By Shamim Saad
Derrick Kyambadde of Busabala bought a plot of land in 2005 from his friend. He says after completing his payments, he began constructing a three-bedroom house.
Six months into construction, his neighbour accused him of encroaching his on his plot of land and demanded that he breaks it down his structure.
“I was surprised, but I did not argue with him because I realised that I had not surveyed the land before I started the construction,” he said.
Kyambadde then got a surveyor, who confirmed that he had built part of his house on his neighbour’s land. “I could not break my house, so I paid him. I realised then how important surveying land is.”
Augustine Lwanga, a surveyor, recommends getting a new survey if:
- A survey reflecting the all significant improvements on he property does not exist or cannot be found.
- The property corner markers (usually iron pipes), have gotten lost, buried, or overgrown and there are no natural features (e.g a big tree) from which the boundary can easily be inferred by an observer on the ground.
- There is no clear line of sight between adjacent property corners (e.g., a property boundary runs through dense woods or brush) and there are or will be improvements located near the hidden boundary.
- The surveys exist for portions of the property, but the property as a whole consists of more parcels that are not platted and that are described by metes and bounds, such that without a surveyor's interpretation of the legal descriptions one cannot be certain of whether there might exist a gap or overlap of boundaries.
There is currently pending, or there will likely be in the near future, further development of adjoining parcels, he says, like the owner wanting to make sure the adjacent owners know the locations of the common boundaries so as to avoid encroachment.
Both Lwanga and Lumuli say the cost of surveying land depends on where and who you contact. However, they warn that there are so many quack surveyors and urges property owners to be on the lookout for them.
Why you should survey land
- According to Henry Lumuli of Prime Surveyors on Dewinton Road, surveying a plot helps to verify the legal description used for the property. It describes the property you are buying.
- Determines improvements intended. He says surveying helps you determine whether improvements (buildings, driveways, fences, utility lines) intended to be located on your property, encroach on a neighbour's and viceversa.
- Discovers trails and other evidence. Lumuli says it helps discover trails and other evidence of use by third parties that might suggest that someone has established an implied easement over a portion of the property, or might claim a portion of it by adverse possession.
- Provides evidence needed by insurer. Augustine Lwanga, a land surveyor, says surveying helps provide evidence needed by the title insurer to delete certain standard exceptions to coverage, thereby providing extended cover against off-record title matters (including matters that would be revealed by an accurate survey).
- Mark boundaries on the ground. He adds that surveying helps to mark the boundaries on the ground, so that they are clear to observers standing on or near the property.
- Provides baseline record of the location. “Surveying land provides a baseline record of the location of existing improvements, to inform future decisions of whether a new survey is needed,” says Lwanga.