FAQs

General Questions

What type of survey do I require?
If you have just purchased a lot and wish to have a house designed or are doing additions and need an architect or draftsperson to design your home or additions, you require a Contour and Feature Survey indicating the relevant features, trees, levels, visible services, contours, and outline of the existing house (if applicable) for design and costing requirements and is required by all local authorities.

If there is an existing house on the property, does it affect the cost?
If the house is to be demolished or additions are planned it can affect the cost in regard to the amount of detail required on the Contour and Feature Survey.

Does the Contour and Feature Survey include the Cadastral Survey?
No, the Cadastral Survey is a separate survey to re-establish the Title boundary corners. It is usually carried out just prior to construction commencing.

Do you service areas outside of Perth?
Yes. Cottage & Engineering Surveys also provides surveying services to WA’s South West, Busselton and Bunbury regions.

I am building on a large acreage lot; do I need to survey the whole lot?
No. This would prove to be very costly and most large lots have a designated building envelope area to build in, which is available from the developer or shire. This is the area we would survey. If no envelope survey is available, we would survey a 50m x 50m area only.

I want to subdivide my property; can you help?
Yes. Cottage & Engineering Surveys has an extensive history in and carries out a large number of all types of subdivisions each year. We can provide advice and guidance in selecting what sort of subdivision is best for you and the process and costs involved in completing it.

We are involved in the process from start to finish, and carry out all the survey work required at each stage of the subdivision – from application to subdivision to the lodgement of plans.

What types of subdivisions can Cottage perform?

Cottage specialises in small residential subdivisions of all types, including: Green Title Subdivisions, Survey Stratas, Built Stratas, Amalgamations and Conversions to Survey Strata.

Because we only deal with small projects, we are able to deliver surveys quickly and efficiently. We’re happy to look at all types of projects, however, if we feel your survey requirements would be better suited to another company we will happily refer you to another surveyor.

What role does Cottage play in subdivisions?

Cottage carries out all of the surveying work and applications directly involved in the survey side of a subdivision. This includes: the application to WAPC for subdivision conditional approval (where required), survey work to create the plan of subdivision, application for clearance to the relevant authorities, and lodgement of the plan to Landgate and WAPC (where applicable).

Cottage also advises on the work required on-site and who to liaise with to complete the conditions of the subdivision. Please note, we don’t act as the project manager or apply for titles. The project manager is responsible for co-ordination and organising onsite work and for liaising with relevant authorities regarding compliance with relevant conditions.

How long does a subdivision take?
This depends on what exists and what is being created on the block. Timeframes vary depending on the amount of onsite work to be done, the type of subdivision, and the workload of the authorities that need to approve the subdivision. However, most projects take a minimum of 6 to 12 months from start to finish.

How much does a subdivision cost?
How much a subdivision costs depends on what exists and what is being created on the block. This determines the work needed to be done on-site, the cost for our surveying work and the fees incurred with relevant authorities such as Water Corporation, Western Power and Local Government. If you know what you intend to do on your property and need a specific indication of the costs and issues involved you should request a quote or phone (08) 9446 7361 for more information.

What is the first thing I need to do to start a subdivision?
The first step in any subdivision should be to decide what you are going to do on the property; the type of subdivision, number of lots, and whether existing buildings are going to stay or be demolished, or added on to. These determine the order in which work is done.

Also, the type of subdivision required needs to be determined before you start work, as once started it can be expensive and time consuming to change.

Who designs my subdivision?
While Cottage can design some simple subdivisions and inform you of the options available to meet the basic requirements of the relevant zoning, we generally recommend that you talk to a designer or similar, as they have a better understanding of the lot sizes and shapes which are most amenable to building.

Who determines new house numbers?
Local Governments assign house numbers according to prescribed rules. When applications are made for new titles, they inform the Titles Office of their decision. If you wish to know the numbers to be assigned to a subdivision or to request specific numbers you should contact your Local Government.

Who applies for titles?
Cottage does NOT apply for titles; this is typically performed by either a settlement agent or a lawyer. While any settlement agent or lawyer can do this work, we recommend using an agent who specialises in titles on a regular basis.

What is the difference between Green Title and Strata Title?
The Strata Title is part of a group of two or more lots forming a Strata Scheme, which has a Strata Company over it and is subject to the rules of the Strata Titles Act, whereas the Green Title Lot (Torrens Title) is completely independent from its neighbouring lots.

For small or simple strata schemes, the most relevant considerations are that services (such as water, power, sewerage etc.) may be run through one lot for the benefit of another lot and the strata scheme can include common property which is the joint property and responsibility of all lot within the scheme.

What is the difference between Survey Strata and Built Strata?
On a Built Strata, the lots are comprised of one or more Part Lots, which can include the building area, whereas a Survey Strata plan only shows each lot as a whole and is denoted by boundary lengths and angles only.

From a practical point of view, this means that Built Stratas are typically done where all buildings are going to be built. Also, a Built Strata should be modified if any of the buildings are changed in any material way, which changes the areas of the building/s whereas a Survey Strata does not.

I am building under Built Strata; can I change to Survey Strata or Green Title?

This is a common source of confusion, as you are NOT building under Built Strata, but under Group or Multiple Dwelling rules. Construction, while related to subdivision, is a separate process, and depending on the type of subdivision and circumstances, can occur before, during or after the subdivision.

During or after construction you may be able to do either a Survey Strata or Green Title subdivision, given you meet the requirements of that sort or subdivision.

Find out more about Conversions to Survey Strata.

Find out more about Green Title Subdivisions.

Find out more about Survey Strata.

Find out more about Built Strata.

I am already part of a strata scheme and I want to subdivide my lot, what can I do?

The first thing to note is that you cannot have a mixed strata scheme (it is either all a Built Strata or all a Survey Strata) and therefore, you must re-subdivide under the same type of strata as currently exists. It is also important to note that the strata company, which means the owners of all the lots, must approve any re-subdivision. You should consult with someone before proceeding.

I am intending to build several units/residences on one Survey Strata lot; what should I do?
Firstly, you need to be aware you can only re-subdivide under Survey Strata and you require the permission of the entire strata scheme. Importantly, under Survey Strata you cannot have multi-tier strata lots, this is where one lot sits above another lot. This means no section of a building for one lot can sit above another lot.

I am already part of a strata scheme and I want to convert to a Green Title, can I?
Whether this is technically possible depends on the entire strata scheme meeting Green Title requirements under the current zoning, and the individual lots to be created meeting the requirements.

If they do, then it is possible to change. However, it may not be feasible to change, as the requirements for this conversion require the complete separation of all services (water, power, sewer etc.) so that no lot accesses a service via another lot. It also requires the consent of the entire existing scheme.


Built Strata

What do I own within the strata scheme?
Within a Built Strata scheme you exclusively own all areas denoted as either ‘Lot x’ or ‘Pt x’, which match your lot number that is shown on the strata plan. You also have a share of ownership of any area that is common. Note that the boundaries of any area owned may be defined by the description of the stratum written on the plan.

Do I have common property?
On most Built Stratas common property is not denoted. Instead, an area is common if it is NOT shown as belonging to any lot. Also a Built Strata has a height and depth limit for all the strata lots. This means anything above or below this limit is common.

Do I have to have common property?
There is no requirement of the Strata Act to have any ground floor area which is common property however common property areas may be required because of planning, design or practical reasons such as shared access.

When should I start the actual strata process?
If you are going to be creating a total of five (5) or less lots we typically say you should contact us at, or just before lock-up stage on the buildings. This allows enough time for us to do the surveying and complete the plan for your submission to  council prior to total completion. This also means that you can arrange the building surveyor and council inspection as soon as total completion has been achieved and thereby avoid any possible delay for the plan to be created.

What are Registered Building Surveyors?
Cottage & Engineering Surveys are cadastral surveyors and NOT building surveyors. Registered Buildings surveyors are qualified building inspectors who have been registered with the Building Commission WA. They provide the Certificate of Building Compliance (BA18) required for the application to council for the strata approval plus provide other certificates and services in relation to building. A list of Registered Building Surveyors can be found on the Building Commission’s website here.

When can I get my titles?
With a Built Strata, the plan can only be completed once ALL buildings are complete within the scheme. Once done, the plan is submitted to council for approval. The council then inspects the site for approval and only approves the plan when all work is complete. This means buildings, paving, landscaping and fencing.

Once approved, the Strata Plan can be submitted to Landgate and then titles applied for. Given standard time frames, it generally takes between 2 to 3 months from TOTAL completion to when titles can be issued.

How long does it take to complete the strata?
With a Built Strata the process to strata can be completed in as little as 3 to 4 months from start to titles. However, this is dependent on the state of completion of the buildings, as councils only approve strata plans once total completion has occurred.

What has to be completed before the council approves the strata?
Councils only approve strata plans once all work involved in the building is complete. This includes any work to comply with the plan and conditions of the development approval. This includes buildings, paving, landscaping and fencing.


Conversions & Mergers

Can I convert my strata to a Survey Strata?
Any Built Strata scheme that was registered (titles issued) prior to 1998, which is NOT a multi-tier scheme (where part of one lot resides above another lot such as flats) can be converted. This is a one off process, which does not require the approval of any statutory authority, but does require unanimous consent by all owners or other parties with an interest within the scheme.

Find out more about Conversions to Survey Strata.

What costs are involved in a conversion?
Normally the only cost involved in a conversion is the surveying cost. No authorities, other than Landgate and the Titles Office are involved. The existing titles are updated not replaced.

The fees for lodgement of the plan and documents at Landgate are included in our fees, as is the creation of the documents. Additional costs are only incurred if another consultant is involved, or a bank, which holds a mortgage over one of the titles, charges for providing consent or consideration.

Can I do a merger on my strata?
You can do a merger on a strata that was registered (titles issued) prior to 1998. This is a one-off process so you CANNOT do a merger on a strata plan which has already had one done on it. Also, you cannot do a merger on a strata plan that has been converted to Survey Strata.

What costs are involved in a merger?
Normally, the only cost involved in a merger is the surveying cost. No authorities, other than Landgate and the Titles Office are involved. The existing titles are updated not replaced.  The fees for lodgement of the plan and documents at Landgate are included in our fees as is the creation of the documents. Additional costs are only incurred if another consultant is involved, or a bank, which holds a mortgage over one of the titles, charges for providing consent or consideration.


Survey Strata

What do I own within the strata scheme?
Within a Survey Strata scheme you exclusively own the area designated as your lot on the strata plan. You also own a share of any common property lot within the scheme, which is denoted on the strata plan as CPX.

Do I have to have common property?
On a Survey Strata it easy to recognise common property as it is denoted on the plan as CPX. There may be none, one or many common property lots within a survey strata scheme. Common property lots are also denoted on the unit entitlement, or Form 3, where they are listed but have no unit entitlement, which is simply noted as common.

Will the subdivision interfere with my building?
Survey Strata should not interfere with construction in any way. The two processes can run parallel without interfering with each other. However, certain work needed for the Survey Strata may not typically be completed until the end of the building process. This may mean that if you are building and wish to complete the Survey Strata process at an earlier date, some work may need to be moved out of the normal building sequence.

When can I get my titles?
Survey Strata can be carried out at any time in relation to construction as it is based around vacant lots. It can be done before, during, or after construction. However, the application to WAPC for approval to subdivide includes a range of conditions. Once fulfilled, the subdivision can be completed and new titles obtained.

How long does it take to complete the strata?
In most cases the minimum time that is required to complete a Survey Strata is 6 months. Typically, we would expect a subdivision to take around 7 to 12 months from the start to titles, given there is no issue in completing on-site work to comply with the conditions.

What has to be completed before the strata can be approved?
All work has to be completed to comply with the conditions imposed on the subdivision by the WAPC, and must be completed before you can finish the subdivision and obtain new titles. Typically, this means connections need to be available to services (water, power, sewer etc.) and that the lots are either clear and ready to be built on, or that existing buildings comply with current building regulations.


Green Title & Amalgamation

I have multiple lots; can I build on them?
Where you have multiple existing lots and you wish to build on them in such a way that the building is over the boundary line between the lots, or you require the area of the additional lots in order to meet site coverage requirements etc., you will need to amalgamate the lots into the one lot.

Depending on your Local Authority, this may need to be done before they will issue a building licence. In other cases, arrangements can be made with the Local Authority to commence building prior to the amalgamation being completed.

Will the subdivision interfere with my building?
If you are intending to build while doing a Green Title subdivision, you might run into problems between the two processes. Firstly, if you are building a structure, which is not the sole residence on the current property, you may have issues getting a building licence issued if you have already applied to the WAPC for a Green Title subdivision.

Also, as the building is based on the existing parent lot, you need to ensure all services are connected directly within the proposed new lot and not via the rest of the property.

When can I get my title?
Green Title can be carried out at any time in relation to construction as it is based around vacant lots. It can be done before, during or after construction. However, the application to the WAPC for approval to subdivide includes a range of conditions. Once fulfilled, the subdivision can be completed and new titles obtained.

How long does it take to complete the subdivision?
In most cases the minimum time that is required to complete a Green Title subdivision is 6 months. Typically, we would expect a subdivision to take between 7 and 12 months to complete from start to titles, given there is no issue in completing on-site work to comply with the conditions.

What has to be completed before the subdivision can be approved?
All work has to be completed to comply with the conditions imposed on the subdivision by the WAPC and must be completed before you can finish the subdivision and obtain new titles. Typically, this means connections need to be available to services (water, power, sewer etc.) and that the lots are either clear and ready to be built on, or that existing buildings comply with current building regulations.

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