How much does it cost to survey a land?
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Land Survey Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
Most homeowners conduct surveys before any transaction or project. This may mean having a survey done before selling the property, building a fence, or erecting a new building. Laws govern how close to a boundary line you can build, drill, or excavate, so this step ensures you follow the correct rules.
Many factors impact your land survey’s cost, including the type, property size and shape, terrain, and how difficult the property is to access. With these variations, the national average cost ranges from $400 to $1,000 for a single-boundary survey of 1/2 acre or smaller property with existing deeds. For most homeowners, a land survey done for mortgage purposes on a standard-sized one-acre lot costs $600. You can have a single-boundary survey done on a well-groomed yard, working off existing deeds for around $200. A 40-acre plot with four new boundary markers and a topographical drawing costs about $6,000.
Average Cost to Survey Land
|Land Survey Prices
|National average cost
What Is a Land Survey?
A land survey is required to determine the location of property lines and features on a property. They are the only way to know where one piece of land ends and another starts. While property disputes are less common today than in the past, it is still crucial to know who owns which plot.
Land surveys are drawings that show the boundaries of a property and provide dimensions and locations of site improvements and buildings on a property. Many options are available based on the type of property and its legal description.
Homeowners may require one for several reasons, including settling disputes about boundary lines, determining property lines, getting title insurance, and meeting the requirements of a mortgage. They are also useful for locating utilities and easements, updating outdated surveys, or building a home or another structure.
When arranging a property survey, homeowners should research land surveyors in their area. Every state has a society for professional land surveyors. The National Society of Professional Surveyors has a list of all surveyors to make finding a professional simple.
Land Surveying Cost per Acre
Many variations go into calculating the cost of land surveying per acre. A densely wooded lot without easily defined sight boundaries costs more than a clean-cut lot. The plot’s shape also impacts the cost. Square and rectangular plots are easier to survey and cost less per acre than oddly shaped lots.
Many companies lower the cost per acre the more acres you survey. A single-acre boundary survey costs $500 to $1,000. When you reach 80 acres, you will pay around $75 an acre and $65 an acre for 100 acres. Topographic land survey costs are often identical because most work is similar in scope and time, with only different equipment.
Every company has its own method of calculating price, with most starting with a flat fee that goes up to ½ acre. After that, costs per acre decrease.
|$200 - $700
|$500 - $1,000
|$1,500 - $2,000
|$2,500 - $3,000
|$6,000 - $8,000
|$6,000 - $8,000
|$6,500 - $9,500
Survey 1/2 Acre
The residential survey cost range to complete this type of service on any property up to a ½ acre is around $200 to $700. If you survey a standard-sized lot, meaning ½ acre or smaller in size, most surveyors charge a flat rate going up to ½ acre. This includes boundaries and making a standard drawing, including buildings, driveways, and boundary markers. Costs still vary for this survey. Those done in winter, on well-groomed land, and those with recent documents showing a previous record cost less than an overgrown lot that has not been surveyed for decades.
Survey 1 Acre
The cost range for surveying one acre is vast, costing from $500 to $1,000. At one acre, you have more space for the surveyor to visualize. A well-groomed lot with clear boundary markers takes much less time to survey than an overgrown lot with boundary markers that have changed. Many homes with one-acre lots may not have the entire lot cleared or fenced, making it more difficult for the surveyor. The same variables apply to smaller lots. Surveying in the winter, on a well-groomed lot, or on a lot that has recently been surveyed is generally less expensive.
Survey 5 Acres
The hourly rate for jobs of this size usually translates to $300 to $400 per acre or $1,500 to $2,000 for the entire job. Larger properties of five acres often have a lower survey cost per acre than a single acre. At this size, finding the borders, documents, and existing paperwork is easy. This is considered when pricing the job. However, the physical work takes time.
Survey 10 Acres
At this point, the costs approach $250 to $300 per acre. This makes a range of $2,500 to $3,000 for the job. Costs drop again at ten acres for the same reasons. Finding the borders and pulling the existing paperwork and deeds takes the same amount of time for ten acres as for one acre. The only item left is the physical work of finding the boundary markers.
Survey 40 Acres
The average cost to survey 40 acres is $6,000 to $8,000, with costs starting at $150 an acre. A “Forty” is an assumed 40 acres or 1/16 of a “section.” This is a common size to divide large parcels of land. At 40 acres, surveying becomes more tricky if the 40 has not been surveyed before. Most forties are rough estimates, which may be 38 or 42 acres. There is still a per acre discount, but it is not as big of a jump.
Survey 80 Acres
Costs to survey 80 acres are around $6,000 to $8,000, starting at $75 per acre. At 80 acres, a sizable drop in costs occurs, with prices being about the same as for 40 acres. Parcels this size tend to contain two “forties.” To be sold together, they have likely been surveyed. While it is not inconceivable that your 80 acres are actually 78, it is probably accurate.
Survey 100 Acres
For 100 acres, costs start around $65 an acre. The job has a total cost range of $6,500 to $9,500. At 100 acres, you receive a significant cost reduction in the cost per acre for the job. While the boundaries are larger, all the initial work, such as pulling the existing deeds and old boundaries, takes the same amount of time and costs the same as smaller properties. So, all that is left is to find the boundary markers and sight the lines.
Land Survey Price by Type
There are many types of surveys. The most common services are conducted for a homeowner who wants to know more about their plot. This is often a boundary survey, although if you plan to sell your home, divide your lot in half, or need detailed information about the topography type, you could require a different type. Each type of land survey has different costs, most of which are dictated by the amount of work involved:
|$200 - $2,000
|$200 - $2,000
|$300 - $400/lot
|$400 - $700
|$420 - $1,000
|$450 - $600
|$500 - $1,200
|$600 - $1,200
|$600 - $2,000
|$800 - $1,000/day
|$2,000 - $3,000
A property line survey cost begins at $200 but can go up to $2,000, depending on the property’s size. This is the simplest and most common type of survey. It marks the four corners of your property and outlines the property lines. For example, if you want to put up a fence, you need it to show where your property ends, and your neighbor’s begins so that you do not accidentally build the fence on someone else’s property. When adding to your home, you may need a boundary survey to determine how close you are to the property lines.
Most staked surveys cost $200 to $2,000. If you have any construction done, you need one. With this, every corner of the building is staked off, with the land surveyed around it. A home with four corners is fairly easy, but custom properties with 20 or 30 corners with jobs and indents on the building’s exterior can be a very detailed job to mark them correctly. For this reason, staked survey costs can have an enormous range. The more corners you have, the higher the costs.
Depending on the number of buildings, subdivision surveys cost $300 to $400 per lot. The average subdivision lot is just under ⅕ of an acre but can be much larger, depending on your area. If you live in a subdivision, you may need to know about any existing right of ways and shared areas, particularly if the houses are built closely together. In a subdivision survey, the boundaries are marked, and existing information may be uncovered. For example, if your property blocks your neighbor’s driveway from the road, they may have a right of access through your driveway to reach their property. This kind of information is typically unveiled during this process.
A plat survey with the map costs between $400 and $700. This is a drawing made from your lot’s survey. It can be done for what will become a subdivision, drawing up the various lots involved, or it can be done before purchasing a single plot of land. The map you get marks the boundaries and interior. It can describe access, the land’s shape, and any features it has. Most properties have a plat map, which surveyors can use in the future to check on boundaries and other features.
Known by various names, a lot survey costs between $420 and $1,000, depending on the lot size. It may be a type of mortgage survey that your lender requires before purchase or a type of subdivision survey. Usually, it is a bit of both. This is most commonly done on lots in a subdivision. They include boundary lines, flood plains, septic tank location, well location, and the lot’s utilities.
Mortgage surveys cost around $450 to $600, including elevations. Depending on how long ago the land was surveyed, your bank may request one before granting a loan. This identifies the plot’s shape and size, boundary lines, and general information on wells, flood plains, septic tank location, utilities, and more. This may not be necessary unless major changes have occurred on the property. Typically, a surveyor reads property records before beginning to find this out.
Topographic surveys cost about $500 to $1,200. The costs per acre fall as the property gets larger. If you have a large property and want to know what can be found on it, you may want a topographic survey. With this, the entire plot of land is surveyed and drawn, including hills, water, canyons, and cliffs. A topographic survey results in a detailed map of your property, showing feature locations and the plot’s size and shape.
As-Built surveys cost $600 to $1,200. If you plan to build a structure on your property, it is advised and sometimes required to have an as-built survey done. In this, the land where the structure goes is surveyed. Then, drawings are made of the new structure, showing how close or far the structure is from property lines, utilities, wells, septic tanks, and other features. If the new structure negatively impacts these, this review shows that.
Elevation surveys add between $600 and $2,000 to the cost. An elevation survey is one that has been submitted for an elevation certificate. This means that specific drawings are done so that an elevation certificate can be issued. If your home is in a flood plain, this service can determine this and to what extent your property may be affected by a flood. To get flood insurance, you need an elevation certificate.
Expect to pay between $800 and $1,000 per day for a hydrographic survey. These are different from land surveys. They are used to survey the bottom of a body of water, such as a lake, river, or pond. A hydrographic survey is needed if you have water on your property and want to build a structure such as a dock on it. These are time-consuming and require GPS and other electronics to locate and map the bottom. The costs are usually per day, rather than by size, because some rivers or lakes are more time-consuming to map than others.
A land title survey cost ranges from $2,000 to $3,000, depending on the property’s size and length of the job. It is not uncommon for a thorough ALTA survey to take months to complete. The ALTA is the most comprehensive survey, following the minimum standards set forth by the American Land Title Association (ALTA). This shows everything about your land. It notes boundaries, topographical information, the location of waterfronts, flood plains, utilities, septic, wells, and any other features.
It can be done if there is a dispute on the land’s title, meaning that two or more people may claim to own a section of land if it borders two properties. In this case, the title survey is conducted across the three sections to determine and assess the true owner. Usually, old records and markers make a clear picture.
Cost to Have Land Surveyed by Purpose
The reason you are having a survey done affects its cost. For instance, a survey undertaken before buying a home is likely to have a different price than the yard survey cost for redrawing property lines. The prices vary based on how in-depth the service is performed, how large the property is, and any extra information that is included.
|Buying a House
|$200 - $800
|Selling a House
|$250 - $850
|$400 - $700
|Finding Utility Lines
|$800 - $1,200
|Redraw Property Lines
|$800 - $1,200
|$1,000 - $2,000
Survey Cost for Buying a House
The average price of land surveying when buying a house is $200 to $800, with an average of $500. The price moves upward as the property becomes larger or includes additional corners. Acquiring an updated boundary survey should be done before closing. In many cases, a property survey is required by lenders to ensure that the property is worth the amount that the lender is providing to the person selling the home.
Survey Cost for Selling a House
When selling a house, the average price runs about $550 but can range from $250 to $850. As with buying a home, this depends on the location, shape, and size of the property. This is especially important for large acreage properties, where there may be hazards on the land or for boundary confirmation. It can also be used to note easements on the deed or provide evidence of new properties on the plot.
Sometimes, when a home is being sold, a land surveyor will show up to the property of their own accord. The surveyor may show up and knock on your door or may simply start surveying the property on their own. This is most often the case when a bank is conducting its own survey. Unfortunately, the lender used by the buyer cannot use this at purchase time since there may have been improvements to the property since that time.
Land Survey for a Fence
A single privacy fence between you and your closest neighbor costs about $100. However, to fence your entire property, the average cost for a boundary survey up to a ½ acre is $400 to $700. If you want to put up a fence, it must be on your property. Most fences are installed a foot or two inside the boundary line to ensure no neighborly disputes. To be absolutely sure that the fence is on your property and not on your neighbor’s, conduct a boundary survey. Boundary surveys for fences can be conducted on a single boundary line or around your entire property.
Find Utility Lines
The price of land surveying for someone who wishes to know the location of utility lines ranges from $800 to $1,200. This is typically done through an as-built survey that creates a 3D rendering of your home to determine how much space is available for an additional structure. Lasers are used to create a 3D model of the inside and outside of a home.
Redraw Property Lines
On average, it costs between $800 and $1,200 to have lines redrawn. If you do not have a copy of your boundary lines, have a plat survey done. This includes drawing a new plat map, which shows your property lines. Any survey of your property enters public records and is filed with the assessor’s office. If you redraw your property lines, the new plat map is filed with the assessor’s office.
If you have a dispute over your lines or want to divide your property or acquire additional land from your neighbor, the same thing is done. A new plat map is made of your property’s new boundaries and filed with the assessor’s office.
New Build Survey
For new construction, the real estate survey cost runs from $1,000 to $2,000. The total price depends on the property’s size, location, history, and more. Several factors go into the process, causing the price to be higher than a simple survey situation. In many cases, boundary, staking, topography, and location services will be provided during the process.
Land Surveyor Fees
While you can find old surveyor maps and use them to locate existing markers or boundary lines, you need a licensed professional to produce results that can be used for legal documents or in court. Land surveyors typically charge by the job after getting basic information. Many charge a flat fee for jobs up to ½ acre.
Your surveyor may price the job in one of two ways. The first one is lump-sum. In a lump-sum survey, you provide the basic details to the surveyor, and they look at the property before giving you the cost. You pay the entire cost at the time of the service. This is beneficial because you know exactly what it costs upfront.
The other way is an estimate. In an estimated proposal, you get a general idea of what the survey costs. After completion, you get the final bill, which includes the breakdown of services. Typically, you have 10 to 15 days to pay. In the estimate, the surveyor includes what they think is needed and the time to complete it. Because this is an estimate, the job could cost more or less in the end. This is beneficial if you have a very large property with many unknowns.
Surveyor Cost per Hour
Many surveyors charge an hourly rate. They use this to determine the basic amount they expect the work to cost. This is why so many professionals start with a flat rate. They know that the work does not take less time than this and can feel confident with this pricing.
The average surveyor rate per hour is $175 to $250 per professional. Two surveyors may work together if you have a larger property, and you pay this rate per person. Having two people often cuts the total time in half, so your total costs for the job should not go up.
Who Pays for Land Survey, Buyer or Seller?
Depending on the state, land surveyors may be paid by the seller or the buyer. This is based on state regulations for each location. Some states make it a requirement for the buyer to pay the fee. Others require the seller to do so. Various stages make the process negotiable.
Below is a list of who pays in each state in most cases. However, some states have exceptions. For instance, in Kansas, the buyer may be responsible for the survey, but in other cases, the cost will be split between the buyer and seller. On the other hand, Alaska is negotiable, but the buyer will pay in most cases. The list below provides information about which party is required or most commonly chosen to pay this cost.
- Negotiable: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming
- Buyer pays: California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington
- Seller pays: Alaska, Illinois, Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma
How Do I Read My Property Survey and Map?
Knowing how to read a property map is essential for anyone buying a parcel of land or a building. The survey has information about the zoning, boundary lines, and utilities on and near the property. When you know how to read the plat, it gives you insight into what rights you have as a landowner.
The survey consists of both a written report and an illustration. The latter is a map of the area that was surveyed. The illustration should be placed on a large surface with the written information nearby. The legend will be set in one corner of the map and indicate utility lines, structures, borders, and walls.
A compass will be included to show which way is north. The boundaries of the property will include distance and bearing, the latter of which is a series of degrees, minutes, and seconds with compass points. This gives information about how far from a boundary line each point is located.
The plat shows items including the overlapping and physical boundaries, the location of utilities (such as electrical, gas lines, water pipes, cable, telephone lines, and utility poles), and lakes, streams, and other types of water. Other noted items on the plat will include buildings, modifications, repairs, structural improvements, and shared sidewalks, driveways, and fencing with other property. Driveways and roadways in the area and existing points of entry or egress for the property are also included.
A scale will be located near the legend to represent distance. It also helps to orient through the use of a vicinity or location map, showing where the property is compared to a larger location.
The written document contains legal information and surveyor comments. It may also include property measurements, information about easements, property improvements made in the recent future, and an indication of whether the property is commercial or residential.
Factors That Affect the Cost of a Land Survey
Many factors come into play when pricing a land survey. The size and shape of the property are essential to assessing your land. The property measurements are important for guiding any future construction projects that take place on the land. A simple rectangular parcel of land will have a lower price for surveying than a parcel with a unique shape or irregular size.
Another of the determining factors related to cost is how accessible the land is. If it’s simple to get to, its price will be lower. On the other hand, if it takes several rides to get to it, the price starts to rise. Another factor that plays into this is how far the property is from the land surveyor’s office. Time of year also affects accessibility. For instance, a land surveyor who needs to work in the ice and snow or during the extreme heat of summer may put a premium on their services since it’s less comfortable to do the work at those times.
Surveyors appreciate finding existing items on the land that show the previous survey is still accurate. This can include trees, monuments, stones, fences, woods, and more. When these things are found, it is easier to modify the initial record instead of starting from scratch.
The terrain can also affect the price. Bumpy terrain and mountainous regions are more difficult to survey. On the other hand, a level piece of land will be simpler, and you can expect a lower price for that work. The trees across the land can make a land survey take longer. In some cases, items will need to be removed to get a full picture of what your land is holding.
As a way to make things simple, they will ask for any existing records you have available. If these are present, it can cut time and make the cost of land surveying less expensive. The most important record is the plat that shows a division of the land. In some situations, a new plat needs to be created. This adds fees to the typical surveying charge. Previous land transactions are another record to provide a land surveyor. These verify how past owners have handled legal records. These factors impact the price of land surveying.
How to Find Property Lines?
If you need to know your property lines, they are most likely available in two places. The first is on the deed to your home. They should be mentioned in clear terms, including any markers left by the last surveyor. You can also find the property lines on the plat map filed with your local assessor’s office or planning office. Every property must have a plat map showing the plot’s details and property lines.
If you think this information is incorrect or cannot locate either document, hire a professional to do it. They may pull the plat maps of all adjoining and nearby properties and visit the site to determine your current property lines.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Boundary Line Adjustment
If you sell a portion of your property or purchase an adjoining parcel, you need to adjust your boundary line. To do this, you need to draw a new plat map. This map is filed in the assessor’s office and shows your lot’s new lines. This costs between $800 and $1,200 and includes a full survey.
If you have a large plot of land filled with trees, you may wish to do a tree survey. This more detailed survey determines the different species of trees on your land and provides their locations. Depending on the land’s size and topography, this can be a simple survey costing $200 or extremely difficult and involved, costing $6,000 or more.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Legal issues. Land surveys are legal documents expected to be upheld in a court of law. If your surveyor was negligent or did not mark your boundary correctly, they may be held liable in a court of law. Hire a professional to do your surveying because conducting your own shifts liability to you. Most land surveyors carry liability insurance for this reason. Always ask if this is the case before hiring someone.
- Technology. The vast majority of surveyors now use electronic measuring tools, including GPS, to locate your boundaries and survey your plot. However, there are times when dense tree cover makes it difficult to use GPS, in which case tape and a compass may be used. GPS typically makes the process faster and less expensive than other methods.
- Additional services. Some land surveyors do more than find the boundaries of a property. However, if you plan to ask for additional services, you can expect to spend more money in the process. For additional services like finding and pinpointing utility lines, creating maps of plots, creating legal boundary line descriptions, and adjusting boundary lines, you can expect to pay from $120 to $150 an hour.
- Age of the survey. If you find that a survey was done recently but is out of date, the original surveyor can recertify the information rather than having a new one conducted. Recertification costs roughly 25 to 50% of a new survey’s total cost.
- Documentation. If the surveyor cannot find documents regarding the property line or if the property is older and has not been surveyed recently, having people who can guide the surveyor toward old markers can speed up the process. This is also the case if the surveyor can get the plat maps for adjoining properties.
- Surveyor qualifications. All states have their own requirements for licensing land surveyors. In most cases, the licensing requires a standard education, passing an exam, and a minimum level of experience. Many states also require a surveyor to participate in continuing education to retain their license.
- How long does a land survey last?
This depends on the survey and its purpose. If there have been no changes to the plot, then a new one should only be needed when selling a property or if changes are planned.
- When should you do a land review?
Any time you sell your property, plan on making changes to it, or if there is a dispute between you and your neighbor.
- How much does it cost to subdivide land?
The cost to have a surveyor draw new plat maps for each subdivision is between $300 and $400.
- What are the costs to have property lines marked?
This varies depending on your property’s size. Expect a range between $200 for setting boundary lines in ½ acre to $9,500 for 100 acres.
- What does a residential land report include?
A residential land report includes everything about the property. This includes boundary lines, waterfronts, septic tanks, wells, utilities, driveways, and buildings.
- How much does a survey cost when buying a house?
This varies depending on the house’s location and property size. Most people pay between $200 and $800.
- How to get a copy of a recorded land survey?
A land survey can often be procured from the official records at a land recorder’s office or a building department’s office. Depending on location, it may also be provided by the nearest tax assessor office. Title companies can also assist with finding the information.