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Understanding Survey Costs

Like any professional service, costs depend on the amount of time and detail needed for the scope of work. There are many variables that make it difficult to determine exact costs in advance. Based on experience, though, your land surveyor should be able to provide a cost estimate. The land surveyor you choose may require a contract for their services that details the work to be done and the compensation required. Below are examples of scenarios that may affect the cost:

Type of Survey

The complexity of a survey and the presence of any disputes are significant factors. The development of large industrial sites or rural land could require more hours than a survey of a residential lot; cost is proportional to the time needed to complete a survey but is not necessarily proportional to parcel size. 

Record Search 

Research varies by (a) the number of parcels, (b) the number of past transactions, and (c) the quality of legal descriptions, which may require examining property ownership documents (e.g. deed records, road records, and planning reports)


Property Size and Shape

An irregularly-shaped parcel has more property corners to mark than a rectangular parcel containing the same area. The property size, along with features such as water boundaries, has a direct effect on the time required to survey the land. 

Sectionalized Survey Work 

Oregon rural property surveys are typically based on work that was performed more than 100 years ago by General Land Office surveyors. Researching old surveys could require considerable effort and extensive fieldwork. 

Terrain and Vegetation 

A level parcel of urban land is easier to survey than a mountainous rural parcel. Branches, brush, and small trees must often be cleared near the property boundaries to provide a line of sight. Shrubs, flowers, and trees on home sites are normally not disturbed but may require additional field time to avoid when placing final corners.


The time needed to perform surveying work varies with the distance to and difficultly in reaching property boundaries. Your land surveyor may need to record survey monuments on a neighbor’s property some distance away from the parcel being surveyed. These distant survey monuments may influence boundary location, affecting costs.

Existing Evidence on Property

Existing evidence left by previous surveyors may assist your land surveyor. These may include iron, wood, or stone monuments (markers), old fences, and other evidence of boundaries erected. Testimony by long-term residents may be required and valuable.

Difficult Neighbors 

When neighbors dispute a boundary, access to important boundary evidence may be difficult, thereby affecting time and costs.

Time of Year 

In the summer, thicker foliage may result in more field labor. Winter weather may slow travel as well as conceal critical field evidence.

Title Company/Lender Requirements 

Landowners should have a good understanding of the costs and documents required prior to beginning a survey. Your land surveyor can assist you in understanding these requirements.

Other Factors

State law requires filing a survey map with the County Surveyor whenever a boundary monument is established. Most counties charge recording fees to maintain these records, which may be costly. Due to the potentially litigious nature of property law, some companies carry professional liability insurance as additional protection for their clients.
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