By Martin Coetsee
Martin CoetseeA sectional title development involves a number of professionals. Most of these professionals claim to be of utmost importance to the development, and arguably they are. However, experienced developers might suggest that having a suitably registered land surveyor on board from the very beginning saves time and money. After all, it is the land surveyor who is not only the first on site, but also the last!
From a developer’s perspective, the main objective is often to get the sectional title register open in order for transfers to take place. Although this is not incorrect or even unethical, one should consider that a sectional title scheme has a long life and it is to be managed in terms of the Sectional Titles Act. Poor decisions during the development phase tend to outlive most developers.
The following can be useful suggestions to keep in mind for both existing buildings that are to be “converted” into a sectional title scheme and new buildings that are to be erected for that purpose:1. Get the property beacons identified or re-located first. That way, any nasty surprises like encroachments of buildings onto neighbouring properties or vice versa can be identified and avoided.

2. Scrutinise the title deed to identify any restrictive conditions that will have an influence on the proposed development. In older townships, some title deeds contain specific conditions of a “town planning scheme” nature, building-line restrictions and servitude information and restrictions. As the title deed conditions overrule any other conditions prescribed by an operating town planning scheme or re-zoning procedure, it will be wise to identify such restrictive conditions as soon as possible, as it can be a long process to get such conditions cancelled by the provincial authority.

3. In the case of buildings to be erected, a proper “base plan” is required that indicates:

a) The contours at intervals between 0,50 and 0,25 metres, depending on the slope of the terrain. Where the property has a steep slope, land surveyors are suitably equipped to assist in the design levels for buildings  and engineering services in order to minimise “cut and fill” volumes. Unnecessary earthwork can be avoided, saving money and time. For the positioning of the buildings, exclusive use areas and services, the land surveyor can give useful inputs and provide guidance in order to ensure that there are no encroachments and that the common property and exclusive use areas of the scheme is well defined.b) The position of existing roads and services (water, sewer, electrical, telephone, storm water, etc.) where the new development will connect onto. It is not uncommon to find that the available “as built” plans that are provided are actually “as planned”, and not “as built”.
4. For existing buildings, let the land surveyor explain what certificates are required – especially if the sectional title scheme is for residential purposes. There are strict guidelines in the Act that have to be adhered to.5. In all cases, let the land surveyor inspect the zoning certificate, together with the approved site development and building plans for any contradictions, which must be brought to the attention of the developer for rectification, sooner rather than later. For existing buildings, it is sometimes troublesome to lay hands on a set of approved building plans (especially with smaller local authorities). If no such plans exist, it is the developer’s responsibility to get “as built” plans drawn up and approved, before the land surveyor can issue the so called section 7(2) certificate, whereby it is, among others, certified that the buildings on the ground correspond with the site development and building plans as approved by the local authority.

6. Where new buildings are erected, it is a good idea that the contractor and land surveyor coordinate their efforts in order that the middle of walls can be measured (fixed) during construction. (Middle of walls generally defines the boundaries of sections). This will save some time and simplify the calculation of areas of sections as well as the compilation of the survey records that are to be lodged with the Surveyor-General.

Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 6, Issue 9, Page 3

Martin Coetsee is a professional land surveyor – Coetsee Nel incorporated

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license