If you’re planning to subdivide residential land in Adelaide or elsewhere in South Australia, you’ll need the help of a surveyor. Although surveyors are crucial in defining property boundaries and facilitating land divisions, conveyancers also play a vital role in the legal aspects of property transactions.

Many people wonder about the different roles these professionals play, specifically, what sets a surveyor apart from a property conveyancer. Surveyors concentrate on land’s geographical and physical details, while conveyancers manage the legalities involved in property ownership and transactions.

Understanding the difference between a surveyor vs conveyancer is crucial to ensure that every legal document and process is correctly managed for your property’s transaction.


Difference Between Conveyancer And Surveyor Explained

What is a surveyor?

A surveyor is someone who creates, maps or plans based upon observing and measuring natural and man-made features of the environment.

The type of surveying you will need for a subdivision or development is cadastral surveying, which deals with land ownership, land measurement and the delineation of boundaries between properties.

In South Australia, only licensed surveyors can define property boundaries, which they do by placing survey marks.

When to engage a property surveyor

Before you engage a surveyor, it’s best to measure out your proposed land division and then run the idea past your council.

Typically, this initial assessment can highlight any major barriers you might face or give you an indication that your proposal is likely to meet requirements.

If the council doesn’t highlight any issues, you are now ready to appoint a surveyor.

Your licensed surveyor will carry out all the surveys needed to mark boundaries and easements, and will also prepare the Development Application form and then lodge it with the Development Assessment Commission (DAC) for approval.

Your surveyor will forward your application to a number of other bodies as well to ensure all relevant authorities have been consulted.

Throughout the process, your surveyor should keep you up-to-date with your application’s progress, let you know what fees should be paid when, and then take possession of the final Land/Community Division Certificate of Approval for you.

What is a conveyancer?

A conveyancer is a specialised legal professional who handles all aspects of property transactions, focusing on property transfers from one party to another. This includes managing legal documents, ensuring compliance with property law, and liaising with various stakeholders such as financial institutions, real estate agents, and local councils. Their role is to facilitate a smooth and legally sound transaction, whether you are buying or selling property.

Adelaide Property Conveyancers like Eckermann Conveyancers primary goal is to protect your best interests throughout the transaction, providing you with peace of mind and confidence.

When to Engage Property Conveyancing Services

The ideal time to hire conveyancing services is when you decide to buy or sell a property. For buyers, it is wise to involve a conveyancer before making an offer or, at the latest, before signing any contracts. This early involvement ensures that all legal aspects, including any special conditions in the purchase agreement, are not to your disadvantage and that the property’s legal title and any outstanding debts or issues are thoroughly checked.

For sellers, engaging Adelaide conveyancers before listing the property will mean they can help prepare the vendor’s statement and sometimes the contract of sale. These documents are vital in ensuring a legally valid and smooth selling process. Moreover, having a property conveyancer on board early helps identify and resolve potential issues affecting the sale.

Engaging conveyancing services early in the property transaction process offers significant benefits. It allows for ample preparation, ensuring all necessary documents and procedures are completed in time for key milestones in the buying or selling process. This proactive approach ultimately facilitates a more streamlined and stress-free transaction, underscoring the value of timing in property conveyancing.

Difference between conveyancer and surveyor

When subdividing land, you will need the help of Adelaide conveyancers and a surveyor because they handle different parts of the process.

In simple terms, the main difference between a conveyancer and a surveyor is that the latter performs the first part of the subdivision process and the conveyancer handles the rest of the paperwork and transaction.

The surveyor performs the following steps:

  • Conduct surveys for the marking of boundaries and easements
  • Prepare and lodge the development application
  • Notify all relevant authorities of your development application
  • Receive the Certificate of Approval

Your conveyancer, on the other hand, navigates the home stretch for you.

When your surveyor hands over the Certificate of Approval and the division plan, the conveyancer prepares the rest of the paperwork, arranging relevant consents with the Land Services SA and then finalising the real estate transactions.

As with buying and selling a property, land divisions and community divisions can be exciting and worthwhile developments with much potential for things to go wrong.

Just remember, surrounding yourself with professionals who have guided many developments to fruition will be a prudent move to protect your venture and your assets.

Now you know the difference between a residential conveyancing expert and a surveyor. Read the FAQs below for more information or call Eckermanns conveyancing services if you have any questions about the subdivision process.


What is a subdivision survey?

This is the process outlined above, of dividing a block of land into smaller pieces.

Do you need a surveyor to subdivide?

While you could submit the application yourself it is strongly recommended you get a professional licensed surveyor to determine the planning and development requirements, to draft plans and to lodge the necessary applications.

How much land do you need to subdivide?

This will depend on your local council’s development plans and regulations. That’s why we suggest running your planning idea past your local council first.

Related blog posts: