Topographical Survey – How Much Do They Cost?

A Guide to Topographical Land Survey Costs In 2021

Discover how much a topographical land survey can cost and top tips to help save you money.

Article By: Tom Ayre | Last Update: November 2020

In this guide, we explain how much a typical topographical survey and production of CAD drawings can cost along with what aspects affect the overall price of the work.

This guide will hopefully shed light on how much a topographic (topo/land) survey costs, how they are quoted for, and what you can do to reduce the cost of your survey.

In this article we discuss the following:

  • How much does a topographical survey cost?
  • How to save money when obtaining topographical survey quotes.
  • Example pricing that THS Concepts have charged.

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

How Much Does a Topographical Survey Cost?

In the UK land surveying companies typically charge between £300 and £1000 for a day’s topographical surveying work in the field.

Once they have returned from the site and are back in the office the information that has been collected whilst on site will be drawn up using computer-aided design (CAD) software such as AutoCAD.

A typical cost to draw up the topographical survey would be between £300 and £600 per day. As a rough rule of thumb, for every day on-site for 1 surveyor, expect a day in the office to draw up the topographical drawings.

Most sites we encounter are residential, offices, or small parcels of land. Typically these take 1 day to survey and1 day to produce the drawings. This would give an approximate price of £1000 + VAT.

What Affects The Cost Of A Topographical Survey?​

Travel Time

The cost of the survey team traveling to the site will need to be factored into the quote. If you are in a densely populated area then you will pay a lot less than say, someone on a remote island as the travel costs will be significantly higher. 

Surveying Time

The number of hours or days to survey a piece of land can vary based on several factors, these include:

  • The extent of the land to be surveyed.
  • How overgrown the area of land is.
  • The level of detail you require.
  • The level of accuracy you require.
  • The location of the plot of land.
Office Time

Once back in the office the hours/days to draw a topographical survey heavily depend on:

  • The extent of the survey, is there a lot of information to show?
  • The detail required. If there is a lot of features to show then this takes time to complete.
  • The desired CAD output, do you need elements in 3D or 2D, etc.

The topographical survey company undertaking the quote will typically work out how many days to survey on-site and draw up in the office. They will then produce a quote based on these time frames. Most land surveying companies typically charge VAT which is another cost to factor into your costs.

Example Topographical Survey Costs

Here we give you three examples of how much we charged to undertake three fairly standard topographical surveys. The land surveying costs quoted included a site survey and producing a topographical survey drawing in CAD and PDF format.

Please note that the surveying costs quoted are heavily based on the distance to the site. Our travel costs are charged from our office in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Residential Site

aerial photo of a house showing the boundaries of a topographical survey

£750 + VAT

Parcel Of Land

aerial photo showing a red lined area for a topographical survey

£1850 + VAT

Parcel Of Land

Topographical survey extent image large area

£3300 + VAT

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How To Save Money On Your Topographical Quotes?

Working out how much a topographical survey can cost is a difficult task for someone looking for a quote as well as the company pricing the works. Many factors can influence the price of a survey such as:

  • Extent of the land you need to survey.
  • The level of detail you require.
  • The location of the works.
  • In this section we give you simple tips that will help you get better value topographical survey quotes. This should either reduce your costs, or give you a survey drawings that are exactly what you need.

Saving Money - Infographic

Tip #1 - Specify Your Exact Survey Requirements

A topographical survey specification provided to your survey providers is extremely important.

The specification document allows you to list out your exact survey requirements. The specification document can help save money by allowing you to list out your exact survey requirements. This could save site survey time and office hours for the survey company, in turn, this should reduce your costs!

The level of detail required can have a massive impact on your topographical land survey costs. If you need a large area of land surveyed then a good tip is to specify the areas where you need more detail and where you need less.

There is sometimes no need to survey all areas in high detail. This will save your surveyors’ time and ultimately lower your costs.

When you receive a quote from the surveying company, check that it contains all the relevant information you need for your survey. It’s crucial your company has understood your specification – you don’t want them coming back and asking for more money because they either didn’t understand your specification or they misunderstood it.

It is also worth checking terms and conditions to check there are no additional fees for revisions to the drawing or returning to the site if they haven’t picked something up correctly.

If you are looking for a topographical survey specification document then please refer to the guide from RICS “Measured Survey Of Land, Buildings and Utilities“.

Tip #2 - Reduce The Size of the Land To Be Surveyed

Sometimes it might not actually be necessary to survey the whole of the property / extent of the land. Reducing the required survey area will save the survey company time on site and in the office. Thus reducing costs.

If you are building an extension, for instance, it may be that you can reduce your survey area to within 10 metres of the existing structure. There is no point in surveying all the way to the end of the garden if this data isn’t going to be used.

Practical Tip: Utilise a tool such as Google Earth to mark up a satellite image. This way you can show exactly what you need surveying and what you do not.

Aerial image of a survey extent for a topographical survey
Large area to be surveyed
Aerial image of a survey extent for a topographical survey
Reduced area to be surveyed

Tip #3 - Can You Make the Survey Process More Efficient?

The location and type of land that needs surveying can make a huge difference in your land survey costs. For instance, surveying a big open field in comparison to a remote forest with limited visibility.

If you have an area of dense overgrowth that needs surveying a good idea may be to reduce overgrowth making the site more open. Your surveyor will thank you and your bank balance will too! At the quotation stage ensure you send some example photos to show how clear the area is. This might not necessarily show on Aerial imagery which is what the survey company usually price their quotes from.

Practical Tip: If it is cost effective, reduce the foliage where possible and make the site more open where you can. Take photos of the site before and send these with your quote request to show the survey company the lay of the land at ground level.

Topographical survey on a railway line that is overgrown
Heavily overgrown - more difficult to survey.
Topographical survey on a clear railway
A easier survey cleared of vegetation.

Tip #4 - Check The Surveyors Credentials

A topographical land survey is an important part of any building project and serves as a key component when planning out your land development projects. If you want to save on future costs then ensure the land survey company you employ is:

  • Experienced Are they a new company that has just started out? This may be a sign of inexperience.
  • Suitably insured If things do go wrong then it’s comforting knowing that the company you are dealing with is insured.
  • See drawing examples Have a look at examples of work they have produced, does it come across as professional?

Practical Tip: A legitimate survey company should be able to demonstrate their levels of insurance, terms and conditions and provide examples of their work. If you are un sure on a company then checking HMRC companies lookup site can sometimes yield worrying aspects about a company or their directors.

Tip #5 - Check Their Reviews

Utilising review sites such as Google or Trustpilot can help potential customers see if they are dealing with a good or bad company.

In this day and age it is very easy for people to leave positive and negative reviews for companies. Often reading through these reviews can show you the good and / or bad side of a company.

Also having no reviews on any major platform can raise red flags.

Practical Tip: A legitimate survey company should be able to demonstrate their level of customer service through positive reviews from clients, good quality drawings and they should be able to provide insurance certificates.

Tip #6 - Review Data / Drawings They Have Provided On Previous Jobs​

When getting quotes for your topographical land survey ask for example drawings in both PDF and CAD format. You can then have a little look at the drawing to see how organised they are, level of detail they typically pick up etc.

Having a poor quality survey drawing will cost you time and money as you may need to send the surveyor back to site to pick up more detail, thus causing delays!

Get A Quote For Your Project Today

Tell us about your project and we will get straight back to you with a formal quotation for the works. Your quote will include:

  • Fixed price to undertake the required works.
  • Proposed survey & drawing return date.

Alternative Ways To Contact Us

Get A Quote For Your Project Today

Tell us about your project and we will get straight back to you with a formal quotation for the works. Your quote will include:

– Fixed price to undertake the required works.
– Proposed survey & drawing return date.

Alternative Ways To Contact Us