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To truly know your legal property boundary lines, you need to get a boundary survey done. Boundary surveys are commonly performed when property owners need to determine the boundaries for a DIY or professional construction job, when selling the property to ensure the description of the property's size is accurate, and when settling a property dispute. A survey should be performed any time the legal property lines are considered necessary information.
What Is a Property Boundary Survey?
A boundary survey formally defines the boundaries of a property. The survey is heavily focused on identifying the corners of the property, with the surveyor typically creating a lot drawing based on the survey. This drawing contains the exact lot dimensions and legal property lines.
Though fences and other markers are generally a decent indicator of where property lines are located, they are not always exact. The only way to be certain that you know the true boundaries of a property is to have a boundary survey performed.
The Survey Process
The survey process is involved and meticulous; boundary definition is a legal matter and professionals take it seriously. Your surveyor takes several steps to ensure that they provide the most accurate information possible.
To start, the surveyor verifies and establishes each corner of the property. Once that is done, markers (usually iron pipes or rebar) are placed in each corner and spray painted. After the corners have been marked, the surveyor is able to connect them to form the property line and note any encroachments.
From there, the surveyor creates the boundary drawing. Because this drawing is a legally binding document, surveyors must be sure to comply with the varying regulations pertaining to land and properties. These vary according to your location and local statute.
How Much Does a Property Boundary Survey Cost?
Prices for boundary surveys vary from project to project, with the time it takes to complete the survey directly impacting the final cost. An additional consideration is labor rates in your area, which typically vary widely.
- There are some surveyors that charge as little as $50 per hour, though the average cost of an experienced surveyor is between $84 and $100 per hour.
- The average total cost for a boundary survey is between $300 and $500.
- Depending on the complexity of the survey (among other factors), some surveys may cost as much as $700.
Cost is an important factor in any purchase, but do not let it be your only consideration. Don't be afraid to shop around and talk to multiple surveyors. Read all available reviews and be sure to ask others about their experience with the surveyor before you hire him or her.
Contributing Costs to Hiring a Boundary Surveyor
As stated above, there are additional factors that contribute directly to the cost of the survey. Some of those factors include:
- Date of the last survey: The more recently a survey has been performed on your property, the more accurate the information is. A newer survey means less work for the surveyor and therefore a lower cost. An older survey means more work and comes at a higher cost.
- Deed to the property: Even if the property does not have a recent or current boundary survey, the deed should have some description of the initial survey markers. This information is a great deal of help to the surveyor.
- Difficulty of the property: Plots of land that are flat and easy to navigate are every surveyor's dream. It makes it easier to establish property lines and takes far less time. However, if your property has rugged terrain or is difficult to get around, it is going to be harder to get an accurate survey, increasing the overall price of the job.
- Property development: If there has been any development on the property without a survey, there is a possibility that any previous markers were destroyed or removed. This adds to the tasks of your surveyor, driving up the price of the services.
- Water boundaries: More difficult to survey than land boundaries, water boundaries definitely increase the cost of the survey. There are laws in place that give people who own property along lakes, streams, and other bodies of water ownership over that water. These laws are complex, taking rising and falling water levels into account, and make the boundary survey process more complex as a result.