So you’ve been reading Nigerian property advertisements where prices like “7million naira per square meter” are quoted and you can’t help but wonder just how large is a plot of land in square meters? How does a plot compare to an acre? What is the difference between an Acre and a Hectare of land?
The first question you ask your agent or developer is ‘What is the size of the plot?’
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In Nigeria today, there are two standards of measurement used – the imperial (Feet; Acres) and the metric (Metres; Hectares). Your audience determines what units you will discuss with them. Artisans, omo oniles and tradesmen understand the imperial system (inches and feet) while professionals and highly lettered people tend to converse in the S.I units (mm, cm, meters). These measurements are dynamic as they can be affected by several factors ranging from environmental to human factors.
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Standards and Measurements
A plot is an arbitrary term used to describe a land division made in a particular area by the developers or government for the purpose of building or farming.
According to Nigeria’s land division, 50 x 100ft is the appropriate size for a plot of land suitable a house construction that can accommodate a standard house with a small compound. This size can vary for different reasons.
For a better understanding of Land divisions used in Nigeria, consider the different units of measurements used as follows:
A hectare, measuring 100m x 100m Or 328ft x 328ft Or 10,000sqm, is the least known metric unit. It is about two and a half acres consisting of 15 plots. Prospective buyers and Estate developers often times are at loggerheads on what the unit should be.
An acre, almost the equivalent of a standard football field, is the standard unit of measurement popularly used by land sellers. It is the product of any rectangular plot of land giving a total of 4,046sqm Or 43,560sq ft. An acre consists of 6 plots each measuring 60 x 120ft. One Acre is roughly 40% of a hectare.
Variations in Measurements
Land location, possession, and circumstances leading to a transaction have been the major factors for the variations in measurements seen in land sizes in Nigeria.
Initially, plots were approximately 1000sqm but as prices for land went up you get the same quote per plot but this can be 400sqm or less in government reserved areas in Lagos, Kano, Kaduna and few other states.
New layouts in Calabar offer up to 1,100sqm for commercial plots.
For places in the core Niger-Delta where land issues are very touchy, you’d be lucky to get anything above 450 sqm.
Of course there are states that partition with 60′ x 100, 60′ x 120, 80′ x 120 etc. Normally a corner piece gets more width.
In Lagos State, the standard size of a plot is 60 x 120ft (18m x 36m i.e. 648sqm), while in some other cities of the country, plots are measured in 50 x100ft.
In Edo State and Port-Harcourt, the standard measurement is 50ft x 100ft.
In Abuja, plots allocated by the FCTA come in different sizes and you cannot say a plot of land in Abuja is always 60′ X 120′.
It is general language and half-informed professionals that use plot loosely to mean any delineated parcel of land. But as far as real property is concerned the above holds true. Anything higher is the surveyor wounding seller, anything less is wounding the buyer.
Land Sizes and Purchase Considerations in Nigeria
Due to variations in size, a plot can be 648Sqm or 850Sqm or 1,200Sqm. One should always make it top priority to ask the land vendor what the size of the plot for sale is in Square Metres before proceeding with any transaction.
It is important to be conscious of the shape of the piece to be purchased so as not to buy a slanted/ Inclined one. The more square in shape, the better the use.
There are government gazettes for certain areas so buy land only through a lawyer. It is advised is to buy land in an estate, to avoid some Government and indigenes [omo-nile] issues.
For plots that may not be rectangular, it is crucial to take the surface area of the plot. Either you do your measurements from the map of the area physically or you get the actual dimensions from the plan, always make sure the values are same with what the seller offers you. It is advised to measure the land as against to taking the face value from the seller.
So when buying land, visit the place, take a tape measure and determine the surface area of Square meters then divide by 10,000 to know whether what is indicated on the title deed/Certificate of the lease is correct (Usually appears in Ha.)
On legality and documents; if it is a Certificate of Lease as opposed to Title Deed for freehold land, check how many years are remaining on the lease before committing your money, mortgage companies are very particular on this one.
The location should also be considered. Usually, access road tends to reduce the overall available land area.
Land Measurement By Professionals
The primary methods used for land measurement by surveyors are the theodolite, total station, and RTK GPS survey. There have been some levels of improvement in remote sensing and satellite imagery making it cheaper and allowing for more use commonly. Three-dimensional (3D) scanning and use of lidar for topographical surveys are new technological improvements experienced in this field.
The leading professional body in the Nigerian real estate industry that coordinates the affairs and dealings of Surveyors in Nigeria is NIESV (Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers).
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A surveying professional is called a surveyor. Surveyors work with elements of mathematics (geometry and trigonometry), physics, engineering and the law. They use equipment like total stations, robotic total stations, GPS receivers, prisms, 3D scanners, radios, handheld tablets, digital levels, and surveying software.
In Nigeria, the ministry was formerly called Federal Ministry of Works and Surveys, which has since transformed to Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and later became Federal Ministry of Works.
As a potential buyer, you should keep in mind that in any urban planning environment, plots are made up of different sizes to allow for different types of use either residential or commercial.
Also, land sizes in Nigeria tend to vary depending on the state it is located. Whatever the measurement, it is better to have more plots of land than more numbers of cars or jeeps in Nigeria. Sharp accuracies in meters and the need for perfection should not be the reason for missing a well-located land.