A land survey provides you with a legal document that defines the boundaries of your property. To get a land survey, first you need to own and have access to your property deed. The next step is to hire a land surveyor. A land survey is provided by a professional who is properly trained and has typically been certified by the state in which they are providing services. Make sure the land surveyors you contact have the appropriate licensure from your state licensing board, and look for reviews by previous customers. You can call several land surveyors, provide them with information from your deed and receive estimates for total job cost. The surveyor you hire will research the deed plats for your property before coming out to the site to measure the land against existing information. The land surveyor will provide you with a report detailing your property lines, which will help you resolve any issues regarding property rights, new construction, easements or future property sales.
If you want to clarify your property lines, are starting new construction, have a property dispute with neighbors, or want to identify the location of easements on your land, hiring a land surveyor will provide you with legal proof of the physical facts of your property. Land surveyors’ costs are often quoted by the foot, and can vary depending on terrain (hilly and rocky land is harder to survey than flat land), density of vegetation (thick trees make access as well as GPS difficult), the quality of the title information available, and more.
For example, a land surveyor’s cost could range from 50 cents to 70 cents per foot on average for surveying large boundary areas. This price can increase if you want your land surveyed to outline where a future fence will go, as it requires the land surveyor to stake out the property line at set intervals. This increases the amount of time and labor for the job. Land surveyors may also charge a minimum service fee. If you have a small parcel of land, the surveyor will need to recoup their business expenses for travel to the site, their specialized equipment, and their time and effort. For example, one land surveyor’s minimum cost is $650. This includes surveying a lot under one acre in a platted (mapped) subdivision. The surveyor will set property lines, mark property corners as needed with survey flags, perform limited courthouse research, and provide a certified, stamped survey drawing at the end.
The time it takes to get a new land survey really depends on your property and the quality of the existing deeds. Before the physical survey even begins, land surveyors must research and review the deeds and plats for the property that you want measured as well as information about the properties that surround your land. Some of this information may be available online, and some may have to be accessed through the local courthouse. Making a trip to retrieve physical deeds can prolong the survey process by a few days or more. The quality of the deeds can also affect how long it takes land surveyors to complete their job. If any of the deeds have conflicting information, the land surveyor must do research to determine when property lines changed and find proof of their current legal status. Then, land surveyors visit the property they are working on and record physical evidence of property lines (iron stakes, fence lines, walls), and carefully compare this with data and records from the courthouse as part of the compilation of the survey drawing. The process may take one day or up to two weeks or more, depending on property size and access to the necessary information. More time-consuming research affects the overall cost for land surveying.
Land surveying is a means of measuring land and is commonly used in new construction planning, new fence planning, boundary or title disputes, insurance requirements, or when subdivision of land into plots. People commonly ask land surveyors to help mark property corners and boundary lines, set landmarks, and provide surveying maps and CAD drawings. Land to be surveyed can be any size, from under 5,000 square feet to five acres and beyond. A property’s zoning type may be residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural and can be set in an urban, rural or suburban area. Many factors affect the cost of land surveying such as topographic considerations, property title, previous surveys, jurisdiction, surveying methods used, vegetation and more.
There are many reasons you might need to have your property surveyed. Trained land surveyors provide this professional service and are generally licensed through state regulating bodies, so when looking to hire someone make sure they are properly licensed. The national average cost for a land surveyor is $450-$630, although costs can range much higher depending on land size and other factors. Often land surveying costs are on quoted on a per-foot basis, such as 50 cents to 70 cents per foot. A land survey should be able to help you:
- Define legally recognized property boundaries.
- Resolve property line disputes.
- Verify that an existing building, fence, or driveway is on your property or a property you plan to purchase.
- Verify that a feature in question (creek, tree, etc.) is within the boundaries of your property or a property you plan to purchase.
- Prepare for construction of a fence, pool, or building that is in close proximity to a neighbor’s property line.
- Determine whether you are in a designated flood zone.
The national average land surveyor’s cost ranges from $450 to $630. You may need a survey on a house if you have a dispute with a neighboring property owner or there are questions raised during a property sale. A land survey can determine whether a building that currently exists on your land, or a house or building that you intend to construct on your land, is completely confined by your property lines. Area zoning laws also may require that you have a survey done prior to starting construction on a house to ensure you meet building requirements such as building a minimum distance from the street. You may also want a survey on a house that you intend to buy or sell, or that you currently inhabit, to determine if it is in a designated flood zone. This may provide you with legal support when applying for assistance from government bodies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).