Survey Types

By: Ivan B. Wallace Ontario Land Surveyor  09-12-2011
Keywords: Real Property

If you are purchasing a property such as a residence or commercial property, you should obtain either a Plan of Survey or a Surveyor’s Real Property Report.


Previously known as a “BLS” or Building Location Survey, a Surveyor's Real Property Report is a legal document that clearly illustrates the location of all visible public and private improvements relative to property boundaries. It generally takes the form of a plan or illustration of the various physical features of the property along with a written report highlighting the surveyor's opinion of any concerns. The plan and report may be combined on one document. This plan is typically used for residential real estate transactions.In a Real Estate transaction the Surveyor's Real Property Report can be relied upon by the purchaser, the seller, the lending institution, the municipality, the Realtor and all other parties to the transaction as an accurate representation of the property.

If you are a builder and plan to construct multiple homes in a new development, unique custom homes, or a commercial project, then we can provide the following services:

  • Site Plan for building permit application which includes sighting the structure(s) and providing lot grading details
  • Staking structure for excavation
  • Pin footings for structure and/or establishing grid lines for large structures
  • Title Survey (SRPR) for as-constructed structure
  • Lot Grading and Lot Grading certificates


A “plan of survey” may refer to a reference plan or a plan such as a Surveyor's Real Property Report (SRPR), or other survey plans not deposited in the Land Registry Office. Generally, if you are working with a commercial property that may or may not contain commercial buildings, then a Plan of Survey would be the product that would meet your needs.

If you are in the process of severing land, such as a building lot from a larger parcel or if you are required to clarify the description of a parcel if the written deed is convoluted or the Land Registrar demands such, then the Reference Plan would be the type of survey you choose.


These plans are deposited in the local Land Registry Office and are graphical representations of descriptions of land, as well as representations of divisions of land under the Planning Act RSO, 1990 Ch.P.13. A reference plan is necessary for a severance. Each Land Registry Office has a unique number, and reference plan numbers include the number of the office in which they are deposited. Reference plans show the surveyed boundary and dimensions as well as any physical or documentary evidence that could affect the title to the property. This may include the location of fences, hedges, retaining walls, overhead wires, etc. in relation to the boundaries and any easements or rights-of-way that are evident or that are registered on title. Buildings or other improvements on the property are generally not shown unless they were used to position the boundary or they encroach on the property.


M-plan (Registered in the Land Titles system) and Registered Plan (RP) (Registered in Registry system) Upon registration in the Land Registry Office, after appropriate approvals have been obtained, these plans subdivide property into two or more new parcels, units, or lots and set out the boundaries of these new lots for the first time. The approval process is governed by section 51 of the Planning Act RSO 1990 Ch. P.13 and includes consideration of where streets, parks and dwellings will be located. A registered plan of subdivision shows: the surveyed boundaries, numbering and dimensions of lots, the location, width and names of streets, and the sites of future schools and parks. These plans do not show specific building locations.


A Condominium Plan is also a plan of subdivision, which creates new parcels of land called Units. The major difference is that, except in the case of a vacant land condominium, the units are three-dimensional, with the boundaries being the physical surfaces of the buildings themselves. Since units may be located above and below each other, the legal description of the parcel must specify the Unit Number, Level Number and Plan Number. Unit owners share the ownership and the cost of maintaining the parts of the condominium that are not units.

A boundary dispute is not uncommon and can be resolved sometimes by simple rational discussion between owners. If the boundary is not apparent to the owners, a Land Surveyor is the person best suited to present the evidence to all parties. This can take the form of a simple Plan of Survey (hyperlink this term please) and would likely be the most cost effective solution.

Not all disputes can be easily resolved, and if either part takes strong positions, it may be in everyone’s best interest to perform a survey that would be recognized by law to be indisputable and “set in stone”.


This plan is designed to mediate a disputed boundary where there is doubt as to the true location on the ground. The effect of this type of plan is that the boundaries confirmed are then deemed to be the true and unalterable boundaries of the parcel.

Other Plans


These types of plans are used by government authorities where the owner of the subject lands is unwilling to sell title or where a price to sell title cannot be reached. 


This plan is used to illustrate a 3-dimensional parcel. Similar to a condominium plan, the strata plan shows a space where the monuments defining the parcel are usually part of the structure. Unlike condominium plans, this type of plan is not used when there is need for a corporation such as described in the Condominium Act.


A sketch is a graphic illustration prepared for retail leases, land severance applications, accidents, and similar purposes. A sketch will generally not be prepared from actual field survey, rather from either private survey records or public records in the registry office.


A Site Plan is a drawing, or set of drawings, illustrating the physical arrangement of existing property improvements such as buildings, driveways, parking areas, pedestrian sidewalks, fences, municipal services, etc. as well as any proposed improvements. Site plan approval must normally be completed before the issuance of a building permit. A Site Plan is a requirement for development under Section 41 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990 Ch.P.13. as amended March 21, 2001. Under this section, municipalities may establish a site plan control area in their Zoning By-laws and then designate specific site plan control areas. Applications are required for commercial, institutional, industrial and residential development. To clear conditions of site plan control or to file a successful site plan under the legislation, detailed drawings must accompany an application for development through approvals and registration of documents in the Land Registry Office.

Keywords: Real Property

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