link.|
|The Advanced search panel (example at left) gives you the opportuntiy to
whittle down the list by specifying some 'Advanced Criteria'.
To specify that you are interested only in land surveyors you must set the "Type of Surveyor" field to "Chartered Land Surveyors".
Now click on the "Search" button to reduce the list to 29 chartered land surveyors nationally (as at 10 Jan 2011).
4. It is, of course, a wise precaution not to instruct the first expert witness you locate. So, if you have identified a number of candidates, how do you choose between them?
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