how much does a land survey cost and why get one?

as a homeowner, it’s important to know where the boundaries or edges of your property are and where other people’s property begins, so you may be considering a land survey. this is common to do before you put up a privacy fence, or if you’re just curious where, exactly, your property lines end. your land survey cost will depend on several factors, but it can be well worth it to help you locate flood plains, find locations for oil wells or septic tanks, or determine your terrain. this way, you can continue your project or transaction without being afraid of not knowing exactly where your property lines are. 

there are laws, rules, and regulations that dictate how close to your property lines you can build, excavate, or drill, so paying a land survey cost is usually money well-spent to help you avoid legal trouble down the road. it can also help you maximize the price of your home and land, and you can map out important features like gas or water lines before you start digging so you don’t accidentally hit them and cause a bigger headache that takes more time and money to fix. 

the property shape, size, survey type, how challenging your property is to access, and the terrain will all factor into your total land survey cost. the national average is a slightly broader range that starts at $400 and goes up to $1,200. if you want a land survey for mortgage purposes and you have a standard-sized plot of land, the average land survey cost is right around $600. if you choose to use existing deeds and have a well-groomed lawn, your land survey cost is around $300 for a single-boundary survey. to put four new boundary markers in a multi-acre plot and get a topographical drawing of the space, you can easily pay up to $6,000. 

however, you’ll end up with a legal description of your exact boundaries where the property lines end and begin. this can help prevent disputes and save money because these surveys are professional certified and legally binding. if you’re curious as to what your land survey cost is, you can use this comprehensive guide to get a rough estimate. 

1 surveying a wooded area
when it comes to your land survey costs, a thickly wooded area will cost more than a clear-cut piece of land because there are more obstacles that hinder the sight lines.
land surveying by david bosshard / cc by-nc 2.0

land survey cost by different types of surveys

there are many types of surveys you can get, and you’ll want to decide on which survey you want before you start. the most common surveys are done for homeowners who want to outline their plot boundaries. a boundary survey is one of the most common ones, but it’s basic. if you plan to split your lot, sell your house, or if you need detailed information, you’ll need a more in-depth survey. the amount of work involved will dictate the land survey cost for each type. 

alat

better known as a land title survey, and is one of the most comprehensive surveys you can get. the american land title association sets the standards for this survey. it’ll show everything about your land, including waterfront locations, topographical information, septic, utilities, flood plains, wells, and other features. you can pay the land survey cost for this detailed one if you have a land title dispute. 

they use older records or markers to get a base boundary when two people are claiming the same section of land or fighting over boundaries. the length of the job and property size will dictate your land survey cost, and it can range between $1,500 and $4,500. it can take months from start to finish. 

as-built

maybe you want to build a structure on your current property. if so, this is the survey to have. they’ll only survey the land where you want to build. then, they’ll create drawings of the new structure, and this will tell you how close you’ll get to utilities, property lines, and septic tanks. if the new structure negatively impacts any of these items, the survey will show it and you can adjust accordingly. on average, the land survey cost for this type ranges from $600 to $1,500. 

boundary

this is the most common and simplest survey available. it’ll mark out the four corners of your property, and it’ll also showcase the property lines. so, if you want to erect a fence, you’ll need this survey to show you where your property lines end and your direct neighbor’s lines start. if you’re building an extension or addition onto your home, you’ll need this survey to show you how close you are to your property lines. 

for a single boundary, your property survey cost will be around $100. on average, the price fluctuates between $450 and $600, but it can go up to $10,000, depending on your property’s size. 

elevation

if you want an elevation certificate, you’ll need this type of survey. many people choose to get this survey if their homes are on a flood plain because it determines how much of your property could get damaged or negatively impacted by a flood. you’ll need an elevation certificate for flood insurance in some cases. this will increase your land survey cost by $350 to $450, and this brings your project total to $800 to $5,000. 

hydrographic

these are different from a traditional land survey, and they get used to study the bottom portion of a body of water like your pond, river, or lake. if you have a lakefront property and want to build a dock, you’ll need this survey. they require gps and other electronics, so this makes them more time-consuming. the surveyors usually charge per day instead of size because some projects are more labor-intensive. you’ll pay between $800 and $1,000 a day for this land survey cost. 

lot

if you want a survey before you sell your home, a lot survey is the way to go. it’s also called a subdivision or mortgage survey. this survey will help you define your property’s boundary lines, septic tank location, flood plains, utilities, and the well location. depending on your lot size, the land survey cost will range from $400 to $1,2000. 

mortgage

before you get a loan to buy a property, you may need a mortgage survey. this will help to identify your lot’s size and shape, boundary lines, and generalized information regarding flood plains, wells, utilities, and the septic tank’s location. depending on how long it has been since the last survey and whether or not there have been major changes, this might not be a necessary requirement. on average, you can expect your land survey cost to range from $450 to $600, and this includes elevations. 

plat

this is a drawing that your surveyor will create from looking at your lot’s survey. you can do it as a base for a subdivision plan that details the different lots, or you can do it before you buy one plot of land. this drawing will mark your interior and boundaries, and it can detail the land’s shape, access points, and features. most properties have one of these maps, and surveyors can use it in future surveying projects. expect your land survey cost to range from $800 to $1,200. 

staked

for anyone who plans to have any construction done on their property like building a garage or shed, you’ll need a staked or construction survey beforehand. the surveyor will stake off every corner of the building in this survey before surveying the land directly around it. if your home has four corners, this is a simple task. however, properties with 20 or 30 corners or jobs that require indents on the building’s exterior can be much more complex. the more corners you have, the higher your land survey cost will climb. it has an enormous price range that starts at $200 and goes up to $2,000. 

subdivision

for people who live in a subdivision, you’ll want to know any shared areas or right of ways you have, and this is especially true if the houses are packed closely together. the surveyor will mark the boundaries and look for existing information to mark out. so, if your property blocks a neighbor’s driveway, this survey would point out that you have right of way access to go through their property to get to your home. your land survey cost will start at $300 and go up to $450 per lot. 

topographic

maybe you have a larger property and you’re curious as to what you can find on it. if so, a topographic survey can help. the surveyor will survey your entire plot and draw in water, hills, canyons, and cliffs. this survey will also show feature locations and the plot’s shape and size. you’ll pay anywhere from $400 to $10,000 to complete this survey for the average cost range. the larger your property is, the higher your land survey cost will climb. 

2 types of land surveys
deciding which type of survey you want to have done will have a big impact on your final costs, so it’s essential that you pick one out when you first start budgeting for it. if you don’t, you could end up paying way more than you originally bargained for.
img_6246 by hugo chisholm / cc by-sa 2.0

price of a land survey by size

once you decide on a survey type, it’s time to price it out by your plot size. a heavily wooded lot that doesn’t have sight boundaries that are easily defined can cost more than a clean-cut area. the shape of your plot also factors in, and rectangular or square lots are usually more cost-effective than oddly-shaped ones. the more acres you do, the more companies will lower the price per acre. the land survey cost for a single acre can range from $500 to $1,000. however, when you clear 80 acres, you’ll pay between $65.00 and $75.00 an acre for the survey. 

½ acre lot

a standard-sized lot is a ½ acre or less, and most surveyors charge a flat rate. the survey will include buildings, boundary markers, driveways, and the boundaries needed to create a standard drawing. if you do your survey in the winter on a clean-cut lot and have documents that show your last survey price will cost less than overgrown lots or areas that have not had a survey in decades. your land survey cost will range from $400 to $700. 

1 acre lot

when you hit one acre, you have more space for your surveyor to cover. it takes far less time to survey a lot with clear boundaries than it does one with blurred boundary markers, and this will influence your total land survey cost. you most likely won’t have the entire lot fenced in or cleared, and this adds to the complications. expect to spend between $500 and $1,000 for this size. 

5 acre lot

per acre, you’ll typically pay less for five acre lots than you would a single acre lot. when you hit this size, it’s relatively easy to find the documents, borders, and any existing paperwork, and these are big considerations of land survey costs. you’ll usually pay an hourly rate at this stage, and it averages out to $300 to $400 per acre and $1,500 to $2,000 from start to finish. 

10 acre lot

your land survey costs start to go down again when you hit the 10 acre lot mark. pulling out the existing paperwork and finding borders with deeds is quick. the physical work is what defines the price and finding the boundary markers. per acre, you can expect to pay between $250 and $300 an acre with costs totaling out at $2,500 to $3,000. 

40 acre lot

if you have a “forty,” you have a 1/16 of a “section” or a 40-acre lot. it’s common to divide it up into smaller land parcels, and the surveying process is complicated if you haven’t had it done before at this size. you will still get a discount per acre, and the average price works out to be around $150 an acre. since more forties are rough estimates that can fluctuate between 38 and 40 acres, your total land survey cost falls between $6,000 and $8,000. 

80 acre lot

you’ll see a sizable cost drop in your land survey cost when you hit 80 acres. the prices are around the same for surveying 40 acres because they usually contain two forties. you’ll need a survey to sell them together. the prices start at $75.00 per acre, and this works out to $6,000 to $8,000. 

100 acre lot 

finally, a 100 acre lot will help you get a large cost reduction per acre when it comes to your land survey cost. the boundaries will be larger, but it doesn’t take much time to pull the old boundaries and existing deeds to the land. all the surveyor will have to do is find the boundary markers before sighting the lines, and it’s around $65.00 an acre to do so. the total project cost falls between $6,500 and $9,500 form start to finish. 

price for redrawing property lines

if you currently don’t have a property boundary line copy, you’ll want to do a plat survey. the surveyor will redraw a plat map that displays your property lines. they’ll then enter them as a public record and file it with your local assessor’s office. if you want your property lines redrawn, they’ll add the new plat map to the filing. on average, you’ll pay between $800 and $1,200. if you want to divide your property, buy more property from your neighbor to build a porch or patio, or you have a dispute, do the same thing. 

labor costs and surveyor fees

you can dig out an old surveyor map of your property and use them to find existing boundary lines or markers, but you’ll need to bring in a licensed surveyor if you want to use the results on legal documents or in court. you’ll typically get an estimate after the surveyor finds out the scope of the project. for up to ½ acre, most will charge you a flat fee from $400 to $700. if the surveyor finds something unexpected, the land survey costs can go up from this usual flat fee. there are two popular ways to price out the labor costs, including: 

  • estimated total – you’ll get a rough idea of your survey costs with an estimated total. once they complete the survey, you’ll get a final cost. this will detail your service breakdown, and you’ll usually have 10 to 15 days to pay. the surveyor will include the timeframe and what they think they’ll need to finish the project. the final price could be higher or lower at the end, and it’s good to use this on larger properties. 
  • lump sum total – you’ll give your surveyor the basic details on your property for this type of survey, and they’ll look at your property before totaling up the cost. you’ll pay the full cost when they do the survey, and you’ll know the exact land survey cost upfront to budget for it. 

3 labor costs
factoring in your potential labor costs by project size will give you a realistic total for the project cost. once you hit a certain size plot, the costs can actually go down due to discounts. standard lots are usually a flat rate fee system.
dylan surveying by hugo chisholm / cc by-sa 2.0

the average costs for a mortgage survey ranges from $450 to $600, and this includes existing buildings and elevations. if you want new markers put in, budget for $150 per marker. a more complex survey has a starting cost of $900. 

most surveyors charge you an hourly rate for their services, and this is what they use to determine an estimate for the final land survey costs. the average rate for labor ranges from $175 to $250 per hour for your surveyor to come out. two surveyors may split the land if you have a very large property, and you’ll pay $175 to $250 per surveyor. however, having two people usually makes the project go quicker so you shouldn’t see a huge price increase for two people over one. 

additionally, your surveyor can do more than find your property boundaries. you will have to pay additional fees if you request more services from the surveyor, and they typically charge between $20.00 to $25.00 per hour for the following additional services: 

  • adjusting boundary lines
  • create individual plot maps
  • locate and pinpoint your utility lines
  • provide legal descriptions of your boundary lines

boundary line adjustment costs

if you sell a small part of your property or buy an adjoining plot of land to build a shed, you’ll have to adjust your boundary line. so, you’ll need another plat map. you’ll have to have a full survey too, and the total land survey cost is between $800 to $1,200. you should get a new one each time you sell or buy property around or in your current land parcel. 

tree survey costs

maybe you have a large piece of land that comes loaded with trees. if so, a tree survey is a possible option. this survey is very detailed, and it will help you determine which tree species you have on your land. it’ll also outline their locations. depending on your land’s topography and size, the land survey cost for this type starts at $200. it can go up to $6,000 or more if it’s a very involved survey or difficult location. 

fence land survey cost

if you’re looking at cheap fence ideas, you’ll have to ensure that it’s on your property. most fences will get installed one or two feet inside your property line to ensure you have no disputes going forward. you want to conduct a boundary survey before you start this project to ensure there are no issues. you can get a single boundary line or go around your entire property. for a single boundary line survey, you’ll pay around $100. if you want to fence in your entire property, the land survey cost jumps to $400 to $700 for a standard ½ acre lot. 

where to find land surveyors near you

do you want a land survey of your property? maybe you’re going to purchase a property and the bank or lender requires one before they okay funding. whatever the reason, you should compare two or three local companies to get the best land survey cost estimates. you can start here: 

frequently asked questions

4 land surveying faqs
asking the correct questions when you talk to your local surveyors will help them understand the scope of the project, and this can help you get a more accurate estimate to build a budget around.
img_9922 by hugo chisholm / cc by-sa 2.0

1. what information will you get on a residential report?

if you choose to get a residential report, it’ll tell you everything you need to know about the property. the report will outline your boundary lines, wells, septic tanks, waterfronts, buildings, and driveways. 

2. how long will your property survey last?

your property survey will last as long as the surveyor’s liability will last. this basically means that it’ll last as long as the professional that drew it up will defend it if it gets challenged. the time will vary from state to state, but the average range falls between five and ten years. 

3. when should you have a land survey done?

it’s important to have a land survey done before you make changes to your property, before you sell it, or if you have a dispute with your neighbors over the property lines. 

4. does the buyer or seller cover the land survey cost?

which side pays for it during a sale will vary. usually, the seller has to pay for it because it’s on them to provide the correct documentation. some mortgages require the buyer to get one before they’ll approve funds for the purchase. 

5. where do you get a copy of the land survey for your property?

go to your local land records or building inspector’s office. many counties keep surveys on file at your local city building inspector’s office. you can get surveys connected to your tax maps from the land records office. ask for the county assessor. 

bottom line

there are a variety of factors that go into determining your land survey cost, and we outlined them for you in this post. you can pick out a type of survey and your lot size and see how your land survey costs stack up. once you get a rough estimate, you can call local companies and see which ones offer you the best deal for the survey you need. 

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