How much does it cost to clear land?
Land clearing costs between $1,200 and $6,000, on average. Removing land features such as concrete or tree stumps, the size of the land, and land grading all affect the total cost of land clearing.
Land clearing cost:
|Land grading||$5-$10 per sq. ft.|
|Debris removal||$135 per cubic yard|
|Tree and stump removal||$155-$2,000|
Hauling costs for debris removal average $135 per cubic yard, in general. Concrete removal can cost $650-$1,090. If there are trees and stump that need to be removed from the lot, you can expect to pay a tree service about $2-$4 per inch of diameter for large tree removal. Tree clearing costs can add up and range from $155-$2,000.
Land grading may cost $40-$180 per hour (or $5 to $10 per square foot) to ensure the clear land is ready for new work, with total project costs for grading costing anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Permits can run anywhere from $50-$250 (or more), and if a land survey is needed, it will add another $312-$750 to the overall cost.
Many home improvement projects require some site preparation before work begins. While this may seem to slow down the more exciting work like building a home or planting a new garden, it’s important to do things properly at the start. Let’s look at the factors that affect the land clearing prices so you can plan your project accordingly.
What’s in this cost guide?
Land clearing cost factors
When building a guest house, barn or home on a piece of land, or when embarking on a major landscaping project, clearing the land is an important first step.
Land clearing projects vary in scope and cost, depending on the square footage (or acreage) and the complexity of the work involved. The cost isn’t quite as simple as a flat rate per square foot, however, because every project will require different types of work, permits and land surveys. Ask a land clearing company for a free estimate, or ask multiple companies to quote the average cost before making your choice.
How much does it cost to clear land to build a house?
Clearing land to build a home could cost anywhere from $1,200-$4,000 or more. Clearing land for construction is much more complicated than clearing an overgrown backyard for landscaping.
Pedro Narvaez of AAA Concrete and Remodeling in Marietta, Georgia, bases cost 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 land clearing equipment or methods are required. “Every job is different,” Narvaez says.
Hauling costs average $135 per cubic yard nationwide. Hauling away the debris cleared from a site incurs an additional charge, depending on what is being removed.
For example, Narvaez owns a dump truck and charges $300 per load to haul away organic matter, trash or junk. Heavier debris, such as broken concrete, costs more because the landfill charges more to accept it.
Concrete removal costs
Expect to pay by the square foot if concrete removal is required. 4Sons Concrete in Portland, Oregon, charges the following for concrete removal:
- Standard concrete removal: $3-$4.50/sq. ft.
- Standard concrete removal over 800 square feet: $2.25-$3.75/sq. ft.
Some concrete removal specialists charge a minimum fee for smaller projects, such as removing walkways and sidewalk and to cover transportation costs, tools, labor and other business overhead. The company only agrees to remove a sidewalk if the company is hired to pour concrete at the same time. 4Sons Concrete charges $1,250 to remove and repour 1 yard of walkway.
Tree clearing cost
Expect to pay about $2-$4 per inch of diameter for large tree stump removal as part of a land clearing project. Tree stump removal entails removing the entire root ball of a tree from below the soil. This process leaves a large hole in the ground and takes considerably more time and labor than stump grinding. For an old tree with a large root system or one that's embedded in very hard soil, stump grinding may be more cost-effective than removal.
When grinding the stump, professionals use a chipping machine to grind away the above-level tree stump. The average cost for stump removal can range from $200-$300, while grinding a stump down could cost $160-$250. The final price will depend on the stump’s size, condition, location and condition of the soil around it.
Land grading costs
Land grading, or leveling uneven ground, costs an average of $5-$10 per square foot. The average total cost of land grading starts typically starts at $500 for minor home improvement projects and can cost more than$2,000 for areas over an acre. The total cost to hire a pro will vary depending how much land needs to be cleared, how severe the slope is and whether you need to install an irrigation system.
Land surveying costs
When clearing land to build a structure on it, a land survey may be required in addition to zoning permits. Land surveys add another $312-$750 to the overall cost.
Some land clearing projects may require a permit from the local planning department, depending on the applicable zoning laws. Just as a building permit was required to build the existing structures on your property, you may need a permit to clear the land before new work can take place.
The property owner is responsible for covering the costs of the necessary permits and inspections, which can run anywhere from $50-$250 (or more). Ask the land clearing company if they’ll check into local zoning and land clearing permits for you.
Who is responsible for underground utility identification?
For projects that require excavation, a representative of the local utility company or the local planning office may need to visit the site to help identify where underground pipes and other utility lines are buried. To avoid disruption of utility service and prevent injuries, it is very important to clearly flag lines and pipes before lot clearing begins.