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How Much Does It Cost To Excavate Land?

National Average Change Location | View National
$2,955
Typical Range
$1,435 - $4,876
Low End
$500
High End
$9,200

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Land excavation is a process where trees, shrubs and plants are removed from a certain area. Also called land clearing, this job may be a done for a variety of different reasons. Although the specific machinery used for excavation may vary depending on the size of the lot and the plant life already in place, the most common choices are either an excavator or a backhoe loader, although most tractors can be equipped with a backhoe attachment to get the job done. The exact cost of land excavation will depend on a number of factors, but this guide can help homeowners estimate their expenses.

Reasons to Excavate Land

The most common reason to excavate land is so that the land can be built upon. In fact, this is so common that most builders think of excavation as step one in the construction process. The price of excavating land should be included in your overall cost of construction per square foot. However, that is far from the only reason to excavate land to build a home on a piece of residential property. Excavation can be necessary in order to build an in-ground swimming pool, or it could be necessary in order to push back bush encroaching on an existing structure. Lots of trees and shrubs around a house can look unattractive, but in some climates, they can also be a serious fire hazard. Excavation may also be necessary to turn a wooded area into a garden, farmland or even a space for a playground. In some cases, even if there is a flat pad ready for construction, additional excavation will be needed below ground level in order to prepare for pouring a concrete patio or building a basement for a new home.

Erosion Control and Cost

Excavation, generally speaking, only involves pushing around and digging up the root systems of existing trees and shrubs. After the excavation work is complete, property owners may be faced with piles of dirt and other debris that needs to be relocated. If dirt needs to be spread out evenly in a new location or even taken offsite for some reason, it will cost more. In addition, it is worth asking professional excavators about their erosion control plan after the excavation is completed. Simply placing earth in a new location doesn't guarantee that it will stay there indefinitely, particularly if the area is sloped or there is significant rain forecast in the future. Some options for erosion control can include planting ground cover, compacting the area or consistently watering the ground until construction begins. Keep in mind that the more involved an erosion control method is, the more it will cost the property owner.

Excavation vs. Grading

When getting quotes for land excavation, it is important to understand whether the job will include grading. The process of grading is sometimes confused with that of excavation, but they are technically two separate jobs. While excavation deals with removing plants from the land, grading involves creating a level base. Cut-and-fill grading is the roughest form of excavation, meaning that a large excavator will scoop up extra dirt from one area and relocate it to areas lacking in earth so that the landscape is more even. For proper drainage in potential flood areas or for agricultural purposes, this basic method may be sufficient. For the construction of a new swimming pool or home, however, a more precise form of grading where the exact levels of the ground are measured for optimal flatness may be a better choice. Of course, the more grading is required, the more the total project will cost.

How Land Excavation is Priced

Pricing excavation is impossible to do without first seeing the site. So many factors can influence a quote, so homeowners should only accept bids from excavation companies that have physically seen the land and the surrounding terrain. Otherwise, they may underbid, do a poor job or even overcharge. There are two primary ways that excavation is priced. The first is for the entire project, which will be based on the terrain and the size of the area. However, most excavation companies will instead price the job based entirely on the number of yards of dirt that need to be moved. Typically, a yard of dirt costs around $100 to be moved, but that can change substantially up and down. If grading is needed, trees and shrubs need to be taken away after they are cleared or various erosion control techniques have to be implemented, the excavation company may bill them separately.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Land Excavation

Four major factors will affect the cost of land excavation. They are the total size of the area to be excavated, what the terrain and soil is like, what the excavation is being done for and what equipment will be needed. Obviously, cut-and-fill excavation in an area with loose soil, no trees and no rocks in the dirt will be much simpler, and therefore cheaper, than removing dozens of mature trees and dealing with boulders stuck in a clay-like soil. In addition, tough excavation projects that require additional equipment, or the use of multiple machines at once, may add to the total cost of the job. Keep in mind that timing can play a role in total cost. During the spring and summer, when more homes are being built, excavation demand is higher along with prices. However, frozen ground in the winter can greatly increase prices as well.

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Patricia Lewis More than 1 year ago
need to excavate and grade my 3.4 ACRE LOT. How much should it cost.
Winston Williams More than 1 year ago
How did it go?  
KOBBO SANTAROSA More than 1 year ago
I NEED TO EXCAVATE AND GRADE MY 10 ACRE LOT.

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