What's the Hourly Rate for a property survey cost?

chuehNovember 4, 2011

I called for quotes. One of the quotes is $1100 for our 0.6 acre lot, including topography, plat, and property line markings, with an autocad file transfer capability for the architect. I searched online for approximate cost of a survey. $100-$400 makes sense to me, when I got some answers online. However, $1100 for such a small lot blew my mind. Forgive my ignorance, but I would think that a surveyor spends a little more time than an appraiser or a house inspector, so he/she would add a little more. Nonetheless, $1100 would be 3-4 times more than what an appraiser or a house inspector charges.


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A few months ago we paid less than that for a 40 acre survey thru dense forest and ravines where 4 wheelers can't go! The survey is not autocad.

We also paid about $550 for 3 acres in a separate survey that would have been thru trees and therefore some walking.

If you have it done take pics of the markers before they get pulled. Also take pics if Julie comes out to mark things, as those get mowed over and run over.

on a side note--
I recently found that using google maps and the plot survey ( number of feet) and a map drawing function in google maps I could print our farm complete with trees, road and driveway, and buildings with a perimeter outline in color!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 8:41PM
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Thanks Cheer! Indeed! I have the same type of photo from the google map; I could even draw my own house plan accordingly. However, I am trying to have a survey , due to the request by an architect. An architect needs more than that, right, especially TOPOGRAPHY, which google map does not show...?

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 9:04PM
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Well if it helps, I could not find an architect in rural america. It turned out the guy who owned the local the lumberyard did excellent work with the inexpensive software ( I think he said less than $100- with numerous free downloads he did our house for us.) It was a fluke, He was actually just selling us the marvin windows but when I saw our home on his computer I went nuts and called my hubby to come see it!
He also went out and staked out teh perimeter of the build. Then we went back to the site with him and the builder. For the fall of the slope ( walk out basement and steep hill) he went to the site with the builder who had some tall laser light pole equipment that measured the fall. We were told that the fall was like our walkout required. It was that steep. There was serious discussion between the 2 on the garage and how to do that with the slope and a no step ( handicap) entrance.

Hope this helps. We later got the tax assessment to look at our plans, and then redid the floor plan for smaller, then after getting the build price from the builder scrapped the whole thing, and bought a fixer upper. We tipped the owner at the lumber yard for his hard work anyway, and encouraged our GC to use his lumberyard for materials when able.

Sounds like your new build situation will be more positive. :)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 9:37PM
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We paid about that for six rolling, wooded acres with a perennial stream that had to be marked for setbacks. But, that included multiple trips to the site, marking for the clearing, septic field survey and marking, foundation pinning and probably a few other things I can't remember at the moment. I think his rate is around $100/hr; field work is slightly more expensive that office work.

You could check to see if your county has a GIS system on-line. That might give the information your architect needs. But I would caution you that this may not be accurate. Ours was off by 75 feet, which could have had serious implications because of the stream and set-back requirements.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2011 at 9:54PM
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I just paid $535 for a boundary and elevation survey in NW Florida. I don't know how much more the topography would be since we didn't need that. I wouldn't think the architect would have to have the topography unless the property slopes a lot or the house has different levels. Architect probably wants the boundary survey to make sure the house will fit with the proper set backs.

There was a new house down the road from us that had to be torn down because it was inside the setbacks! They had the foundations (house and detached garage) poured and the house 50% framed. Survey company had marked the foundation location for the builder and it was 6 FEET off! County stopped the building for 2 weeks or more and then made them tear everything out and start over. What an expensive mistake!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 12:25AM
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My builder's boilerplate estimation for survey costs are $1500 and we are going to exceed that do the nature of the build. I do believe the hourly rate varies whether it is field work or office work but is about $80.

So one has to be careful making generalizations about how much things like this cost. It has a lot to do with jurisdictional requirements. I spent an extra $300 for survey work that the health department required for our septic system - they never had required this before (it was the actual staking of the field). Then the town wanted something for some rule they forgot they had. It goes on and on but our topo maps would take probably more than 10 hours to do but thankfully the surveyor had already done it years ago when the lot was created.

I do think this is one area where you don't have a lot of control.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 8:29AM
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I just had a survey done last week on 5 heavily wooded acres in Houston for $350. That only included flagging it, marking the exterior borders, emailing me a PDF, and a hard copy in the mail. I was amazed at the price variation between people when I got quotes. In TX they are licensed by the state and you can search on the state website by city for licensed surveyors. Check that out in your state.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 8:49AM
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We looked into surveying our 14/acre lot. First company asked us for 1000/acre (Indiana). For rectangular lot, with monuments at least on one side.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 9:05AM
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My surveyor does extensive office and research work before coming to the property. He gets copies of all the adjoining deeds and copies of plats, if they exist. Official copies of the deed(s) of the property he will survey. In most cases that will show in advance of there is any overlappage or underlappage involved. He will come to the property with two assistants. Not low cost but thorough.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 9:07AM
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We just paid $550 for our survey with topography and CAD file for the architect. This is for a 1.4 acre lot in East Tennessee. The surveyor we used charged a flat fee. I would imagine what part of the country you're in would affect your price.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 11:39AM
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Boundary surveys are much less expensive than topographic survey.

A topographic surveys has many more data points that must be measured and then turned into a plot.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 11:44AM
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Well, in our area, for a survey, map, finding/installing monuments and having everything recorded...your price would not be out of line, at all. Surveys are expensive, but it you're not getting maps, monuments installed or having the survey recorded (and this can be an important step) then it will probably be much cheaper.

My advice...be sure you're comparing apples to apples and that you have all the proper paperwork completed and recorded. Otherwise, you may have to have it surveyed again. No, I'm not a surveyor, but I've had this done on three different pieces of property...two for resale.

Also, if you're surveying your boundaries, make sure they're exact, before you put up an expensive fence...or you might have to move it a few feet, down the road.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 12:13PM
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Certified Plot Plan
Prior to the issuance of a building permit many communities require that a Certified Plot Plan be prepared and endorsed by a Professional Land Surveyor. Preparation of the plan requires the Surveyor to establish the property boundaries and locate the structures on the property. Generally, the plan is prepared to show the approving authority that the structure will meet the setbacks required by the communityâÂÂs zoning regulations.

Property Line Staking
Often property owners have only a general idea of where their property begins and ends. A property line staking involves setting survey monuments at lot corners and additional markers at set intervals along the property lines. Upon completion it is possible to stand on the lot and visibly see the exact location of property lines.

Construction Layout and Verification
As a project progresses from plans to construction it is often advisable or required to have the exact location and elevation of a structure staked on the lot. This prevents costly errors and helps ensure the structure is placed as required by the permit. In some communities clients are required to have the Surveyor certify the location of the completed structure prior to the project being considered complete.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2011 at 12:38PM
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are you in an expensive part of the country? In northern california, I paid about $4500 for a complete survey to give to the architectural designer, for about 1.3 acres. I got 3 quotes, and they were all about the same, from independent survey offices. I couldn't find any surveyors working out of home offices, so I'm sure it would have been a little less expensive, but not by much.

One think I will mention...CUT down any trees you don't want BEFORE the official survey. We were dumb, and didn't do that, and now we have some trees that we can't really touch, since the city would make us replace them if we cut them down.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 2:49PM
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No, juniork, I am in Georgia.... and the land was clear two years ago by the builder. Now it's pretty much just tiny bushes and grasses here and there scarcely. That's why the quote blew my mind.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 8:21PM
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In New Jersey, my engineer's costs are as follows:

Plot Plan + septic design $1250
House clearing stakeout - $375
House Construction stakeout - $425
Foundation Location - $400
Final Survey - $650

Updated boundary survey (it is subdivided land, so surveys are already there) of the vacant parcel for submission to the lender for construction financing - $600

Additional services at hourly rates
consultant $125
Project Director $85
Draftsman $40
Four man field crew/EDM $160


    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 1:35PM
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Plot plans and improvement surveys do NOT normally include topography.

Topography is expensive.

Depending on the plot, it may need points on an almost 1 foot grid over the whole plot or they might be relaxed to every 2-4 feet.

Do you really need topography?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 3:09PM
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Yes, the architect explained to me that there might be grading problems if the builder is about to build the foundation and find the level is not right

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:15PM
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Would you mind telling me what a plot survey include? Is it different from a Plat map?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 7:39PM
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Why would you assume the cost of a survey is remotely comparable to the cost of a house inspection?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 3:07PM
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"Would you mind telling me what a plot survey include? Is it different from a Plat map?"

Boundaries and improvements usually, with large scale terrain (like crooks or bodies of water).

A plat is the final product.
A surveyor stamped drawing of the properties boundaries and improvements.

One of the things a surveyor also has to do is read the deed and determine the full legal description of the property from that.

It can get messy if land has been held a long time and changes around the plot (and on the plot) have occurred (man made or natural).

Very old surveys and plot descriptions can be a nightmare to sort out.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 4:16PM
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