How Much Does a Land Survey Cost?
$375 - $744
$375 - $744
Updated February 24, 2022Reviewed by Robert Tschudi, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor.
Homeowners report that the average land survey cost is $504. This includes the price to hire a land surveyor, which ranges from $338 and $670. The total depends on the property's history, size, location and more, with some properties reaching costs of $1,000 or more.
These surveys effectively give you a legal description of the exact boundaries of where your property lines begin and end. They can save a lot of hassle and money in case of disputes because they are legally binding and professionally certified. They are also very helpful when you want to build or extend a fence, driveway, pool, or outbuilding (shed, garage, etc.).
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|Typical Range||$375 - $744|
|Low End - High End||$200 - $1,100|
Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 3,819 HomeAdvisor members.
Hiring a land surveyor costs around $524 according to the national average, but fees can range between $375 and $744, depending on the lot size, your geographical location, and the age of the lot.
Over time, the ground does shift slightly and monuments (items such as trees or rocks that were in initial documentation) may no longer exist. This is especially relevant in coastal and other waterfront properties. The professional will need to take these things into consideration when land surveying and may even have to reestablish boundary lines. Like all home projects, there are a variety of factors that can affect the final price.
Land surveys cost between $50 and $500 per acre, depending directly on the lot size, how wooded it is and how many property corners you need marked. The larger your estate and the more markings you need, the more you can expect to pay. However, with an increase in acreage, the rate per acre decreases. Rates also differ among professionals and regions, so there’s no hard-set, per-acre rate. However, for large parcels - those 5 acres or larger - most pros charge per square foot, which could run anywhere from $0.15 to $0.70 or more, or per hour, depending on the conditions and the availability of the title information.
|Acreage||Average Reported Cost|
|1/5 (average U.S. lawn size)||$400 - $700|
|Up to 2||$500 - $1,000|
|Up to 10||$500 - $1,500|
|Up to 20||$1,000 - $2,000|
|Up to 40||$2,000 - $5,000|
|Up to 80||$2,000 - $6,000|
|100 to 200||$3,000 - $10,000|
|200 to 350||$5,000 - $20,000|
Flat, clear parcels are typically less expensive than those with lots of underbrush or tree cover. The more difficult the terrain, the more expensive an assessment will be. Just like how the pitch of a roof can affect fees, so does the lay of your land.
Part of the professional assessor’s job is to research the property's deeds and other official records to compare with physical markers like fences and walls. If it has already been well documented, it will save time on the process, which ultimately saves money. Likewise, the farther the professional needs to travel to get to the location, the more you will pay.
Your area may require specific land survey documentation in the event of a sale. This largely depends on the title company, and the land surveyor must comply with their requests. Gathering and completing all documentation may increase the time it takes the surveyor to wrap up their survey. Documentation is an often-overlooked item when calculating land survey cost factors.
Your surveyor may request a neighbor’s or family member’s assistance if they find certain issues with your property’s specifics, including no survey completed within the past 40 years or their unfamiliarity with the land. You can give a neighbor a family member permission to assist, like showing the surveyor older property line markers. However, boundary lines are often necessary if a boundary dispute exists.
Survey markers, fencing, monuments, tree lines, or other readily identifiable markers should exist if the land has been previously surveyed. If these lines are not easily identifiable or the surveyor is unable to find them at all, you should anticipate the process taking longer (and possibly paying an additional fee) so the surveyor can reestablish the property’s original survey.
Sectionalized land surveys are more common in rural areas. Unlike standard land surveys, the surveyor surveys one square mile (640 acres) rather than just the property. At times, the surveyor may also need to survey other sections due to the parcel’s proximity to those included on government plat documents. The scope of this work will likely impart additional fees that vary widely from region to region, especially if these vast swaths of land include difficult-to-survey terrain.
While many properties include four sides, many others include additional sides, creating unique dimensions. Expect to pay about $50 per additional side. Properties with unique, complex dimensions impart additional costs, especially those on tough terrain.
Property surveys cost an average of $500 and range from $200 to $800. However, not all of them are created equal. There are several different types, each with its own use.
The price of a boundary survey is $100 to $600 on average. It is the most basic type that people get when they’re buying a home or pursuing a project. The professional establishes the legal boundaries and provides a legal description of them.
Different states have different requirements, but, if you are the buyer, it is to your benefit to get such a real estate survey in order to know exactly how much real estate you are paying for. Land surveyors often find defects that could lead to renegotiating the price of the real estate you are purchasing. Likewise, if you’re selling, it could give you valuable information to help appropriately price your home and property.
A topographic review ranges from $500 to $1,200 for a lot size less than 10,000 square foot. It locates both man-made and natural features such as streams, trees, elevations, fences and buildings. Governmental agencies, architects or engineers may require it before lot development. Rates will be higher for plots with significant topographical elements, like rivers and hills.
A mortgage survey is typically around $500. It pinpoints the boundaries of the plot along with locations of any buildings. Lending institutions and title companies often require it as part of the financing process.
While a boundary assessment is not always a requirement, you may need one if you plan to buy extended title insurance. Like a home appraisal, it can provide valuable information regarding pricing. Additionally, it’s helpful for buyers to be aware of details regarding local regulation. For example, it may not be legal to build a fence dividing your yard from a neighbor’s along the adjoining boundary line. Or, the driveway may encroach on a neighbor's space. A neighbor may have built a deck that extends over the borderline. You should address issues like these before you close a transaction.
Services for new construction can range from $1,000 to $2,000. There are several tiers involved in the process, and it will typically include boundary, topography, staking and location services at the least.
Getting a land study for fencing costs $250 to $1,000, depending on the lot size. Even if there’s already a fence in place, that’s no guarantee that you’re building on your property line. If you build over the line or–in urban areas–within the public “setback” boundaries, you may have to remove the fence later.
The typical rate for an ALTA survey ranges from $2,000 to $3,000. It is an assessment according to the standards of the American Land Title Association and is one of the most extensive options.
People typically get these services to qualify with a lender when they are purchasing a commercial property, though those purchasing residential properties may also get this thorough option to be sure that their property is accurately defined.
Lenders often require these surveys because they catch potential risks or issues that might otherwise change the details of the purchase agreement.
As-built surveys cost an average of $800 to $1,200, and price will depend greatly on square footage. For this service, the professional measures the exterior and interior of the home or structure to create a three-dimensional representation of it. The process involves using lasers to capture dimensions. This method is much more accurate than blueprints and plans.
The price range for a site staking report is $200 to $500. Professionals usually perform this service ahead of new construction. The professionals mark for structures that you’re building or installing such as buildings and roads. They will also designate slopes and prep locations for utilities and lighting.
Plot plans cost $75 to $200 and plat surveys purchased from the county cost $10 to $30. The two are very different from one another.
Plot: This is a designated parcel of land which is a property of its own, such as that for a home.
Plot Plan: This design lays out structures and buildings which exist on or will exist on the plot. It is not meant to be as accurate as a land survey.
Plat Survey: This is a legal document that shows the area around the plot as well as the plot itself. It clarifies where streets, other plots and easements are and how your plot fits into the bigger picture.
As a property owner, if you’re planning to build a structure, consider having an assessment prepared to define the plot before outlining any possible improvements (garage, pool, patios, house, drive, etc.) to ensure they don’t encroach upon a neighbor's property. Even if you get along with your neighbors, anecdotal evidence of boundary lines can be murky at best. At worst, you might find yourself in court with a neighbor over something that you’ve placed on territory that may or may not be yours.
It’s also important to know that local laws can dictate how close you can build to boundary lines regardless of whether you have neighbors. Local ordinances determine these restrictions, or “setbacks.”
Garages & Driveways- Making improvements or extensions that are outside of your building limits can cause future problems. For example, if part of your property contains an easement - a portion of land where service companies have access rights - you shouldn’t build anything to interfere with that space. If you do, the service company could demand you remove it.
Patios & Decks - You may have more or less area to work with than you think. Before you build an expansive deck or even a small patio, have your boundary lines defined so you know exactly what you must work within.
Vertical Additions - Some municipalities require a post-construction survey when an additional story is added to a house, to verify that the constructed height is within a few inches of what was approved/permitted.
One of the most important steps to finding a land surveyor in your area is speaking with a few local professionals and getting estimates from at least two. Like any home improvement project, getting multiple estimates is the best way to find competitive prices.
Check credentials. Most states require these professionals to have licensing and insurance.
Make sure they work on your terrain. The more complex your project, the more experienced the assessor should be.
Read surveyor reviews and ask for references: The cheapest pro isn't always the right one. If you want the results to hold up in court or in case of a real estate transaction, the reputation of the professional is paramount.
Surveyors do more than locate property lines. But if you request additional services from your pro, expect to pay additional fees. The average hourly fee for professional surveyors runs from $120 to $150 per hour for additional services like:
Boundary line adjustment
Provide legal boundary line descriptions
Create maps of individual plots
Locate and pinpoint utility lines
In addition to doing your homework on the surveyor, there are a couple of things you can do to make the process simpler, which could reduce the amount you. For example, you could provide the pro with a past record of your plot and your deed, if possible. Additionally, clear the area around your property lines to give the professional easy access.
A land survey, in the simplest terms, defines the boundaries of your plot. It is an assessment performed by a professional. When it comes to house renovations and custom home builds, the primary role of a local assessor is to find these lines. Homeowners should hire someone specialized in determining boundaries especially when looking to build a house or expand an existing one. The boundary pre-defined in legal documentation helps locate the edge of the property on-site and mark it, so the property owner knows exactly what he or she owns.
A free or cheap land report may not give you the most reliable information. To get one for free, you can do it yourself, but the results won’t be official or recognized. With a cheap option, the individual you hire may:
Get off-schedule and delay the project or buying process.
Miss important and expensive problems or errors.
Make detrimental mistakes in their report.
Have poor customer service skills and bad reputation.
Lack proper licensing or insurance that would make them liable for the results.
Lack experience needed to work with other parties involved, like contractors and lenders.
If you’re thinking about buying, building, or adding onto your property, it’s a good idea to have an assessment done to define the dimensions of your lot. Otherwise, you have no recourse should questions arise about property corners and boundaries during or after the building or buying process.
During the buying and selling process, closing costs typically include land surveying. The party responsible for paying differs from state to state, and the laws can change. However, in most cases, the buyer pays for the service or the responsibility is negotiable.
While the below table offers a reasonable idea of what to expect, call your local title insurance company to verify who is responsible in your state.
|Negotiable||Buyer Pays||Seller Pays|
|New York||New Mexico|
How long a land survey lasts is a question of how long the professional's liability lasts. That is how long the professional will defend the document if it's challenged. The length of time varies among states, but typically lasts 5 to 10 years from the time of completion.
Residential services usually take less than a day to complete, but it will take one to two weeks for the professional to finish the documentation. Some companies offer rush services of two to five days.
Mapped property lines
Outlined improvements to the plot and topographical features
Mapped easements or service entrances that cross the plot
Marked areas where other properties infringe on the boundary
To read the official document, it’s best to lay out the illustrated map on a flat surface and reference your written documentation as-needed. Important elements to note are:
Address: The address on your paperwork should match that on your deed.
Legend: Symbols on the legend indicate such elements as boundaries, utilities, easements and roadways.
Scale: The scale will indicate how measurements on your map correspond to actual measurements.
Sealed certificate: The professional will have signed and sealed an official certificate on the map.
Written survey: This will contain all information pertaining to the official findings, a legal description and disparities/changes between the previous documentation and the current results.
If you simply need to determine your price per square foot or if you’re satisfying your personal curiosity, you could assess your own plot. You'll need legal documents describing your land, which can be difficult to locate if your property is older or if there hasn't been a review completed recently. Before getting started, gather the supplies you’ll need, which include:
Metal detector (set to find metal at 1-4” deep)
Steel or metallic woven tape
A GPS receiver (optional)
Based on the legal document you've gathered, find one of your plot’s boundaries. Then, measure the distance along the lines indicated on the real estate deed. Mark the line every 15 to 20 feet with metallic tape, keeping it level as you go. When you find the property corner, or the end of your boundary, turn and continue along the next side until you complete the entire parcel of land before measuring the square footage. Although this is a doable project, it isn’t without its challenges. Most properties have steel rebar rods driven into the soil at each property boundary. Once you know the approximate area of the boundary, a metal detector (and a shovel) is a quick way to find the buried rods.
Assessments conducted by an amateur aren't legal documents, and you cannot use them as part of a property sale.
Without professional certification, the buyer can challenge the boundaries in court.
It's difficult to get detailed information like overlaps, easements and rights-of-way that pros can access.