How do your fees for land survey work compare to others in your market and around the country? Numerous factors affect the scale. It can sometimes require a balance between competition and earning a reasonable profit. If your fees are too high, you’ll price yourself out of the market. If they’re too low, you’ll undercut competition but lose income in the process.
What’s the right balance? Here are a few tips on how to find it.
Determine Which Environmental and Site Factors Matter
There’s no such thing as an average or ordinary land survey job. Every site is different with a wide range of variables that could make your job easier or a lot more difficult. If you identify some of the factors that add complexity to your work, you’ll have the framework of a fee scale that may go up or down depending on the conditions.
LandSurveyors.com lists these important issues for building a reasonable client estimate.
- Site accessibility: will you need 4WD and can you reach the public land corners?
- Site monuments: are there any trees, fences or monument evidence?
- Survey plat: will you need a draftsman to complete the map?
- Records search: how challenging will it be to find a chain of title or record of land transactions?
- Job scale: is the parcel so remote that it breaking down a larger section or sections?
- Unusually shaped boundaries: is the parcel simple and rectangular or does it have irregular boundaries?
- Terrain: will you encounter rocks and other obstacles that make the job more complicated?
- Season and weather conditions: aside from the challenges of working outside in the elements, seasons and the weather can affect the difficulty of the job. For example, rain can make sites inaccessible and leaf cover on the ground might hide monuments.
- Site vegetation: will any brush or branches require clearing to improve your line of sight?
Perform Market Research in Your Area
When was the last time you compared your rates to those of other land surveyors in your market? If it’s been a while, it’s probably time to check the going rate for services again.
According to Home Advisor, the average amount that people in the U.S. paid last year for home survey work was between $336 and $669. At the low end, the cost was about $200. On the high end, fees were closer to $1,000.
Using a service such as Home Advisor can give you a rough idea of the national fees. You can also enter a zip code to get a closer look at pricing structures in your area. For example, Home Advisor shows the average cost in Cape Coral, FL, as $250-$300. If you work in Los Angeles, the average falls between $652 and $1,007.
Entrepreneur cautions against relying only on information found online. It’s a good place to start, but you’ll still need to pick up the phone and put in some legwork. Talk with other surveyors in your area. If they’re not keen on sharing information, think about hiring a research firm to handle it.
Although you need to stay competitive, try never to undervalue your work. That’s one of the biggest mistakes that any small business owner can make. According to Bidsketch, pricing too low can shake client confidence in your abilities. Instead of driving in more jobs, it might make potential customers question why your rates are so low. Find the average for your location and don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth.
Continuing education helps maintain your skills, which also supports client confidence. If it’s time to renew your professional development credits, check out the Land Surveyor courses available at PDH Academy today.