2022 Land Survey Cost | Average Rates Per Acre

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

Homebuyers are typically aware of the appraisals and inspections required in order to purchase a house. Oftentimes, there is an additional assessment needed in order to close the deal. If you’re planning on buying a house, you may also have to get a land survey – also referred to as a property survey or location survey.

While they’re traditionally used to determine the boundaries or edges of your property, they can also be used for locating septic tanks, oil wells, and determining terrain.

The average cost of a land survey is $800, and it costs $550 per ½ acre. Homeowners spend an average of $5,250 for a boundary land survey and $350 for a subdivision land survey. Some land surveyors charge a flat fee of $500 for land that is less than ½ acre.

These surveys are important for obtaining a legal description of the precise boundaries of where your property lines start and end. They are incredibly beneficial in saving you both money and hassle in case any disputes arise, as they are professionally certified and legally binding.

Continue reading for our comprehensive guide on land survey costs, so you can have a more well-rounded understanding of how to properly budget for this essential home assessment.

What is a Land Survey?

In simplest terms, a land survey defines the boundaries of a plot of land. It is performed by a professional in order to locate, describe, mark, and map out the corners and boundaries of a parcel of land. The survey may also include the topography, in addition to the location of buildings and other enhancements made to the parcel. Land surveying can be described as the science of taking large measurements.

If you’ve ever seen someone with a tripod, odd-looking stick, and a hardhat standing at the side of a road or property, you’ve likely seen a land surveyor. In short, the process involves basic geometry to measure angles and alignments. Surveyors use high-tech equipment to gather data to help with construction projects, land development, and generating accurate maps.

When it comes to custom home builds and home renovations, the main role of a surveyor is to locate the boundary lines. It’s important that homeowners hire an individual that specializes in determining boundaries, especially when the goal is to build a house or expand an existing one. The boundaries are pre-defined in legal documentation, which helps the property owner know exactly what he or she owns.

Is a Land Survey Required?

In most cases, a current land survey is required by mortgage lenders in order to determine the boundaries and contents of the land they are financing. That way, they can accurately ensure it’s worth the funds they are lending to you. If you don’t plan on using a mortgage loan to finance the purchase and instead want to buy your new home with cash, you can typically avoid getting a land survey and the cost that comes with it.

Simply referencing a legal description may not be sufficient to determine a property’s boundary lines. By hiring a land surveyor, you can meet certain requirements for buying or enhancing real estate or simply finding out your property lines for your own reference. Some reasons for getting a land survey include:

  • Finding utilities
  • Locating property lines
  • Obtaining title insurance
  • Meeting mortgage requirements
  • Knowing exactly what you are buying
  • Building a house or other structure
  • Locating easements
  • Updating an outdated land survey

Overview of Land Survey Cost

Generally speaking, the cost of a land survey will depend on the property’s size, location, history, type of land survey, the price of hiring a land surveyor, and more. The average cost of a land survey is $600, which includes the cost to hire the surveyor. You can expect to spend between $400 and $1,200 and costs could be as low as $300 or as high as $6,000, depending on the aforementioned factors. Though, hiring a land surveyor may also be cheaper or more expensive based on the age of the lot, the lot size, and the geographical location.

Average Cost$600
Average Range$400 to $1,200
Low-End Cost$300
High-End Cost$6,000

Land Survey Cost Per Acre

There are a number of variations that go into determining the cost of land surveying by the acre. For example, a heavily wooded lot that doesn’t have easily defined sight boundaries will usually cost more to survey than a clean-cut, well-maintained lot. Generally speaking, the larger the estate and the more markings required, the more you’ll pay for a land survey. The shape of the plot can also influence the cost, as square or rectangular plots are much easier to survey and cost less per acre than awkwardly-shaped lots.

Depending on the company that you hire, the price per acre may go down with an increase in acreage. Since rates differ based on region and professionals, there isn’t really a hard-set rate per acre. However, for parcels five acres and larger, most professionals charge by the square foot which could run anywhere from 50 to 70 cents, or more. Or, they may charge by the hour depending on the conditions of the property and the availability of the title information.

Regardless, a single-acre boundary survey usually costs between $500 and $1,000 to survey. Every company has its own way of determining prices, with most beginning at a flat fee that goes up to ½ acre. After that point, the costs per acre go down. The table below outlines the average costs for a land survey per acre.

Land Survey Per AcreAverage Cost
½ acre$400 to $700
1 acre$500 to $1,000
5 acres$1,500 to $2,000
10 acres$2,500 to $3,000
40 acres$6,000 to $8,000
80 acres$6,000 to $8,000
100 acres$6,500 to $9,500

Cost to Survey ½ Acre

Surveying a standard-sized lot, or a lot that is ½ or smaller, most professional surveyors charge a flat rate that goes up to ½ acre. This rate includes determining the boundaries and making a standard drawing that incorporates boundary markers, structures, and driveways. The cost of this survey still may vary depending on the conditions.

For instance, a survey done in the winter on a well-groomed plot of land with recent documentation outlining a previous survey will usually cost less than an overgrown land that hasn’t had a land survey done for decades. The range to complete a survey on ½ across of line, or any property up to ½ acre, is between $400 and $700.

Cost to Survey 1 Acre

Like a ½ acre land survey, surveying 1 acre tends to have a relatively big cost range. Of course, with one acre there is more space that the surveyor must visualize. A well-maintained lot with well-defined boundary markers will take much less time to survey than an unkempt lot with boundary markers that haven’t changed. Oftentimes, homes on one-acre lots don’t have the entire lot fence or cleared, which can make the surveying process a bit more difficult.

The same variables that apply to standard-sized lots apply to one-acre lots. Therefore, surveying in the winter months on a lot that is well-groomed, or a lot that has been surveyed recently will usually be less expensive. The costs to survey a one-acre lot are typically somewhere between $500 and $1,000.

Cost to Survey 5 Acres

Larger properties on five acres of land usually have a lower cost per acre to survey than one acre. For parcels of this size, it’s usually easy to locate borders, documents, and existing paperwork. Of course, the physical work of surveying will still take time and you’ll have to pay a per hour rate for the surveyor. This typically translates to a basic cost of $300 to $400 per acre, or between $1,500 and $2,000 for the whole job of surveying a five-acre plot of land.

Cost to Survey 10 Acres

For similar reasons, the costs decrease at 10 acres. Determining borders and locating existing deeds and paperwork will take the same amount of time for a 10-acre plot of land as it does for a one-acre plot. All that’s left in this case is the hourly rate for the physical work of finding boundary markers. Generally speaking, the hourly rate is usually $250 to $300 an acre, which translates to between $2,500 and $3,000 to survey a 10-acre plot of land.

Cost to Survey 40 Acres

A “Forty” refers to an assumed 40 acres, or 1/16 of a “section,” which is a common sizing used for dividing up parcels of land. At 40 acres, surveying becomes a bit more challenging if the forty has never been surveyed in the past. Most forties are considered to be rough estimates and could be between 30 and 42 acres in actuality. Although there still is a per-acre discount, there isn’t much difference. The average cost to survey 40 acres is between $6,000 and $8,000, with costs per acre starting at $150.

Cost to Survey 80 Acres

In most cases, at 80 acres a pretty substantial drop in costs occurs. In fact, the prices tend to be roughly the same as they are for 40 acres. Parcels of this size usually consist of two “forties.” In order for them to be sold together, they most likely had to be surveyed. While it’s not unimaginable that the 80 acres you own are actually 78 acres, it is probably exact. The average cost to survey 80 acres (or two forties) is between $6,000 and $8,000, with costs starting at $75 per acre.

Cost to Survey 100 Acres

At 100 acres, the cost reduction in the cost per acre is more significant for the job. Although the boundaries are larger, all the initial work required, like obtaining the existing deeds and old boundaries, will take the same amount of time and cost the same as it does for smaller plots of land. Therefore, all that it comes down to is the labor required to locate the boundary markers and sight the lines. The average cost to survey 100 acres ranges between $6,500 to $9,500, with costs starting at roughly $65 per acre.

Land Survey Cost by Type

Just like there are many different size properties, there are also many different types of land surveys. The most commonly conducted land surveys are those done for homeowners who are looking to know more about the plot of land they own. These are typically referred to as a boundary survey, however, if you plan on selling your home, dividing the lot in half, or want more detailed information about the topography, a different land survey may be required.

Each type of land survey has distinct associated costs, most of which are usually determined by the amount of labor involved in completing the survey. The following table outlines the various types of land surveys and their average costs, which we will go into further detail below.

Type of Land SurveyAverage Cost
Boundary$100 to $9,500
Site Staking$200 to $2,000
Subdivision$300 to $400/ lot
Lot Survey$400 to $1,200
Topographic$400 to $9,500
Mortgage$450 to $600
As-Built$600 to $1,500
Elevation Certificate$750 to $4,900
Hydrographic$800 to $1,000/day
Plat Survey$800 to $1,200
ALTA$1,500 to $4,500

Boundary Survey Costs

A boundary survey is the most basic and most common type of land survey that people usually get when they are purchasing a home or pursuing some sort of project. For instance, if you plan on erecting a fence around your property, you need a boundary survey completed in order to determine where your property ends and where your neighbor’s starts. That way, you don’t accidentally start building the fence on someone else’s property.

For home additions, you might also need to have a boundary survey done to tell you how close you’ll be to the property lines. This type of survey involves the professional marking the four corners of the property, outlining the property lines, and providing a legal description of the legal boundaries. The cost range for boundary surveys is very wide, with costs beginning at $100 for a single boundary and costing up to $9,500 depending on the size of the property. Although, most homeowners will pay between $450 and $600 on average.

Staked Survey Costs

If you plan on having any construction done on your property, you need a construction survey – also referred to as site staking, or a staked survey. With this survey, every corner of the structure is staked off and the land is surveyed around it. A home with a basic design that includes four corners is relatively easy to stake off.

Whereas, properties with 20 to 30 corners and various indents on the exterior of the building can make the marking process very detailed and difficult. Because of this, staked survey costs have a massive range. As a general rule of thumb, the more corners you have, the higher the cost of the survey. However, most staked survey costs between $200 and $2,000 on average.

Subdivision Survey Costs

If you live in a subdivision, you might need to know about shared areas or right of ways, especially if the homes are built really close together. In subdivision surveys, the boundaries are marked and existing information may be discovered. For instance, if your property blocks your neighbor’s driveway off the main thoroughfare, they may have a right of access to reach their own property by way of your driveway. This is the type of information that is usually uncovered during a subdivision survey.

Depending on the number of structures involved in the survey, a subdivision survey can cost about $300 to $400 per lot. The average subdivision lot is slightly under 1/5 of an acre, however, they may be bigger depending on where you live.

Lot Survey Costs

A lot survey goes by a number of different names. It could be a mortgage survey that is required by your lender before a purchase or it may be a type of subdivision survey. Regardless, it is usually a combination of the two. This type of survey is a mortgage survey that is typically done on lots that exist in a subdivision. These surveys involve boundary lines, well and septic tank location, flood plains, and the utilities on the lot. Lot surveys typically cost between $400 and $1,200, depending on the size of the lot.

Topographic Survey Costs

A topographic survey involves the entire plot of land being reviewed in order to pinpoint both man-made and natural features. This includes hills, canyons, cliffs, streams, trees, buildings, fences, and elevations. Once complete, the surveyor will give you a detailed map of your property that displays the location of all the key features as well as the plot’s shape and size.

Oftentimes, topographic surveys are required by engineers, architects, or governmental agencies prior to lot development. As a general rule of thumb, rates for this type of survey are higher for plots that have significant topographical elements, such as hills and rivers. The average cost of a topographic survey ranges from $400 to $9,500.

Mortgage Survey Costs

A mortgage survey locates the boundaries of a plot, in addition to the locations of any buildings. It will also unveil general information regarding wells, flood plains, septic tanks, utilities, and more. These types of surveys are often required by title companies and lenders before granting a loan, depending on how long ago the land was surveyed. A mortgage survey may also not be necessary if major changes haven’t occurred since the last survey.

Regardless, the surveyor will usually refer to the property records to find out this information before conducting a new survey. The average cost of a mortgage survey ranges from $450 to $600, including elevations.

As-Built Survey Costs

If you intend to build a structure on your property, it is often recommended (and sometimes required) to have an as-built survey completed. This type of survey involves surveying the land where the structure is going to go. Then, drawings are done of the new structure, displaying how close or how far away it will sit from utilities, property lines, septic tanks, wells, and other essential features.

The reason for conducting an as-built survey is to determine if the new structure will negatively impact any of these features prior to building. An as-built survey costs an average of $600 to $1,500.

Elevation Survey Costs

An elevation survey is essentially any standard land survey that is presented for an elevation certificate, meaning detailed drawings are completed in order for the certificate to be issued. For example, if your home sits on a flood plain, the elevation survey will conclude this and display the extent of your property is impacted by a flood. In order to obtain flood insurance, you will need an elevation certificate.

The certificate adds about $350 to $450 to the cost of a standard land survey, equating to between $750 and $4,900 in total for the entire cost.

Hydrographic Survey Costs

Hydrographic surveys are a very different type of survey that is used for surveying the bottom of a body of water, like a pond, river, or lake. If you have water on your property and want to build a dock, or some other structure, on it, you’ll need a hydrographic survey.

These types of surveys tend to be very time-consuming and require the use of GPS and additional equipment in order to locate and map out the bottom. The costs for a hydrographic survey are typically charged on a day-to-day basis. With that said, you can expect to pay between $800 and $1,000 a day for a hydrographic survey.

Plat Survey Costs

A play survey is a drawing that is created from a lot survey. It can be completed prior to purchasing a single plot of land, or for what is eventually going to come to a subdivision and includes all of the various lots involved. The map that is produced from a plat survey displays the boundary and interior markings. It may include access, the shape of the land, and any feature it has.

Most properties will have a plat map that surveyors can refer to in the future to verify boundaries and features. These types of surveys, with the map, cost from $800 to $1,200 on average.

ALTA Survey Costs

The ALTA, or land title survey, is the most complete type of survey you can get. It follows the minimum standards put in place by the American Land Title Association (ALTA). As such, an ALTA survey will display everything there is to know about your plot of land. It will present boundaries, topographical information, the location of flood plains, waterfronts, septic tanks, utilities, wells, and any additional features.

This type of survey may be done if there is a dispute on the land’s title, which means that two or more individuals claim ownership of a section of the land if it’s bordering two properties. In this instance, the survey will be done across all three sections to determine who the true owner is. An ALTA survey usually cost an average of $1,500 to $4,500, depending on the size of the property and the length of the job. Oftentimes, a thorough land title survey could take months to finish.

Land Surveyor Fees

Although you may be able to location old surveyor maps and use them to find existing boundary lines or markers, it’s highly recommended to hire a licensed surveyor to give you the results necessary to produce legal documents. In most cases, land surveyors charge by the job after obtaining general information.

It’s very common for surveyors to charge a flat fee for jobs up to ½ acre. This fee may be between $400 and $700, but usually won’t be below this. Of course, the cost will go up if the surveyor discovers something unexpected that complicates the job. Surveyors usually charge a job in one of two ways:

  • Estimated Sum: Estimated proposals involve a general idea of what the survey is going to cost. You will receive the final bill after it is completed, which includes a breakdown of all the services. You will usually have between 10 and 15 days to pay the final bill. In the estimate, the surveyor will factor in what they feel is needed, and how much time it will take in order to complete the job. Since it’s an estimate, it may cost more or less in the end. Oftentimes, you’ll receive this type of proposal for larger properties that usually have a lot of unknowns.
  • Lump-Sum: With a lump-sum land survey, you give your surveyor some general details about the property and they come to take an initial look before they give you the cost. Then, you’ll pay the full cost at the time of the survey.

Surveyor Cost Per Hour

Most land surveyors charge by the hour and this is used to determine the full amount that they expect the survey to cost. This is exactly why most surveyors start with a flat rate, as they know that surveys will not take any less time and they can feel assured in their pricing. The average rate to hire a land surveyor is $175 to $250 an hour, per person.

The job may involve two surveyors, in which case you will pay this rate per surveyor. Oftentimes, two surveyors will cut the time in half, so it should not cause the total cost for the job to increase.

Related Questions

How long does a property survey last?

How long a survey lasts depends on how long a professional will defend the documentation, should it ever be challenged. This time will vary from state to state, but usually lasts between 5 and 10 years from the time the survey is completed.

Can you survey your own land?

While it is possible to survey your own line, it is not recommended. Assessments that aren’t done by professionals are not legal documents and cannot be used as part of a property sale. Additionally, a court can challenge the results of the survey if it’s not professionally certified.

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Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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