When building a guest house, barn or home on a piece of land, or when embarking on a major landscaping project, contractors may need to first clear the land. Land clearing jobs vary in scope and cost depending on square footage (or acreage) as well as the complexity of the work involved. Clearing land to build a home could cost anywhere from $1,200 to $4,000 or more. That kind of clearing job is much more complicated than, say, clearing an overgrown backyard to get it ready for landscaping. Pedro Narvaez of AAA Concrete and Remodeling in Marietta, Georgia, bases estimates for land clearing jobs on the extent of the clearing required, what’s being removed in the process (rocks, grass, concrete, etc.) and what type of equipment or methods are required. "Every job is different," Narvaez says.
Narvaez of AAA Concrete and Remodeling uses a Bobcat tractor with the appropriate attachments to clear an area of unwanted or dead landscaping and debris. A large job that takes eight hours using the Bobcat costs $400. If Narvaez can’t access the area to be cleared with the Bobcat, he will clear the area by hand using shovels and wheelbarrows, which will cost more because it’s more difficult work.
Hauling away the debris cleared from a site incurs an additional charge, depending on what is being removed. Narvaez of AAA Concrete and Remodeling also owns a dump truck and charges $300 per load to haul away organic matter, trash or junk. Heavier debris, such as broken up concrete, costs more because the landfill charges more to accept it. Hauling costs, in general, tend to be about $135 per cubic yard.
Removing a concrete patio can cost $400–$600 for unreinforced concrete, plus hauling costs. Dealing with concrete that has rebar reinforcements is more complicated and costs more
Narvaez of AAA Concrete and Remodeling does not typically remove large trees or tree stumps because he does not have the necessary equipment. He can, however, clear smaller trees and bushes using his Bobcat or manual tools. If an area to be cleared has a lot of large trees or stumps, the overall project costs will be higher. Expect to pay about $2–$4 per inch of diameter for clearing large trees. The cost of completely removing a tree will differ from grinding the stump, which involves using a chipping machine to grind away the above-ground tree stump.
Average labor costs for grading, or leveling, uneven ground are about $50–$70 per hour. Total project costs for grading can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the situation.
When projects require a lot of excavation, the local utility company or someone from the local planning office may need to visit the site to help identify where underground pipes and other utility lines are buried.
Some land clearing projects may require a permit, depending on the applicable zoning laws. The property owner is responsible for covering the costs of the necessary permits and inspections, which can run anywhere from $50 to $250 (or more).
When clearing land to build a structure on it, a land survey may be required in addition to zoning permits. Land surveys add another $265–$650 to the overall cost.
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