Most excavation work requires heavy machinery, which means that it’s challenging for property owners to take a DIY approach for land excavation and grading. Residential excavation costs are affected by many factors, such as the type of equipment required, the amount of work that needs to be completed, and which contractor you choose to hire.
As you are looking at the expenses for grading and excavating, remember that these costs aren’t optional. Your lot needs to be carefully prepared before undertaking any project. Working on the property and the land ensures that you have a solid base for the foundation of a building or other landscaping needs that will be followed.
Type of Equipment for Residential Excavation
What type of equipment will your contractor bring for residential excavation? Typically, heavy machinery is transported to the site, giving the crew access to tools that improve the project’s efficiency and quality.
Digging often requires the use of an excavator or backhoe loader. For small and medium-sized projects, a backhoe loader can be a great solution because it includes both a front shovel-bucket as well as a rear-mounted digging bucket (often designed with a two-part hinged arm). Excavators are designed with a cab, boom, and bucket — all mounted on a platform that rotates. This platform is attached to tracks with wheels that move similar to a tank.
A good contractor owns their own equipment. So, residential excavation costs help cover the man hours, cost of purchasing the equipment, and transportation and maintenance. These large machines can be quite expensive, which is why the excavation team needs to charge appropriately to cover the expenses.
On the other hand, some excavation contractors don’t own their equipment. Instead, they must rent out the heavy equipment for each project. The rental costs are passed on to the clients, with the ability to customize the rental depending on each project’s specific needs.
Land Excavation Costs
It’s a good idea to talk to a local contractor if you need more information about residential excavation costs. We offer support for a variety of construction projects, including both small and large sites.
With land excavation, this category can include everything from preparing a site before construction to digging a hole for a swimming pool installation. Here are a few examples of how pricing might be affected, depending on the type of project and the lot conditions:
- In-Ground Swimming Pool: If you are excavating to dig an in-ground pool, then it might be as cheap as $1,500 if the soil is soft and without obstructions or boulders. On the other hand, this price can be as high as $15,000 – $20,000 when there are significant challenges on the job site, such as boulders, hardpan, or rocks.
- New House Construction: The cost of foundation excavation depends on the size of the foundation and the depth needed. For example, if the property only has a crawl space instead of a full basement with 10’ ceilings, then excavation costs will be cheaper. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the size of the foundation that is needed.
- Excavating Around an Existing House: Sometimes excavation is required near an existing house, such as digging to create footer drains and a waterproof barrier outside the current basement. Expert skills are needed to complete this project without damaging the foundation of the existing structure. For example, this type of excavation can run anywhere from $5,000 – $15,000 to get the job done right.
One crucial factor is the way the dirt is moved, with the goal of meeting the future needs of the project. If excavation is done for new construction, then it requires much more than digging a hole where the foundation will be laid. Often, the excavators also need to be proactive about setting aside the topsoil so it can be used for backfilling again later. When the construction work is complete, the excavation often needs to be refilled. Or, the topsoil can be essential for landscaping grading that will be done when construction is finished.
Yard Grading Costs
While some yard grading can be done with DIY equipment, it often makes sense to bring in an experienced excavation team to clear the property. Yard grading can be completed in just a day or two with the right equipment. On the other hand, not having the right tools requires many more working hours, often resulting in DIY that requires multiple days of work.
A backhoe loader might be used for yard grading. Or sometimes it’s better to use skid steer loaders or compact track loaders. The terrain of the property and size of the project will determine the type of equipment we bring to the site.
Other factors that can affect these yard grading costs include current conditions that need to be cleared, as well as your goals for the finished landscaping. For example, the cost of removing brush and trees with the excavation increases the prices. Not only do we need to take the time to pull out the trees and brush, but we’ll also need to haul everything away, so you have a clear lot for the new placement of landscaping features.
Excavation Cost Factors
Keep in mind that most excavation companies determine residential excavation costs by charging on an hourly basis, which can run anywhere from $40 – $150 depending on the type of equipment used. Even though this hourly billing is available for a wide variety of projects, the simplest solution is to bid on the project based on the number of cubic yards of dirt that you will be moving. So, you will receive a flat-fee proposal for residential excavation costs. Cubic yard costs can run anywhere from $200 – $1,200 or more, based on a variety of site factors that will affect the overall project.
Here’s an overview of some of the cost factors that are considered for residential excavation costs:
- Accessibility of the Job Site: Where is the job site located? The accessibility is a factor that will affect residential excavation costs. For example, heavy machinery needs to be transported to a distant location. The prices will then go up to cover the gas and time required to get the equipment to the right site. If you are looking for ways to reduce your costs, choose a local team to reduce the needed transportation time.
- Type of Project: Your goals for the excavation will affect the amount of money you will pay for the services. We’ll talk to you about the kind of project and determine a specific scope of work needed.
- Type of Equipment: As mentioned above, different kinds of equipment might be required, depending on the specific needs that should be addressed on the job site. Heavy machinery comes with various sizes and features, including smaller, maneuverable equipment if the team is working in tight conditions.
- Size of the Project: How big is the lot? How much dirt needs to be moved? The size of the project matters because it affects how much time is necessary. Additionally, the lot size influences the decision regarding the type of equipment brought to the location.
- Site Geology: There are drastic differences in the work required, depending on the type of dirt you are dealing with on each job site. For example, extra care is needed for soft soil vs. large boulders or hardpan. We always take a thorough approach to evaluate the site before providing a proposal. This investigation gives us valuable information to dial in the request accurately.
- Site Cleanup: One factor that can increase the residential excavation costs is if soil remediation is required. Property owners can hire a team to test the soil for potential contaminants. When these issues are identified, then it’s essential to hire an experienced remediation team to improve the site before the project begins. Handling soil remediation right now is a cheaper solution than working through potential issues in the future.
- Special Features: What is the purpose of the excavation project? Moving a little dirt around to prepare for landscaping will likely cost less than a significant foundation digging project. You also need to discuss other factors that could increase the price. For example, if you are digging out an old swimming pool, the materials need to be removed and transported to a disposal site.
- Plans for the Dirt: Will the dirt just be moved around on the property, or is it necessary to haul the dirt away? Anytime dirt transportation is required, you can expect residential excavation costs to go up. For example, our proposal process factors in the price of the hauling of topsoil to the site and the removal of unneeded soil from the property.
- Underground Obstructions: This project’s cost will also be affected by any underground obstructions that need to be addressed. When the digging hits a rock shelf, different strategies need to be used to complete it. Not only will it require more time, but it’s common for us to need other equipment, depending on the circumstances.
- Site Considerations: Is there an existing structure or other site features that the excavators will need to work around? Moving dirt on a wide-open, empty lot is quite different than working near other facilities. When buildings are nearby, the excavation team needs to use extreme caution to avoid disrupting the dirt and causing issues with the foundation. As a result, tight spaces sometimes require specialized equipment and a highly skilled excavation team.
Each excavation project is unique, which is why there isn’t a simple answer for residential excavation costs. The best way to learn more about a project’s pricing is to talk to an experienced contractor for more information. As we learn more about your site and the excavation requirements, then we can offer personalized advice for each customer. We’ll put together a proposal for the work, giving you full-service information so you know about the equipment we are using and the estimated time to completion.
Why Do You Need an Excavating Contractor?
Do you need to hire an experienced contractor for excavation work? Or, is this project something you can do on your own? If you need to clear a site, you won’t regret the decision to bring in an experienced team for assistance. These professionals do the work that prepares the ground so that foundations are correctly completed.
First, the site is cleared, including the removal of old buildings, boulders, trees, or anything else that might get in the way of construction. Once everything is removed, then it is time to start digging the foundation. Each site plan has specifications for the trenches that will be required for foundation placement. Your excavation team will match the ground to ensure quality results when the foundation is poured.
The job isn’t done when the site is ready for foundation placement. After construction is underway, then it’s also crucial for the excavation contractor to backfill topsoil around the new foundation. Rest assured knowing that these backfilling and follow-up steps are typically included in residential excavation costs. We work hard to give you a full-service proposal that encompasses everything required from start to finish.
Also, consider the safety of handling heavy machinery. Most people aren’t trained to drive heavy equipment, which could cause serious safety issues if you attempt a DIY project. Hiring an excavation contractor gives you more than a professional team – you also have access to the right equipment needed for the job. You can have confidence knowing that these team members hold the proper certifications and training to operate the machinery required for excavation.
What questions do you have about residential excavation costs? If you’d like to talk to an industry expert about commercial or residential excavation, then Mikula Contracting is here to help. We provide a full range of excavation services, including foundation digging, swimming pool preparation, land clearing, and more. Talk to us to learn about available services, and we’ll gladly put together a proposal for your project. We want to work together to make your project a success.