Our Philippine House Project – Boundary Survey

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A boundary survey for your Philippine lot or property. How much should it cost? It’s not unusual to have an already surveyed subdivision lot resurveyed.  Some subdivisions have permanent boundary monuments.  Our lot is technically in a subdivision, but really is just a patch in an larger farm field.  There were no monuments, although the lot had been surveyed previously. We asked that the seller resurvey the lot and set boundary monuments before we proceeded with the purchase.  The seller did so.  There were no problems.  The surveyor set those prefabricated concrete monuments which are sold at building material stores.  They are about 5″ in diameter and about 2′ long.

Carabao investigating the surveyor – “here goes the neighborhood”

It took a while before we built our fence.  Our property is low-lying and gets pretty wet and muddy during the rainy season. By the time we were ready to start with the fence, the monuments had been scattered.

Concrete survey monument

So we had to have it surveyed again and the monuments anchored in concrete rather than just stuck in the dirt.  The cost for this was less than P5,000.

survey monument

The photo above is of a boundary marker (and a bamboo flag)  of a survey completed on a neighboring property as it appears about two weeks after the survey was completed.  It has already come out of the ground and will be moved by animals, humans (kid variety) etc. and the work of the survey lost.  That’s what happened to us.  As far as we could see, the surveyors did not use the below grade metal monuments as used in the U.S.  The advantage of the metal rods or pipes is that they are hard to disturb and can be relocated using a metal detector.

Of course the monuments have to be displaced again when the excavation for the fence is done.  Before they moved the monuments, the workers put up batter-boards and used galvanized tie wire to mark the boundary lines during the fence construction.  During construction, we had a huge storm which collapsed some of the trenches and generally made a mess of the project.  One of the neighboring property owners came by and asked us to be sure that our fence was not off by even a millimeter.  I was so worried that I asked the surveyor to come back to recheck the fence but he was tired of surveying the property!

This photo shows how batter boards and a wire guide line were used to ensure that the wall was built precisely on the property line.  The batter board and line were installed before the monuments were removed.  The monuments had to be removed to allow the corner fence posts to be formed up and poured.

Comments (19) Write a comment

    • We’re not sure how surveyors determine their fees. They just gave us a set price. Since it was a resurvey, it was not expensive.

      Reply

  1. Hi all, how much is the average cost for land surveyor. We are buying a 1000 sq mtr lot in Zambales, we are being charged p60,000 for land survey. My thought is, this is pretty high. Am I wrong? If any of you know the answer please reply, Thanks in advance God bless ya’ll.

    Reply

    • P60,000 seems very high to us but of course there may be complexities. We paid about P5,000 to 10,000 for a resurvey.

      Reply

    • hello dennis,as far as i know the surveyor fee will depend on what would be the case of the land.For example, your 1000 sq mtr lot will be subdivided to three different parts and the initial set price is 10,000 it will be trippled..as our friend Bob says it was only resurveyed,meaning there is no land title to be transferred or issued again..in addition to that ,issuance of land title is a long term matter and a lot of different requirements.

      Reply

  2. why would someone build ouse in ricefields tha people depend for survival this is so stupid

    Reply

    • I agree. Good agricultural lands are being developed all over the Philippines and elsewhere. There does not seem to be any zoning to preserve anything. So. I agree, it is stupid. Our particular lot was given to an attorney in lieu of legal fees owed by a large landowner. Some of his other lands were taken out of production and “redistributed” under “land reform”. Our particular area is not that viable for rice because there is no irrigation water available. So it’s one crop of rice and then pastured.

      Reply

  3. When we build our wall fence around our property we set it approximately 1 meters inside the boundary marker.we did this to make sure would not have any dispute with neighbor.while we were in the states for couple of years they build behind us and attached their wall placing their post exactly on the property line.then they build a short wall attaching ours.that piece of wall is on our property and illegally attached to our wall without permission. We meet our barangay and our neighbor she said that she have the right to attach my wall and get my 1 meter property. Is that true? I dnt have any idea about this pls help need advice

    Reply

    • Hi Che,

      Sorry for your problems. This is really a legal problem which will require an attorney. There is a principle of “adverse possession” which says that if someone “openly and notoriously” occupies your property for a long period of time, you can lose the property but generally we are talking about many years. Don’t depend on a barangay official. It was a mistake to build your wall anywhere but on your property line. I would have advised you to have a survey before building the wall and then to build it exactly on the line.

      Bob and Carol

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

  4. Hi
    My wife and I are contemplating a 1700sqm lot in Sitio Cagay on Negros. I said to my wife that spending a fortune on a perimeter fence, I wanted to be sure that the outside wall was three meters inside the property line, not precisely on it. I don’t want our fence becoming an interior wall of a future neighbors house, although I realize the buffer zone may be infringed upon anyway. At least it may provide us with some solace that any future land disputes won’t be an issue.

    By the way, I’ve only just found your blog and find everything I’ve read so far extremely well written, thorough, and very informative. Thank you for your service to all doing their due-diligence on matters of retiring in the RP.

    Regard,
    Tom & Meriam

    Reply

    • Tom,

      I am certainly not a legal expert, so take what I say with that in mind. I believe it is typical to build your fence so that the exterior of the fence is exactly on the property line. That’s what we did. We had our property boundaries surveyed more than once to be sure. We also have an agreement with one of our neighbors that the fence is in the correct location. As you suggest, I don’t see any point in giving up three meters of property to your neighbor. I am sure you can count on the area outside your wall being infringed on in one way or the other.

      Bob

      Reply

  5. Re: Your boundary survey
    The surveyor should have run an offset line inside your boundary with reference points along the way to be able to reset disturbed monuments and make sure your fence remained on your property. We are getting ready to survey our lot and I will insist on RPs for every corner, probably 2 meters inside the line. Easy to do and shortstops headaches later on.
    BTW, this is a great site. Happy we found it.

    Reply

    • Peter,

      Thanks for your excellent suggestion. We only wish it would have been suggested by our surveyors. What is the point of “permanent” survey monuments that have to be removed during boundary fence construction?

      Bob and Carol

      Reply

  6. Hi, I would just like to reiterate the neighbour’s remark of “not being a millimetre off” especially due to location. As you stated, you are technically in a subdivision and although you made sure, your readers may not be as conscientious when dealing with Philippine barangay authorities.

    Currently we rent on Mactan Island, the lot is supposed to be 1000 sq.m. The empty lot next to us was bought by a developer who is planning a shopping mall. Upon survey, our 8ft. concrete security wall shares the property line and either needs to come down or the owner must buy the 4 inches of land that it occupies from the developer. Plus, must pay for resurvey and any replanning the developer may have to do. I would assume buying a lot in a subdivision would cause someone to be equally responsible or else future development may come back to haunt them as it did here.

    Also, as you stated, we as immigrants are not allowed to buy land here and resale for profit or otherwise is a futile venture. A person who wishes to live out their ‘golden years’ here may be best suited in a condo, which can be bought and sold by said immigrant. But even at that, turnover is slow.

    Thanks for your webpage… love the pics and best of luck with your new home!

    Reply

    • Dave,

      Thanks for sharing your story. Just another reason to rent or lease and not buy. Boundary disputes are not unique to the Philippines, but in the U.S. many have title insurance and the title insurance company may defend your title or pay compensation. I did everything I could to ensure that our fence was built in the right place. I thought it was interesting that my neighbor was so direct with me about not infringing on his property. Usually Filipinos are highly diplomatic and indirect. I guess he wanted to be sure there was no misunderstanding.

      Bob

      Reply

  7. Hi thereGoIIllo,After moving and retiring in the Philippines and building a Home have you found it ALL WORTHWHILE as i and my Philippine Partner are thinking of doing the same in the next two years although the area we are looking at is in Gatasan Catanauan beach QUEZON PROVINCE about 4 hours drive south of Manila etc thats if I am accepted for Permanant Residency.Would appreciate your important views on the subject Cheers Roger Potter 99 Tawari Street, Matamata North Island.New Zealand

    Reply

    • Roger,

      Yes, we are very happy living in our house. It adds immeasurably to our quality of life as compared to any rental property we could expect to find. Does it make economic sense? The very low rates of return on other investment options make putting money in a house look a bit more rational. Just remember a couple of things. The property will be owned by your wife or partner, so be very sure of your relationship. Also, generally the Philippine property market is not very liquid, so be sure you want to live where you build for many years. Finally, don’t spend more on property than you can afford to lose.

      Bob

      Reply

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