What's the Average Cost of Residential Land Excavation?

Andy Sparhawk
Written by Andy Sparhawk
Updated January 11, 2022
Pool excavation with equipment
Photo: Jodi Jacobson / E+ / Getty Images

Excavation costs range between $1,400 and $5,300

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Thinking of building a new home, swimming pool, or basement? First, you’ll need to make sure excavation costs, which average $3,200, fit into your home renovation budget. Many factors go into the price of a residential excavator, including the type of project, where you live, and renovation size.

How Much Does Excavation Cost?

Average excavation costs are $3,200, with individual project bids running at a rate of $50 to $200 per cubic yard. When you hire a general contractor to build your house, you’ll find they commonly subcontract for excavation as part of a larger project. If you hire directly, an excavator will provide a project bid by the cubic yard or by the hour. If you hire an excavation specialist, the cost estimate will be between $40 and $180 per hour. 

How Much Does Grading or Yard Leveling Cost?

Whether you’re putting in a retaining garden wall or a patio to relax with your partner, yard leveling services can make it happen. 

Land clearing ranges between $200 and $6,000 per acre. Add $0.47 to $2.28 per square foot onto these prices for grading or leveling out the cleared area. It can cost $20,000 to $100,000 to clear and level an acre of land, equivalent to 43,564 square feet.

How Much Does Excavation Cost Near You?

Excavators are specialist subcontractors. While excavators may set their own price, the region you live in may affect the quote you or your general contractor receive. 

Here’s a breakdown of excavation costs by state:

StateExcavation Cost
Alabama$6,200 – $9,000
Arizona$1,700 – $4,800
California$2,100 – $9,200
Indiana$970 – $3,000
Minnesota$1,800 – $3,400
New Hampshire$2,100 – $3,900
Wyoming$1,400 – $5,300

How Much Does It Cost to Excavate Land Yourself?

Interested in DIYing your excavation efforts? Excavating land yourself can save money, but you’ll need to rent equipment to get the job done. You’ll also need to take some safety precautions. Here’s a look at what you’ll need to excavate land for your home project.

Equipment Rental Costs

The type of equipment needed for excavation will significantly depend on what you need done and the area size. 

You can rent a tracker with a backhoe for $100 per hour or at a weekly rate of $2,200. Larger jobs, like a pool for the kids, will require more extensive equipment. The cost of equipment for larger jobs can increase by as much as 50%.

Security Precautions

Safety is always a concern when doing excavation work. Be sure to call your local utility company ahead of time to have a surveyor identify buried cables to avoid. Use the national call-before-you-dig number 811 to set up a visit. Additionally, you’ll need to take note of overhead wires to steer clear of when digging.

Excavation Cost Breakdown

Excavation costs are dependent on the scale and type of job. From the excavator cost to dig a basement to dirt removal, all of it can add up. 

Below is a breakdown of costs to consider for your excavation estimating.

CostAverage Price
Large scale grading$20,000 – $100,000
Land clearing$200 – $6,000
Dirt removal$8 – $25 per cubic yard
Cut and fill$1 – 15 per cubic yard
Trenching$400 – $1,200

How Much Does It Cost to Excavate by Project Type?

New construction requires excavation for home foundations. Other projects like pools, driveways, and landscapes all need soil and rock redistributed in some way. 

When your home goals involve a new build, don’t let a boulder or stubborn tree stump stand in the way. Hire an excavator to take care of these issues for you. Here’s a look at what your next excavation project might cost.

Basements

The cost to dig around an existing basement can cost between $5,000 and $15,000. You might need this type of excavation to fix foundation issues. The cost to dig a basement for new construction will run $1,500 and $6,000 for smaller jobs and up to $10,000 for large basements.

Patios and Driveways

Creating a graded space to lay pavers or pour concrete will cost between $1,000 and $2,500. This price changes based on accessibility. If the location is difficult to get to, the price will increase.

In-Ground Swimming Pool

You’ve got to dig in before you dive in. Excavation for an in-ground pool can run between $400 and $1,500.

Land Clearing

Excavation gives you the power to transform land to fit your vision. Removing large rocks and trees will cost between $40 and $100 a cubic foot. Other examples of clearing jobs include removing shrubs, reducing the risk of wildfires, and sloping improvements to avoid erosion. Each job can run as high as $6,000 to $8,000, depending on how large the area is and its overall terrain.

Plumbing

Trenching for piping is a part of any home design. A trencher helps create straight paths for plumbers to install pipes. Whether the trench is for your pool or bathroom, trenching costs between $6,000 and $10,000.

Landscaping

Excavation comes in handy when preparing your land for major landscaping. For instance, you will need to cut a trench for a fountain. Dirt removal costs run between $500 and $6,000. Need to dispose of excess soil to level or slope the yard? The further an excavator has to move soil, the more you will pay.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Excavation Work?

Besides the sheer size of the job, the challenge of the terrain will drive up costs. That’s why hiring an excavation specialist can help you avoid unexpected hassles and charges.

Size of Area and Accessibility

Excavators calculate costs based on the cubic yard of dirt moved or removed. The size of an area affects the cost of excavating. A small excavating job can cost about $100 per hour, but larger jobs can range between $1,500 and $5,000. Additionally, small, difficult-to-reach spaces and challenging terrain can increase the price of excavation.

Soil Type

Ideal excavation soil is loose and free of rocks and plant material. Soil with many rocks or clay deposits can increase the cost of excavating land, adding between $200 and $1,200 to the cost of the job.

Leveling Needs

Grading or leveling land is a standard job for specialized excavators. Creating a suitable surface to build on requires leveling hills and indentations in the ground. Often when grading, excess soil works to fill low spots. If the distance between the high and low areas is substantial, costs can rise from $1 to $12 per cubic yard.

Excavation Cost FAQs

Should I excavate in the summer?

It is a common belief that excavation is easier or less costly when done in the summer or when the ground is not frozen. Seasons have little effect on when excavation can occur; however, inclement weather can prolong the duration of the job and potentially increase costs.

How do I remove dirt?

Excavators work in tandem with dump trucks to haul away excess dirt and soil. Using a backhoe, the specialist can fill a truck with excavated soil to be disposed of at a different location.

Who do I call before I dig in my yard?

Planning to dig on your property? Call the national call-before-you-dig 811 number. Once connected to an operator, you can schedule a site visit to mark underground lines to avoid.

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