Land Surveying and GIS Services
Somerville, MA
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Surveying FAQ's

How much does a land survey cost?

Costs vary widely depending on the type of survey being performed, size and topography of the property, quality and availability of record plans and survey monuments, and the survey firm's own hourly costs. Two commonly performed surveys, property line stakings and certified plot plans, have similar costs. For a quarter acre or smaller lot in Massachusetts, one should expect to pay at least $800-$1600 for one of these surveys. FEMA flood elevation surveys are usually cheaper, while more detailed surveys such as a subdivision plan or a topographic site plan are more expensive.

Why is there so much variation in pricing?

Prospective clients are often shocked to find that the most expensive quote can be two or more times the price of the least expensive quote for the same survey. The simplest explanation for this varation is that there is a lot of uncertainty for the surveyor when estimating costs. Factors such as disturbed or missing monuments, innaccurate or conflicting plans and deeds, access to records, and difficult site conditions greatly affect how many hours it takes to complete a given job.

Another factor affecting prices are a survey firm's fixed costs. A larger firm with dozens of employees, highly paid principles, a large office, and the capability to survey a multistate pipeline project will probably come in on the high end for your small home improvement project. The distance from the firm's office to your site and to the offices where records are kept will affect prices due to travel time, as will their experience and efficiency at doing a particular type of work. If a firm has a large backlog of work they may increase their quotes slightly, or they may decrease them during the winter when work is slow.

To estimate costs for a quote, a surveyor will usually do some preliminary research including looking up the current deed and record plan (if any) for the property and looking at satellite imagery of the property. He or she will then estimate how many hours the job will take and will multiply that by the company's hourly charge rates to come up with a price. A surveyor who is more familiar with a given city or neighborhood will have a better idea of the quality and availability of records and survey monuments, and will be able to come up with a more accurate estimate.

Why are surveys so expensive?

In a nutshell, a survey takes a lot more time for background research, field work, and calculations than most people realize, and there are a lot of fixed costs involved.

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7 Walnut Road
Somerville, Massachusetts 02145