Frequently Asked Questions...
What is your coverage?
We cover the whole of the UK. We have covered Lowestoft, Stranraer, Bangor, Sandwich and The Lizard in recent time.
This said, the logistics of reaching the more remote areas adds to costs, so that minimum fees for reaching Cornwall or The Highlands mean we struggle to compete for the smaller projects. For Northern Ireland and the various islands we do need to charge for ferries / flights, also any accommodation, so we are likely to only offer competitive prices for larger projects, such as providing lease plans for whole blocks of flats or office buildings.
When can I have the plans?
Typically a little over a week from ordering, subject to access being available at a time convenient to us.
We try and rationalise our appointment schedules to reduce the time we spend travelling instead of surveying, hence for most areas we typically can offer a choice of appointments on two days each week. Our work is prioritised by order date, not appointment date, so an earlier appointment does not ensure an earlier return. If you really need a plan urgently (under a week) we can sometimes offer an priority turn around at an additional cost from £125 for smaller sites.
We initially deliver draft copies by email as pdf files; these will need proofing and paying for before final copies are issued. In most cases the other party will also wish to verify that the site ownership is being recorded as they understand the boundaries and easements to be, and would expect to see a draft copy to comment upon. Typically contracts proceed without delay by this step, and observing it can reduce delays and confusion later.
We do version number and date our plans, however it is good practice for you to destroy any final plans which have since been updated - obsolete versions of plans can appear and cause problems years later - this being one of our key reasons for marking draft versions initially.Once proofed and confirmed correct, and paid for, we normally email the pdf file of the final version for the next working day. Sending printed copies by post can take a bit longer, it may be a week before you receive them.
We deregistered in summer 2018 so there is now no VAT to pay on our services.
How do I print plans?
Most of our plans are sized to print on A4 or A3 colour printers.
Ideally use a good grade paper and clean print heads (no streaky dropped lines).Check in the printer properties that you are printing at the intended size (100%), not allowing the printer to be "smart" and squeeze the plan onto a sheet with its own preferred margin width. Exact terms vary, but "re-scale to fit media" is a common option that needs de-selecting. Re-scaled plans are the main reason that Land Registry rejects plans!
You can check your printed copy is correctly scaled by measuring the scale bar - it should be exactly 50mm in most cases (usually it will state the intended length above); another cross check for smaller sites is the location plan which will be in a box exactly 80mm x 80mm.
We can send printed copies, but we charge for these and it will introduce extra delay.
Why do I need new plans?
Typically to accurately document and record the ownership of a piece of land or building, thereby protecting the owner from other claims.
Legally all land transactions in the UK need to be registered (Land Registry in England and Wales, The Procurate Fiscal in Scotland). For freehold transactions and longer-term freehold arrangements these need to include accurate mapping showing the location and extent of the property. This provides a record of what the original transaction was, and protects interested parties from spurious claims and boundary creep over time spans where memory becomes an unreliable witness.The Land Registry provides a minimum set of specifications for these plans, appropriate for them to carry out their duties. We routinely work to higher specifications to ensure the plans provided meet the needs of supporting your legal contracts properly.
The Land Registry specifications have been upgraded in recent years to reflect the better quality surveying that is now achievable. This particularly impacts leaseholds where older hand drawn plans no longer meet the requirements.
We also find that financial institutions are requesting that documentation be upgraded to meet current standards, this is to ensure they can clearly define the asset which is security against money leant. Typically this occurs when re-mortgaging a property, especially one which is set up for multiple occupancy.
I have existing plans - can you use them?
In almost all cases the answer is no.
These plans should record the buildings and grounds as they are, not as they were planned to be.
Pre-existing plans are normally drawn to suit a specific purpose, and without detailed specifications and drawing dates it is hard to establish their reliability short of checking them on site (which usually is often slower than re-surveying).
We find significant anomalies with almost all architects plans; what seem like trivial common-sense changes made at the building stage are rarely recorded, but can have a significant impact on final boundary positions; we also find that for minor alterations architects plans often summarise details quite crudely away from the area of importance to them.
Estate agent floor plans are rarely accurate enough, they are usually intended as no more than a rough layout guide.
Any existing standard Land Registry plan is of some interest as it shows what Land Registry believe the extent of the property to be; however these plans are typically based upon relatively crude OS maps.
If you actually have the original title deeds then these can be useful; they are the most reliable source of information for boundary positions if they were actually created from a proper site survey. Keep them safely (we will work off a scan or photo), they can be as important as any new plan we create. We will check them against our site surveys to give you an idea of their accuracy and reliability. Often these plans are either held by the mortgage company, or have been destroyed. Land Registry does not universally hold them, and they are normally part of their digital register, so it is rare for them to appear on a standard search.
Can we just mark up Ordnance Survey plans?
In almost all cases the answer is no.
Ordnance survey mapping shows features, not boundaries. Boundaries shown may follow these features (such as walls, fences, streams), but it was not the intention of OS mapping to record these for the purpose of establishing boundaries.
OS mapping often simplifies lines where features co-exist; so you could find a ditch flanked by a wall with a hedge planted adjacent, then a stock fence erected to protect the hedge all marked by one line.OS mapping is typically created from aerial survey, it has an accuracy of around 300 - 600mm typically, and the variation in errors is often expressed over short distances. In simple terms it is more common than not that either the length or width of you property is incorrectly shown by over 300mm (1 foot), and errors over 1 metre are not uncommon.
OS mapping is updated every few years for most areas, however most lines are left unchanged unless there is an obvious difference; in many towns the rear extensions to most properties are not shown.OS mapping struggles to pick up features and changes under heavy tree cover.
The one occasion where OS mapping is appropriate can be field and farm transactions; for large blocks of lower value land bounded by well established hedges, old walls and roads the lower accuracy is likely to be acceptable.
What is the law about boundaries?
Complex - if you need to know then speak to a lawyer.
In the UK we define land ownership by General Boundaries. This in effect means that the map is not gospel. It also makes for complexity when definitions are lost, vague, or relate to features that have long since disappeared. There is a system for defining boundaries precisely by grid co-ordinates down to cm precision, Determined Boundaries, (effectively making the mapping the absolute determinant), but it is rarely applied outside the most vicious boundary disputes.
The law on property ownership provides a framework for establishing ownership, however each plot of land will have been subject to transactions and contracts which determine the exact nature of the ownership subject to lawfulness. Therefore your first port of call is to look at your deeds.
Typically boundaries are originally defined to follow observable features, run a fixed distance from a feature, or run between (or beyond) points measured from observable features. For existing features there should be some description as to which side the boundary runs (or if necessary, along the median line). For unmarked boundaries there should ideally be a description of who is to erect the boundary, how it is maintained, who owns it, and on whose land it is to be built on, along with specifications of structure, maximum or minimum heights. It is generally simpler if one
party takes sole responsibility and builds just within their land.
Rebuilding a boundary feature does not move the original boundary. Accurate original documentation will help establish where a wall or fence has been built along the wrong line, our plans will help you should this arise in the future. It is possible that fences were originally positioned incorrectly, so some complexity can arise when they are replaced even on the same alignment.
Adverse Possession covers cases where land has been occupied and used as part of an adjacent title for a prolonged period even though it is technically part of another title. This land can be claimed provided the original owner raises no objections and takes no steps to reinstate the original / legal boundaries. It often relates to cases of garden boundaries creeping backwards into alleyways or scrub land. You will need legal advise if you plan to make such a claim. We suggest you consider carefully the implications of making such a claim, it may alert a landowner to the infringement and loose you all use of the land, unless you have need of the land for access or building you might be better served by quietly enjoying the use of the land. We can provide plans to support adverse possession claims. In other cases our plans will show the legal boundary relative to the fences and other features; we do not highlight these areas on the plan, but there existence will be evident. You can not sell land you do not own, but unless it is critical for access to your land it should not hinder a sale as any new owner could still enjoy unofficial use of the extra land until such time as the true owner becomes aware and takes appropriate action.
Boundary Disputes: the simple advise is don't have them. They inevitably cost more than the land is worth, and too often are over trivial amounts of land. If your neighbour replaces a fence, and you notice it has crept an inch onto your land either ignore it or at most pay for your solicitor to write a polite letter pointing out the discrepancy, and asking that when the fence is next replaced that its original position be reinstated.
The Party Wall Act provides a framework for dealing with shared walls. In the case that you end up with a full blown boundary dispute you will find there are various options for arbitration and resolving matters away from lawyers and courts; The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors can point you to surveyors who can make legally binding decisions about boundaries at a far lower cost than the typical court case, and they will have the experience in dealing with such matters routinely.
Naturally this and other information here is offered informally as general guidance and does not constitute legal advice. We can accept no liability arising.
What equipment do you use?
We primarily use a ZEB-1 handheld laser scanner.
This is state of the art technology that provides us with most of the dimensions and shapes we require.
For title plans we usually use a survey grade GPS system. We use a hand-held laser tape measure for supplementary measurements. We use basic photogrammetry on some occasions to assist with recording high level details. And we use pencil and paper for most of our note taking. Plans are prepared in a standard CAD package.
How long does a site visit take and what will you be doing?
It varies with site size; for flats typically 1 hour each; for a GPS title plan survey we usually require 2-3 hours (mostly to allow for an accurate base position to be fixed).
On site we will typically start by setting up the GPS system if required, then look over the site and discuss where boundary positions are. We will then carry out the scan of the site, before uploading this data for processing. We will then make annotated sketches and notes, before checking results for our scan data. We will then make any other measures necessary, including additional GPS surveying if required. Finally we would discuss any matters arising.
We normally require access to all areas. When using the scanner we need doors and curtains open, and movements minimized.
How accurate are your drawings?
Good enough that if you bulldozed the site, we could reposition a boundary wall or fence along the original line such that the boundary is within the thickness of that wall or fence.
Each drawing will differ according to the conditions of the site, however as a rule of thumb we measure with equipment that has 10mm precision or better, and we draw to 20mm precision (smaller than this and we are swamped with insignificant details such as uneven plastering).
Our surveys usually have 20mm accuracy over short ranges, and 50mm accuracy over the extent of a typical site. When we use a GPS system to fix our co-ordinates the accuracy is around 50mm. Most OS sourced detailed mapping is accurate to 300-600mm, with variation in error of this magnitude often expressed across a single plot. Accuracy figures given are for 2 sigma (95%) level.
Are there any hidden costs to worry about?
Not if we can help it. We know you want a fixed price up front, so we now provide inclusive quotes which we keep to.
Our fees include travel for a single site visit, reasonable edits for 12 months from order date, location mapping, and one printed set of final plans if requested (normally five copies of each plan).
However there are occasions where we do need to make additional charges; normally relating to extra costs incurred which are out of our control but within your control, including but not limited to:
Failed appointments - either late cancellations, or re-visits required as arranged access was not available.
Major edits to plans - often as a result of building work; sometimes we can work from other plans, but if there is an impact upon the boundaries we usually need to re-visit the site.
Reprinting paper copies of plans - we usually provide paper copies of the final plan upon request, but we charge for subsequent reprints as might be needed if adjustments are made.Extra work added to the original brief, including cases where the original site was significantly misrepresented.
Inaccessible boundaries (e.g. heavily overgrown gardens).
Long access tracks and other titles and easements covering a wider geographic spread than might reasonably be anticipated.
Significant detours to collect and return keys.
Edits to plans beyond 12 months from the order date (we need to re-license the OS mapping data).
Revisits required to remap features altered since the original plans produced.
On occasions where extra charges are probable we will try to advise you quickly, and keep the extra cost to a reasonable level.
What are your terms and conditions?
Our standard terms and conditions can be found as a pdf file here.
We updated our data policies in Spring 2018; we hold very little personal data beyond that required to contact individuals, and do not forward this on except as required by occassional subcontracting.
We reviewed our data policy in June 2020, specifically regarding communication. We informallly categorise customers by useage to help with communications not relating to specific orders. Very occassionally we have to communicate to regular customers significant business information, such as relevant changes to terms and conditions, withdrawls or changes to services, or significant pricing variations. Such communications will only be sent to those clients to whom it is relevant; this should only be those who 1) are repeat customers 2) have sought quotes or received services within the last year 3) are commercial operations 4) we are in reasonable expectation of future business 5) from whom we have no counter instruction. Typically this would be a short hand selected list.
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When was this website created?
This website was created in January 2015 by Paul Mann.
It was last updated in 28th June 2020 by Paul Mann.
It supersedes our old websites of floorplansnorth.co.uk, penninepropertystudio.co.uk & landregistryplan.co.uk.
Whilst we have tried to ensure this web site gives correct information, we offer no guarantees in this respect, and accept no liability arising from inaccuracies. E&OE.