If you have a large block in Adelaide or South Australia and are considering residential land subdivision, you will find yourself looking for a surveyor before too long.

We work with surveyors throughout South Australia and can even recommend some to you. Yet another benefit of forging a lifelong relationship with your conveyancer! However, you may be wondering, what’s the difference between a conveyancer and a surveyor?

Read on to find out. And if you’ve never engaged a licensed surveyor before, we also map out the process you will need to follow.


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

We would argue that, 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.

Difference between conveyancer and surveyor

When subdividing land, you will need both a conveyancer 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.

So when your surveyor hands over the Certificate of Approval and the division plan, the conveyancer then prepares the rest of the paperwork, arranging relevant consents with the Lands Titles Office and then finalising the transaction.

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 conveyancer and surveyor. Read the FAQs below for more information or give Eckermanns a call 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.

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