Put the tape measure away

Put the tape measure away

Postby Conveyancer » Thu May 18, 2006 3:18 pm

It should be a criminal offence, punishable by being locked in a room full of surveyors discussing theodolites, to measure your boundaries without an order of the court.

1. The plan you are relying on is almost certainly not going to be suitable to take measurements from.

2. You probably don't know how to measure land properly.

3. If you start to measure your boundaries you will start to believe things you have no business believing, for example that you know exactly where your boundaries are.

4. Legal boundaries can move over time, so there is a possibilty that the fence is in the right place simply because by having been where it is for long enough it has come to represent the boundary.

5. If you start bandying measurements about (a) if you are in dispute with your neighbour you will make the dispute worse and (b) if you are not in dispute you soon will be.

6. Disputes over boundaries enrich lawyers and surveyors - you don't want to do that as they are already rich enough.

7. Of course if your neighbour takes liberties you will want to do something about it. Making points such as "I used to be able to get my wheelbarrow between my house wall and your fence, but now I can't" and "You have pushed over all my shrubs and they are now at an angle when they used to stand up straight" will carry more weight than sticking plans under people's noses.

8. When you move into a new house take photos of the fences, walls etc from all angles. These are far more likely to be of use than plans if you want to show that the nice new fence your neighbour has put up is not in the same position as the old one.

9. Try and be around if your neighbour is putting up a new fence.
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Re: Put the tape measure away

Postby andrew54 » Thu May 18, 2006 9:12 pm

Conveyancer wrote:
9. Try and be around if your neighbour is putting up a new fence.



But they always do it when we are away on holiday!

.
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Postby mark1 » Fri May 19, 2006 7:45 am

Wheel barrows can be all different sizes! How does one know that they are talking about the same wheel barrow? Plants move naturally, too little water, too much water and wind direction. What if the said land was once open plan. No - let us use the tape measure and the measurements on the deeds.
With your scenario it would be possible that the terraced house in the middle ends up with no garden because the neighbouring fences have moved (legally) over a period of time.
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I want to move my boundary

Postby paul66 » Fri May 19, 2006 8:50 am

So the plans I have that outline my boundaries are useless if I want to reinstate the correct boundary line. All measurements have a datum point from the walls of my house and the house hasn't moved :D .
See my post in Animals (Dogs and fences)as to why I want to move it. I thought it would be a matter of informing the housing association and on from there. Will this not be the case then ?
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Postby subjecttocontract » Fri May 19, 2006 11:39 am

1. The plan you are relying on is almost certainly not going to be suitable to take measurements from.

If the plans have dimensions then surely these are OK to use ?

2. You probably don't know how to measure land properly.

So, how would you go about measuring land 'properly' ?

3. If you start to measure your boundaries you will start to believe things you have no business believing, for example that you know exactly where your boundaries are.

Not necessarily if its done properly, with care and accuracy then most people should be able to manage it.

6. Disputes over boundaries enrich lawyers and surveyors - you don't want to do that as they are already rich enough.

.....and a satisfactory ending to a dispute makes you feel really good and might well be worth the toil & trouble.
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Postby Tm » Fri May 19, 2006 2:31 pm

I agree with alot of what conveyancer is saying.

From our deeds we cannot tell how big our garden should be or where the boundary lies. The boundary between mine and both our neighbours have moved over time, as hedges get replaced by fences and then fences get replaced. Also the boundary line lies at an angle between the two houses - I know that some people on this site have been able to measure an equal distance between the two houses. The deeds look like the houses sit squarely in rectangular boxes (if you see what I mean) but it is not like that in real life. Also my NFH property is higher than mine. Commonsense would suggest that where his land ends, mine begins - not according to the land registry. Even though a property is 1-? feet higher than another it does not mean that the boundary lies at the edge of their land (according to the LR). Now I find that hard to understand!

I have photographs of my partner cleaning his car in a space by the side of our house which is no longer large enough to fit a car (well perhaps a smart car!). My lovely NFH tried to accuse us of taking "several inches of his drive". Funny that, I thought we gave him several inches - as shown by my photos!
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Postby subjecttocontract » Fri May 19, 2006 6:17 pm

I agree with alot of what conveyancer is saying.

So do I, just not all of it!

From our deeds we cannot tell how big our garden should be or where the boundary lies.

But Paul66 can ....cos his deeds have the dimensions shown.

Its important to recognise that not all properties and boundaries are the same. What applies to your property doesn't necessarily apply to mine. Just because Conveyancer knows how to measure land 'properly' doesn't mean we don't etc etc.

I think its important to take a balanced view of these things.
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Re: Put the tape measure away

Postby Conveyancer » Fri May 19, 2006 10:52 pm

andrew54 wrote:
Conveyancer wrote:
9. Try and be around if your neighbour is putting up a new fence.



But they always do it when we are away on holiday!



I hope people will realise from its tone, particularly the first paragraph, that my post should be taken with a small, but certainly not large, pinch of salt. The point I wanted to get across is that there is nothing magic about plans and that even if your plan is accurate it will be of limited value if the boundary has in fact moved. I shall be making other points in reply to the other posts.
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Postby Conveyancer » Fri May 19, 2006 11:06 pm

higgs wrote:Wheel barrows can be all different sizes! How does one know that they are talking about the same wheel barrow? Plants move naturally, too little water, too much water and wind direction. What if the said land was once open plan. No - let us use the tape measure and the measurements on the deeds.
With your scenario it would be possible that the terraced house in the middle ends up with no garden because the neighbouring fences have moved (legally) over a period of time.


The point I wished to make was that someone may find that when he tries to push the particular wheelbarrow he has had for years down the side of his house he is cannot do so after a new fence has been put up. It would be a practical demonstration that there has been a change. I am no expert on plants, but I think that a shrub that has recently been disturbed will show evidence of the disturbance. I just selected two instances. I could for example have said that before the new fence was put up you could walk round the birdbath, but now the gap has been narrowed and you can't.

It is of course theoretically possible for one person's garden to get narrower and narrower. I point out that statute recognises that boundaries move and there is a procedure for getting your title plan altered. There is no limit on the number of times this can be done.
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Re: I want to move my boundary

Postby Conveyancer » Fri May 19, 2006 11:09 pm

paul66 wrote:So the plans I have that outline my boundaries are useless if I want to reinstate the correct boundary line. All measurements have a datum point from the walls of my house and the house hasn't moved :D


Please see my observations below.
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Postby Conveyancer » Sat May 20, 2006 1:25 am

subjecttocontract wrote:1. The plan you are relying on is almost certainly not going to be suitable to take measurements from.

If the plans have dimensions then surely these are OK to use ?


Not necessarily. Assuming you are referring to figured dimensions, as opposed to scaling off the plan, any one or more of the following (as well as other things) may apply:

(a) The measurements may not have been taken accurately. The effect will be different according to exactly what was measured.

(b) A plan showing figured dimensions and insufficient fixed points only tells part of the story. To take a simple example to emphasise the point: Imagine a large field with a building right in the middle of it. The intention is to sell a four sided plot of land with the opposite sides being of equal length and one of the boundaries is to be one of the walls of the building. A plan is drawn showing only the building and the plot. The dimensions of each side of the plot are indicated, but there is no further information. You may think you know where the land is, but you only know where one side is, because there are an infinite number of positions in which the other three sides can be placed. What you need to know is the angles or the precise position of the corners opposite the wall by showing their distance from a fixed point such as the corner of the field.

We can take this a stage further. Let's assume that a plan was drawn up showing everything that was needed so that a surveyor with the plan in his hand can accurately plot the land on the ground. A house is built in the middle of the plot, but when fences are put up on the three open sides they are not put up in the correct position, but each one is of the length shown on the plan. This leaves us with a nicely drawn plan and three boundaries that do not correspond with the plan. We fast forward fifty years. There is a boundary dispute. A surveyor measures up and finds the discrepancy. By this time the history is forgotten. What is not known is whether the fences were put up and then the plot inaccurately measured, or the plot measured and then the fences inaccurately sited. The plan now has limited value in determining the position of the fenced boundaries mainly because after the lapse of time the fences have come to represent the boundaries. Of course if the fences had been erected in the correct position the plan would be of immense value as it would confirm that the fences were in the right place. The plan would also have been of value fifty years ago if a surveyor had been on site to supervise the positioning of the fences.

(c) You may not know if the measurements were taken on the ground or in the air. The steeper the gradient of the land and the longer the distance measured, the more critical this is.

(d) Many conveyance plans are "as we meant to build it" and not "as we in fact built it".

(e) If your land is registered it is the title plan that shows what you own and these rarely have figured dimensions on them. Any plan attached to a pre-registration deed is no longer part of the title to your land. The register is the title and replaces the "old deeds". Measuring from the figured dimensions of a pre-registration deed is a futile exercise. In fact, if a plan included in the deeds submitted with an application for first registration does not quite coincide with the OS plan the LR "corrects" the position and registers the property according to the OS plan, and not the plan on the deeds.

subjecttocontract wrote:2. You probably don't know how to measure land properly.

So, how would you go about measuring land 'properly' ?


No idea as I am not a surveyor. I am not saying that a non-professional cannot measure his property and come up with the correct figures, especially if the land is flat. However, I doubt a person can take measurements in the air without at least some training.

subjecttocontract wrote:3. If you start to measure your boundaries you will start to believe things you have no business believing, for example that you know exactly where your boundaries are.

Not necessarily if its done properly, with care and accuracy then most people should be able to manage it.


The sort of thing that can happen is this:

(a) You are scaling from a plan that is a copy and copies are rarely to scale.

(b) The approximate scale is 1:1250 and this is difficult to scale from accurately.

(c) The distances you scale from the plan are distances in the air, but you assume that they are distances on the ground.

(d) You want to measure from the back of the house to the rear fence. You do not realise that the rear of the house has been extended and that the extension is not shown on the plan you have scaled from.

(e) If you want your garden to be longer you may, without necessarily intending to deceive, measure it longer. You will make little allowances that will be in your favour.

You can see how easy it is to come to believe something you should not believe. And all the measuring may be a waste of time because even if your measurements are accurate, the boundary may have moved anyway!

subjecttocontract wrote:6. Disputes over boundaries enrich lawyers and surveyors - you don't want to do that as they are already rich enough.

.....and a satisfactory ending to a dispute makes you feel really good and might well be worth the toil & trouble.


In my experience in practice boundary disputes rarely end satisfactorily. They are most likely to end satisfactorily if the encroachment is recent and substantial. The problem that lawyers have with boundary disputes is that there is little law in them and few conclusive documents to rely on. The problem with boundary disputes that surveyors have is that they are usually being asked to determine the position of a line without sufficient information.
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Postby Conveyancer » Sat May 20, 2006 1:31 am

subjecttocontract wrote:I agree with alot of what conveyancer is saying.

So do I, just not all of it!

From our deeds we cannot tell how big our garden should be or where the boundary lies.

But Paul66 can ....cos his deeds have the dimensions shown.

Its important to recognise that not all properties and boundaries are the same. What applies to your property doesn't necessarily apply to mine. Just because Conveyancer knows how to measure land 'properly' doesn't mean we don't etc etc.

I think its important to take a balanced view of these things.


The really important thing to remember is that, for the most part, conveyancing plans are intended to identify properties and not to show their boundaries accurately.
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Postby mark1 » Sat May 20, 2006 7:47 am

I understand what Conveyancer is trying to get across but I still think that if one has the original measurements and they are taken in the air and on the ground if there is a dispute these should be referred to first with a bit of common sense thrown in.
As regards walking around the birdbath it could possibly be that one has put on weight.
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Postby Conveyancer » Sat May 20, 2006 11:32 am

higgs wrote:I understand what Conveyancer is trying to get across but I still think that if one has the original measurements and they are taken in the air and on the ground if there is a dispute these should be referred to first with a bit of common sense thrown in.
As regards walking around the birdbath it could possibly be that one has put on weight.


As I said, the plans have to be the starting point. The problem is that most people do not understand the limitations of conveyancing plans and get frustrated.
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Postby andrew54 » Sat May 20, 2006 12:36 pm

I can see exactly what Conveyancer is saying, the LR plan is to identify which house, not to identify the exact boundaries. It is interesting that in some old conveyances I have, there is no plan at all. The house is identified as the house where Mr x lives, which used to be occupied by Mr y and before that Mr and Mrs z. No attempt at identifying boundaries at all!

The problem nowadays is that we really would find it useful if something did state the exact position of boundaries. It is tempting to move all my fences out a few inches when the neighbours are on holiday (they did it to me one year!), and it is tempting to move the fences a couple of feet when the old lady next door dies and the house is empty.
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