How Much Does It Cost To Clear Land?
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If you're embarking on a new construction project, then it's likely that one of the first steps you must consider is preparing the site for subsequent building work. Depending on the size of the project, this could be an extensive operation requiring heavy machinery and a team of workers.
Take the time to learn more about what land clearing entails and the potential costs involved. Then use our online tool to find free quotes from local contractors.
Table of Contents
- Land Clearing Cost
- Land Clearing Cost Factors
- Site Preparation Details
- Land Clearing Companies
- Find A Pro
Land Clearing Cost
The cost to clear an area of land in preparation for building work varies greatly depending on the size and scope of the project. Usually, the cost for a homeowner to employ a professional contractor ranges from $1,270 to $4,031, averaging at $2,592. The cost for a small project, such as preparing ground for a patio or decking, is as little as $375, while the cost for clearing a large area to build a new home is $7,000 or more.
While factors such as the time of year, geographical location and accessibility affect the overall cost, most contractors charge based on the size of the area. When determining your budget, allow an average of $2 per square foot.
Land Clearing Cost Factors
Many factors affect the cost of clearing land, so most contractors like to complete a survey of the area before delivering a quotation. Some of the most common factors include:
- Whether A Permit is Necessary: Some local zoning and planning departments may require a permit, which may add $50 to $200 to the project budget.
- The Size of the Area to Clear: With clearing costs running up to $2 per square foot, the price for a job quickly escalates.
- The Type of Work Involved: Clearing an area may involve grubbing plants, grading soil levels and demolishing existing structures. Very hilly areas require more grading and restructuring to make them usable, making them more expensive to clear than flat, open areas.
- Haulage & Disposal: It may be necessary to remove waste products from the site, incurring additional fees. Some companies may remove sellable timber or firewood for free, or at a discounted rate.
- Site Accessibility: Clearing work often involves the use of heavy machinery. Getting the machinery to site may require the construction of temporary roads and access points. For areas that are very difficult to reach, it may be necessary to do the work by hand, which increases the length and difficulty of the project and therefore increases the overall cost.
- Geographical Location: Prices vary in different areas. The proximity of protected natural habitats and woodlands may also make it more difficult to undertake the work in a timely manner without first getting the proper authorization.
- Time of Year: Bad weather may extend project times or cause complications, while during peak times (usually the summer months), contractors are in high demand and their services come at a higher price.
- Employing additional experts: As part of your project, you may need to hire a draftsperson, architect or construction manager.
Site Preparation Details
As part of clearing a site or preparing ground for excavation or building, professional contractors may undertake a series of tasks:
- Acquire Permits: It's your responsibility to check with your local planning department to ensure you have the necessary authorization for your project. Your building permit may cover the permission to clear ground, but if you need an additional permit, your contractor or construction manager may complete the paperwork and submit the request on your behalf.
- Clearing: Clearing is the process of removing brush and trees.
- Grubbing: Grubbing involves the removal of tree stumps. Pros may burn stumps on site, where possible.
- Grading: Uneven ground isn't suitable for building, so contractors grade it. This process involves cutting (removing dirt to lower the elevation of the ground) and filling (adding dirt to increase the elevation of the ground).
- Demolition: If there are existing buildings, the contractor must tear them down as part of the clearing process.
- Clean-Up: After clearing, it may be necessary to clean the site in preparation for the next stage of construction.
Land Clearing Companies
In some cases, you have the option to clear land yourself, especially if you’re only tackling a small project such as laying a new patio. Although doing this saves on contractor's fees, there are still many costs involved, including hiring or purchasing chainsaws, backhoes, trucks and other heavy equipment, as well as the cost of your own time and effort. Additionally, heavy-duty tools are dangerous and require training to use safely.
In many cases, it's better to seek the services of a professional land clearing company by using ImproveNet's online search function. Such companies have all of the necessary tools and equipment, and the skill to use them safely. Larger companies also employ teams of workers to speed up the clearing process and keep the project moving quickly.
Whether you’re looking for an architect, excavation team or demolition company, you should always check references, and ensure each company is properly insured and licensed. When the contractor visits the site to make a quotation, talk through any special considerations, such as vegetation that you want to keep, and the position of drainage, gas mains, water pipes and septic tanks. Make sure you understand what work the company is agreeing to undertake, and what tasks incur additional fees.
Find A Pro
Clearing and excavating land to a high standard provides a firm foundation for the rest of your building project, so don't cut corners. To ensure a good job that adheres to all building and zoning regulations, find a pro in your area by shopping for quotes. It's a good idea to get several quotes, rather that employing the first contractor you find. Remember, sometimes you get what you pay for. It may be worth spending a bit more money for a contractor with a proven track record and solid reviews from previous clients.
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Last updated on Feb 16, 2017