Surveyors spend a significant amount of time each day estimating the cost of boundary surveys for prospective clients. I have many clients call and ask how much I charge for a boundary survey as if they all cost the same standard rate. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are several factors that can affect the cost of a boundary survey such as:
Size and shape of the parcel
Terrain (hills, wooded, or open)
Location of the parcel
History of surveys in the surrounding area
Boundary evidence available
Previous surveys preformed by the surveyor in the surrounding area
When preparing an estimate for a boundary survey the surveyor must first obtain a copy of the legal description of the property to be surveyed. The legal description is usually provided to the surveyor by the prospective client. The legal description tells the surveyor how to survey the parcel and indicates where to start the survey. It also establishes the boundary lines from the starting point using bearings and distances or calls to physical monumentation such as roads, rivers, and government section lines.
Depending on how the legal description is written the surveyor could be required to determine the boundaries of a large tract of land before establishing the boundaries of the clients parcel. One example of such a legal description is, “The south 5.00 acres of the SE 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 15, Ann Arbor Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan”. In this example the surveyor would be required to survey the limits of the entire section 15 which is approximately 640 acres to determine where the boundaries of the 5.00 acres parcel are!
Next the surveyor would review his survey records of the surrounding area. Information on one of his previous surveys will assist in preparing the new survey which can lower the overall cost of the survey. Also, other important information can be obtained from the surveyor records like the history of surveying in the area. Some areas are lacking existing property irons and government section corners and are prone to boundary conflicts. These sorts of issues can significantly increase the cost of the survey.
The surveyor will look at the location (travel distance), size of the parcel, and the type of terrain on the parcel. A surveyor needs to be able to see from point to point to do his job. If the parcel has hills or is covered in trees and brush the surveyor’s job is more difficult.
Cost estimates for boundary surveys can vary greatly due to these factors. Most surveyors don’t charge a fee for preparing a boundary survey estimate. They just need the time to do a little research before providing the quote.
By Patrick Hastings, PS, principal, Midwestern Consulting, LLC. Contact Pat at 734.995.0200.