We see land development as a special responsibility. At Krcmar, we understand our role in the process, and we appreciate the pressures and restraints placed on developers. There is a balance to be achieved between the advantages the development will bring to the community and the value-added benefits accrued by our client. At the end of the process, all parties envision an enhancement of the property that accomplishes the “highest and best use” of the land. Such a project may begin with an artist’s rendering of a brand-new building on the site, but the first practical step is, most often, the acquisition of survey information.
Surveyors follow rigorous procedures to produce survey returns that our clients may rely on. The following processes outline the generally accepted survey practices that we pursue with passion and diligence at Krcmar.
Land is a unique kind of property that is afforded a special appellation—“real property.” Detailed records relating to land are kept in the Land Registry Office and pertain to parcel location, description and applicable easements and encumbrances. We review all pertinent documents and deposited/registered survey plans relating to subject and adjacent properties. These include title restraints, and interests that abutting properties might have in the subject lands. We understand the language that portrays the “extent of title,” and can piece together the often-puzzling way in which land is described. Spatial thinking is our specialty.
2. Survey Research
With our extensive inventory of legal survey plans, we supplement the information gathered through the registry system with private surveys conducted on the subject and neighbouring lands. Land surveys that were undertaken decades ago can still be relevant, and they often provide the best insight into how the boundaries were originally established. Plans that are more recent will provide the source of survey monuments and provide further evidence of boundary locations.
When developing a site as a subdivision or condominium, the land needs to be registered as a “Land Title Absolute” property in the registry system. The standards of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors and applicable legislation require that the “best evidence” be used in support of this process. Thorough research is vital to the whole process. Not all surveyors rigorously follow the practice of obtaining prior surveys, but, at Krcmar, we believe in leaving no stone unturned in our pursuit of documentary evidence.
3. Field Procedures and Investigation
Of course, at the heart of surveying is the physical measurement taken at the site. Essentially, field surveying can be boiled down to two procedures: we either take an existing concept plan (e.g., for subdivision lots) and lay it out on the surface of the earth, or we collect information about the sizes and locations of features that exist on the ground and take this data back to the office to create a plan. The latter is not like the map-making practices of the original explorers. Instead, all information is recorded digitally and retained as part of our field-data file. In Ontario, it is still mandatory to keep traditional pencil-on-cardboard field notes.
A special type of fieldwork is undertaken for legal surveys. It involves a highly-trained and experienced Senior Field Specialist. Any property could be the subject of a boundary dispute or other adversarial claims, so our field crew follows rigorous investigation procedures. (They are like detectives at the scene of a crime, gathering evidence to be analyzed by the Crown prosecutor.) This is the opportunity to gather any evidence relating to the retracing of the boundary that may be on the site. For instance, if a survey bar was set in the 1930s and our bar detector locates it, we will leave no stone unturned—literally—until we get a survey measurement to the bar. We may also need to take a written statement from a landowner or neighbour with historical knowledge of the evidence relating to a boundary, fence or other long-standing occupation.
4. Assessment of Evidence
Our role as surveyors is to locate and record the best evidence of the original locations of the boundaries between parcels. This includes determining any interests in the land that may be uncovered through documents, statements from local residents, occupational evidence or physical features that can provide a reasonable opinion on the location of the historic boundary. Regardless of which party has retained our professional services, we have an obligation to assess the interests of proprietors of adjoining properties as well as the evidence. This is the role of the Ontario Land Surveyor at Krcmar.
5. Calculations and Drafting
Once the information is collected, survey calculations are performed. This is a means of analyzing the dimensions of the boundaries (traditionally known as “metes and bounds”). Topographic plans show geodetic elevations and detailed property features, and they may also show contours and underground utility information tailored to the needs of the project. For subdivision plans, we will calculate the area, frontages and building envelopes of the designed lots. Volumes of stockpiles and excavations can also be determined.
Survey plans are drawn with the latest version of AutoCAD and specialized surveying CAD add-ons. Plans follow rigorous standards, survey guidelines and checking procedures. Quality control is paramount, especially when dealing with millions of numbers that are relied upon by clients and approving agencies alike.
6. Certification and Reporting
There is an old expression: “be proud enough of your work to sign it.” We take this to heart at Krcmar. We prepare subdivision, reference and condominium plans; real-property reports; and boundary, topographic and other legal plans—and all follow a strict certification process that is in accordance with generally accepted surveying principles. Our plans conform to common law, statutory requirements and the regulations and guidelines of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors. Our surveys are subject to peer review, Land Registry Office scrutiny and, most of all, the excellent service standards that form the basis of our reputation.
When it comes to land development, Krcmar offers flexible services to accommodate our clients’ specific needs. The ultimate goal is to obtain approval of the specific ways landowners want to improve the value of their land. We have the people and the experience to help navigate all the survey-related aspects of the project while working with other professionals to provide the client with peace of mind regarding the successful completion of the endeavour.