How A $2500 Land Survey May Make Me $50,000

Land Survey

When I bought this property back in 2012, I had no idea what it could become in the future.  It wasn’t until I had a Land Survey that I came to realize it’s true potential.

The original purchase included a 2 bedroom 1 bath house (house on left), with 2.5 car garage, a 50X30 pole barn (end of gravel drive), set on 14 acres located about 3 miles outside of town.  Oh, and because I now had a lot of grass to mow, I needed a tractor with a bush hog, so I negotiated that in the sale as well.  At the time of the sale, I had to pay for a Land Survey which was about $1000, in 2012.

Good Gracious, even inflation has affected the Property Survey Market.

Fast forward 10 years, a couple of Presidents, some Federal Reserve Chairman, and an inflation rate of 9.1%, and it’s become apparent that inflation has even reached its tentacles into the Property Survey Market.  A similar property survey, to the one back in 2012, just cost me $2500. Good grief, Why have surveyor costs increased 150% in 10 years?

Because, Supply and Demand!

The amount of building going on (Demand) is being out-paced by the number of people who can complete a Property Survey (Supply).  I got it now; the basic law of economics explains the 150% increase, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable!

Find out how I was able to offset some of my costs by leasing out my land to raise cattle.

Why do I even need another land survey, 10 years later?

Remember how I told you that the property came with a house, pole barn and 14 acres?  Well, in 2015 I bought the dilapidated, menace of a house next door on 1.96 acres.  In doing so, it gave me separate access to the back corner of the 14 acres.  Shortly after the purchase and demolition of the menace house, I built another 930 square foot 2 bedroom (house on right in photo), 1 bath house, next to the original one.

Oh the good ole days….I remember how uncomfortable it was to have to pay $120 a square foot to build a brand new house back in 2015.  Today that same house would run $200 per square foot.

Now I had 2 houses, and a pole barn on the same parcel of land.  And, to make matters worse, the field lines for the second property’s septic system actually traversed across property number one.

This could be a problem if I ever wanted to sell one, or both in the future.  So, I decided I needed it separated into 3 parcels; house (one) with a little land, house (two) with the pole barn and a little land, and the remaining 12 Acres.  In order to accomplish this, I needed a new Land Survey.

How the new Cadastral will make it easy to sell everything separately.

Separating everything now may be a bit premature, as I don’t have immediate plans to sell.  But, if I were to sell 3 separate parcels, rather than 1, It could mean a profit, in today’s terms, in the neighborhood of $50,000.

But it’s not for sale, instead, I have bigger plans

The Cadastral will make separating everything out for taxes much simpler as well.  Having 2 houses on the same parcel, made it unclear what my tax liability was per house, because they charged just for the one parcel.  I’m pretty fanatical obsessed when it comes to tracking my expenses.

Curve ball alert

Curve Ball

I’ve learned through this process that In order to have the new Cadastral recorded by the county, I needed to have a an updated soil mapping inspection completed.  I didn’t know there was such a thing.

Soil mapping, another $1500 cost

Soil mapping is the act of taking random soil samples on a plot of land, and testing it for its composition.  Used predominantly in farming to locate adequate soil for the best farming yields, it’s becoming more common for building construction, and for installation of septic systems.

From the EPA Website:

Soil-based systems discharge the liquid (known as effluent) from the septic tank into a series of perforated pipes buried in a leach field, chambers, or other special units designed to slowly release the effluent into the soil.

Nowadays, the EPA seems to be taking a very ‘active’ approach into making sure we’re building what and where they deem ‘suitable’, in the hopes that we will save us from ourselves.  Thank you almighty EPA!

Now, after spending the necessary $1500 on my soil mapping exercise, I’ve moved on to the next step; the Septic Inspection.

Septic Inspections in Tennessee are now facilitated online.

Since I had been in contact with our county’s Environmental and Conservation Department regarding my Land Survey and Soil Mapping, I was informed that in order to build on my land, I was required to get a physical Septic Inspection.

They actually had to send a representative from the EPA to visually inspect that, where I wanted to build, has adequate slope for a septic system.

The site I chose is at one of the highest points on my land, so I never worried about being denied or somehow failing my septic inspection.

Until recently, the State of Tennessee’s protocol for applying for a Septic Inspection was by contacting your county’s field office and setting up an onsite visit.  Now it is all done online at this site: TN.GOV.

Thankfully, my septic inspection went well, and I am now able to build on the location I was hoping for.

Now, I just have to figure out if I build a Duplex for long term rental, a container home for short term rental or something else.  At this point I have to do more market research before pulling the trigger, but I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

Have land surveys gotten more expensive where you live, or is Tennessee an anomaly?

Do you need a Septic Inspection if you plan to build in the state you live in?  Asking for a friend…



2 thoughts on “How A $2500 Land Survey May Make Me $50,000”

    1. Most certainly, I have 8 raised garden beds (6) 4X8 and (2) 4X4’s. I’ve just put seeds in this past weekend as a matter of fact? Do you have a garden?

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