TerraModus Surveying provides professional, friendly and cost-effective surveying services throughout Far North Queensland. Based in Cairns, TerraModus Surveying is a small surveying consultancy that specialises in land surveying, engineering surveying and construction surveying.

TerraModus means "earth measurement" and that is precisely what we as surveyors do.

Our business and staff are well qualified to provide quality and timely survey solutions in urban, rural and remote locations throughout the Cairns region and Far North Queensland. The company is Registered with the Surveyors Board of Queensland to provide surveying consultancy services and is endorsed by the Board to perform Cadastral (land boundary) and Engineering Surveys. The company is also fully accredited with the Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) in recognition of our high standard of land boundary surveys.

We can provide surveying services for large or small, long or short term projects. We pride ourselves in adopting the highest professional standards with an emphasis in customer service. All surveys are performed with due diligence and in accordance with current professional standards, practice and principles. We can assist you in a range of surveying services including

  • boundary identification surveys;
  • land subdivisions;
  • lease, easement and covenant surveys;
  • strata titling surveys;
  • contour and detail surveys;
  • construction set-out;
  • as-constructed surveys;
  • control surveys; and
  • monitoring well location surveys.

We perform surveys in all areas of Far North Queensland including, but not limited to, Cairns, Ingham, Tully, Innisfail, Mareeba, Kuranda, Atherton, Herberton, Ravenshoe, Dimbulah, Chillagoe, Port Douglas, Mossman, Daintree, Cooktown, Cape York and the Torres Strait. We are happy to provide obligation free quotes for your required survey work.


TerraModus Surveying offers professional surveying advice and services in Cadastral (Land Boundary), Engineering and Construction Surveying as identified in the following table.

Cadastral Surveying Engineering Surveying Construction Surveying
Land Surveys i.e. Subdivisions Contour & Detail surveys Set-out incl. buildings & footings
Boundary Identification surveys As Constructed surveys Pile set-out and calculations
Lot re-configurations Control surveys Road construction set-out
Building Format surveys GPS surveys  
Volumetric surveys Monitoring surveys  
Lease surveys Monitoring well location  
Easement surveys    
Covenant surveys    
Road Resumptions    


The following are some brief definitions of the types of surveys and when you may need them.

Land Surveys

A cadastral (land boundary) survey defines the limits of your block of land and defines the interests and sub-interests (such as easements, leases and covenants) in a piece of land. Survey marks (such as pegs) are placed to show the location of the property corners.

You need a cadastral survey performed to

* check where your existing land boundaries are (known as an identification survey);
* subdivide your land into two or more lots and have separate titles issued;
* create interests in land such as provide easements for access over parcels of land or to lease a section of land.

Cadastral surveys are regulated by the Survey and Mapping Infrastructure Act 2003 and its regulations and standards. Cadastral surveys performed must produce and lodge a survey plan with the Titles office in the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) which forms part of the public record. Cadastral surveys also must legally identify any encroachments on these plans and provide written notification to the owners of the affected parcels. Cadastral surveys, including Identification surveys, can only be performed by surveyors registered to do so with the Surveyors Board of Queensland to ensure the integrity of our land administration system (including your land boundaries) is maintained.

Identification Surveys

An identification survey is a type of cadastral survey that identifies where the property boundaries of a title are located. An identification survey re-marks property corners (as marks may have been destroyed over time) and verifies property boundaries in relation to any improvements to make sure they are not encroaching onto the neighbouring parcel of land. Your parcel of land is probably one of your biggest investments so it is recommended to know where your boundaries are and therefore what you own.

Identification surveys are highly recommended when you

* purchase a property (to know the extent what you are buying);
* build a fence (so you can build on the boundary and therefore ensure you and not your neighbour are using all your land);
* build any structures on or near property boundaries; or
* want to check for any encroachments.

Contour and Detail Surveys

Contour and Detail Surveys show the shape, features and services of a piece of land and are usually performed for design purposes prior to construction. Features usually include any visible manmade structures (i.e. existing buildings, sewer lines, stormwater lines and fences) and natural features (i.e. trees, creeks and embankments). Services searches are also performed to provide an indication of the location of services underground/not visible. These surveys are also often requested by the local council for an assessment on the suitability of an application for development when the land is steep, heavily vegetated or contains existing infrastructure requiring location. For urban parcels, the entire lot is usually surveyed while for large rural parcels, a contour and detail survey is often only required over the area where development/building is proposed.

It is highly recommended to have both a contour and detail survey and an identification survey performed prior to building on a property, especially if any structures are to be built on or near the property boundaries.

Set-out Surveys

Set-out surveys are used as a guide for construction and involve placing marks (i.e. pegs, stakes, nails in concrete) where structures are to be built. However often in the course of construction these marks will be destroyed and so offset marks are often placed. Surveyors are often required at various times during a construction project to set out concrete slabs, footings, columns, utilities, roads etc.

It is advisable to have a set-out survey performed to assist the relevant trades during construction and ensure items are built according to the design and within the property boundaries.There have been many cases in Queensland where houses/structures have been constructed over property boundaries. This often results in large costs and legal issues to rectify these situations.

As-Constructed Surveys

An as-constructed survey locates all items constructed on a property and is usually performed to demonstrate the items have been constructed in accordance with the approved design. These surveys are performed soon after the construction is completed and are common for land developments, such as new estate subdivisions, to demonstrate the infrastructure constructed (like roads, water pipes, sewers) meet local government requirements.


Q: Where does TerraModus Surveying perform surveys?

A: TerraModus Surveying is based in Cairns but performs land surveys throughout Far North Queensland. We are happy to travel to the job. We perform surveys throughout the Cairns region, Atherton, Mareeba, Herberton, Ravenshoe, Dimbulah, Chillagoe, Innisfail, Mission Beach, Tully, Ingham, Cooktown, Cape York, the Torres Strait etc.

Q: What is a Registered Surveyor?

A: A Registered Surveyor is someone who has been assessed as being competent to perform surveys by the Surveyors Board of Queensland. Apart from being Registered with the Board, surveyors are assessed to specialise in areas of surveying including cadastral (land) surveys, engineering surveys, mining surveys and hydrographic surveys. Surveyors and Surveying companies wishing to consult with and perform surveys for the public are also required to obtain a Consulting endorsement. TerraModus Surveying is a Registered Surveyor with consulting, land survey and engineering survey endorsements.

Q: What is a Licensed Surveyor?

A:  The term Licensed Surveyor is no longer current in Queensland. The correct term, by legislation and through the Surveyors Board of Queensland, is a Registered Land Surveyor also known as a Cadastral Surveyor. It has the same definition as Licensed Surveyor but the term Registered was introduced to also recognise the other surveying specialties such as Engineering Surveyor and Hydrographic Surveyor. Land Surveyors or Cadastral Surveyors are still the most common surveyor. TerraModus Surveying is a Registered Land Surveyor and a Registered Engineering Surveyor.

Q: Why use a Registered Surveyor?

A: By using a Registered Surveyor you know they have been assessed by the Surveyors Board of Queensland as being competent in their area of expertise. Today to be deemed competent surveyors are required to complete a four year Bachelor of Surveying Degree (or similar) and further complete surveys/projects to demonstrate their competency (usually takes a minimum of two years) as well as have a professional interview with the Surveyors Board. Surveys performed by Registered Surveyors are carried out in a professional, competent manner meeting the appropriate current legislation, standards and guidelines.

Registered Surveyors are required to adhere to a Professional Code of Practice and are also required to demonstrate their competency each year through continual professional development. Registered Surveyors with a Consulting Endorsement can consult with the public and they have been assessed in business practices and carry the appropriate professional insurances.   TerraModus Surveying is a Consulting Surveyor and carries all the appropriate insurances (including professional indemnity and public liability) to perform engineering and land surveys.

To protect the Queensland Titling System and land cadastre only a Registered Land Surveyor can legally carry out land surveys such as land subdivisions and boundary identification surveys. Registered Land Surveyors are the only surveyors who can sign survey plans for lodgement in the Queensland Titles Registry.

Q: What type of survey do I need?

A: There are many types of surveys including land surveys (such as subdivisions, boundary surveys, leases and easements), engineering surveys (such as contour and detail surveys) and construction surveys (such as building set-out). TerraModus Surveying is well qualified to perform all these types of surveys. Our list of Services includes some brief definitions of different types of surveys. However, we do not expect you to know what type of survey you require - if you can let us know what you are trying to achieve and why you want the survey performed we will be happy to assist you with all your survey requirements.

Q: How long will the survey take?

A: The time to complete the survey depends on the type of survey, location of parcel where the survey is required, size of the parcel, previous survey work in the area and type of vegetation on the parcel. For example a boundary identification of a small parcel of land in Cairns city can often be performed in the field in one day and the entire survey service including preparation, searches, plan drafting and quality assurance may only take one week. Whereas a rural subdivision in heavily vegetated country may take several days or even weeks in the field and several days in survey preparation, searches, plan drafting and quality assurance.

Q: How much will the survey cost?

A: The cost of the survey depends on many factors like how long the survey will take. Cost depends on the type of survey, location of survey, size of parcel, previous survey work performed in the area and type of vegetation on the parcel. TerraModus Surveying is happy to provide a free, no obligation quote for your survey requirements. We believe we offer cost-effective surveying services and our survey costs can be itemised. Government searches, materials required for the survey, accommodation and meals (if required) are charged at cost and therefore keeping your costs to a minimum. If you would like a quote please contact us - you can provide your details through our Contacts form.

Q: How do I read my survey plan?

A: Your survey plan has been prepared by TerraModus Surveying Pty Ltd in accordance with the current surveying legislation and guidelines. The plan displays the purpose of the survey and the intended actions of the lot/s of land, such as a land subdivision. The plan is a legal document representing the field survey performed and administrative details associated with the parcel of land. The terminology and abbreviations used can make survey plans difficult to interpret.

The survey plan shows the boundaries of the lot/s and interests (such as easements) in the form of bearings and distances. An area will also be displayed for each lot or interest. The bold lines represent the subject lot/s being surveyed and the other lines show the extent of the survey and adjoining information. Adjoining information to your lot/s, including lot on plan descriptions and street names, is shown on the survey plan to clearly identify where the parcel lies in Queensland. Recognisable survey marks, usually survey pegs, have been placed at each new corner unless it was physically impractical to do so. These survey marks are displayed on the survey plan at each corner or by a statement noted on the plan. An example of such a statement is “Peg placed at all new corners”.

Original survey marks (i.e. recorded on a previous survey plan) are noted on the plan with the abbreviation “O”. For example OP is an original peg and OIP is an original iron pin. Permanent Marks and Reference Marks are placed by surveyors to facilitate future surveys and this information is used by surveyors and available by through survey searches with the Queensland Government. These marks are placed near the corner (not at the corner). Common reference marks are Iron Pins, Nails, Drill Holes, and in rural areas blazed trees. Existing fencing is known as occupation and is usually shown as a way of reference to the corner. An example is "Cen RFP 0.1N" means the centre of a round fence post is 0.1 North of the corner. We are happy to provide an information sheet with your survey plan.

Q: Where should I build my fence?

A: Fences are usually built on the boundary. To find out exactly where your boundary is you should employ a Registered Land Surveyor, also known as a Cadastral Surveyor. A land surveyor will identify your boundaries, place survey marks at the corners and prepare an identification survey plan as a record of the survey. The Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act 2011 provides an avenue for you and your neighbour to share the costs of building a fence and can also assist neighbours in resolving disputes about dividing fences and trees. The Act relates to constructing and repairing fences that divide adjoining land, and generally under this legislation owners of adjoining land not separated by an adequate fence can be liable to contribute equally to the cost of a dividing fence, including the cost of a boundary identification survey. For further details you should refer to the Housing and Neighbours section on the Queensland Government website or contact a solicitor. The Dividing Fences Act 1953 has been repealed.

Please note if you build your fence and it encroaches onto the adjoining land you may be required to remove it. We recommend having a boundary identification survey performed prior to erecting a fence.

Q: Where do I lodge my survey plan?

A: You need to lodge your survey plan (SP) and any associated documents into the Queensland Titles Registry in the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM). There is a fee to lodge your survey plan (SP barcoded plans). Documents can be lodged between 8:30am and 4:30pm on business days at the following Departmental Service Centres - Beenleigh, Brisbane, Bundaberg, Caboolture, Cairns, Gold Coast, Gympie, Ipswich, Kingaroy, Mackay, Maryborough, Nambour, Rockhampton, Roma, Toowoomba and Townsville. The Cairns Service Centre is located at William McCormack Place II, 4th Floor, 5B Sheridan Street, Cairns. Ph: (07) 4222 5478.

Identification survey plans  (IS barcoded plans) are deposited into the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) by TerraModus Surveying on your behalf. There is no fee to lodge these plans as there is no transaction into the Titles Registry, just a public record of the survey performed and the marks placed. You are provided with a copy of the plan.

It is important to note that the original survey plan MUST NOT be bent, creased, marked, stapled or damaged (otherwise it may not be accepted by the Department). The plan may be loosely rolled. The survey plan must be lodged into the Department within 6 months of endorsement by the local council (if required).

Q: Do I receive a survey plan with a boundary identification survey?

A: Yes, by legislation a Registered Surveyor must provide an identification survey plan indicating the marks placed as part of the boundary identification survey. This is to create a public record of the survey in the survey records of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) and to ensure land surveys are carried out by Registered Land Surveyors. This protects you and your neighbours (including future neighbours!) by providing evidence the marks placed are your boundary marks and were placed by a qualified surveyor with the appropriate insurances. TerraModus Surveying will prepare an identification survey plan as part of your boundary identification survey and it is included in the fee.

TerraModus Surveying is a small Cairns based surveying consultancy who specialises in cadastral and engineering surveying. The company is Registered with the Surveyors Board of Queensland to provide surveying consultancy services and is endorsed by the Board to perform Cadastral (land boundary) and Engineering Surveys within Queensland. All staff performing field surveys are also Registered with the Board.

The company staff are active members of their industry association, the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI). The Managing Director of TerraModus Surveying, Eddy Picco, has also been Certified as a Spatial Professional by the Institute.

>SBQ Logo PositiveSurveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)

TerraModus Surveying is committed to providing professional services of the highest standard in the most cost-effective manner that satisfies the client's requirements.

The company's survey work, experience and quality management systems have been assessed by, and TerraModus Surveying has been registered with many organisations as a preferred supplier to perform surveys for them including:

  • the Queensland State Government Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), Department of Public Works and Housing (DPWH), and Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) for the Provision of Surveying Services;
  • the Local Government Local Buy Procurement for Surveying Services;
  • Queensland Rail (QR) for Cadastral Surveying Services;
  • Ergon Energy Consultant for Minor Survey Works;
  • Cairns Regional Council under their Panel for Providers of Consultancy Services; and
  • Cassowary Coast Regional Council Pre-qualified Service Providers.

TerraModus Surveying's high commitment to performing cadastral surveys and producing quality survey plans has been recognised by both the Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) and the Surveyors Board of Queensland. TerraModus Surveying is a fully accredited surveying firm with DNRM which means your survey plan will have a fast-tracked process to registration in the Titles Registry.