Survey Certificates

In the ACT a Survey Certificate may be required as a part of the development application process. The ACT Planning & Land Authority refers to a Detail and Contour Survey as a “Survey Certificate”. A survey certificate will be in the form of a plan of the existing area to be developed showing the boundaries, buildings or structures and contours of the land. The survey information obtained from this will also assist an architect or building designer in the design the proposed development. Additional features can be added to the survey certificate to assist in the design of a development, including tree details, underground services (see Landmark Surveys underground detection), existing window locations, ridge heights and outlines of buildings on adjacent properties. Landmark surveys provide the information in an electronic format to allow an architect to integrate the information into their design software, including 3 dimensional surfaces.


The role of the surveyor with regard to a development of an extension or new residence is as follows.

  • A survey of the existing development area will be completed and a survey certificate provided. The certificate can be used in the development application process. The survey certificate along with an electronic version of the certificate can be passed on to the architect for design purposes.
  • Once the development is approved the building plans are sent to the surveyor. The surveyor liaises with the builder to place marks onsite to allow the development to be built according to the approved plans.
  • When the building reaches dampcourse level the surveyor measures the structure (called an identification or check survey) and provides documentation to the client that the structure is constructed in the position of the approved plans. The identification survey is required by the building certifier to allow the development to proceed.  A copy of the identification survey is sent to the Surveyor-General.

It is essentially the same process for large scale developments such a high-rise apartment block, only there is a requirement for more detail for structures such as underground utility services, road and kerb levels and other site specific detail.