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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Construction & Renovation > Land Grading

Land Grading Cost

How Much Does Land Grading Cost?

low costScraper Attachment Rental: $50-$70 Per Dayaverage costBackhoe Rental: $100-$200 Per Dayhigh costEquipment with Operator: $200-$1,200+ Per Day
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Land grading or leveling reshapes the ground's surface to a planned shape, level or slope. Typically done using heavy machinery, land grading is common in construction, landscaping or drainage correction projects. Grading is done to control surface runoff and soil erosion; to create a more suitable site for buildings, facilities, landscaping or other uses; and/or to route storm runoff and other excess moisture away from a house foundation or other structures. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a land grading overview[1] .

Typical costs:

  • Depending on the specific site and task, land grading can be done with a wide range of earthmoving equipment such as a skid steer loader (a small machine with lift arms that accept a variety of attachments), a bulldozer, a tractor with a scraper or planer attachment, or other machinery, from small to large. Costs vary depending on whether the land is being graded to grow grass, put in a pond or build a house.
  • Renting a scraper attachment for a small tractor or similar machinery for a straightforward project like leveling a gravel driveway can cost $50-$70 a day. Renting a small backhoe can cost $100-$200 for a half-day or day, depending on location and model.
  • Hiring an operator and a bulldozer, skid steer loader or similar equipment can cost $50-$150 or more an hour, depending on local rates and the type and size of equipment used. Many heavy equipment companies charge for travel and set-up time, and have a two- to eight-hour minimum ($200-$1,200); others offer package prices. For example, Dustin Curtis Bobcat Land Grading in Florida will grade a patio at a pool site for $200 or offers a $250 coupon for up to six consecutive hours by a Bobcat skid steer loader and operator; while Chuck's Backhoe Service[2] in Florida charges $54 an hour for a Bobcat skid steer with an operator and $71 an hour for a bulldozer with an operator, including two hours standard travel time and a four-hour minimum. KP Kauffman Company in Colorado and New Mexico charges $75-$80 an hour for a bulldozer or grader with an operator plus a 15% fuel surcharge. Addison Equipment Rental[3] in California charges $143-$181 an hour for a bulldozer, grader or finish scraper with a union operator.
Related articles: Backhoe, Land Clearing, House Foundation, Building a Custom Home

What should be included:
  • A company representative (or the backhoe operator if it's a one-person company) will typically visit the site and review the planning documents (a building plan, landscape plan or similar) before giving an estimate. The Metropolitan Council in Minnesota explains construction grading practices.
  • The land should be cleared of all vegetation and other obstacles before grading begins. See How Much Does Land Clearing Cost.
  • Topsoil is valuable, so usually the first step is to strip away and stockpile the layer of topsoil on the site. The grading process varies depending on site circumstances and the type of equipment used. Videos demonstrate using a box blade behind a tractor[4] , a grading scraper behind a small tractor[5] , a skid steer with a land plane[6] and hillside grading with a bulldozer[7]
  • For small residential landscaping projects, explains do-it-yourself grading[8] using a level, duct tape, shovels, a wheel barrow and a 2x4 board.
Additional costs:
  • Check with the local zoning and planning departments; a grading permit is typically required. Fees may be based on the amount of soil to be removed or a percentage of the cost of the grading project. This can be $25-$100 for extremely small projects, or $200-$1,000 or more depending on the size of the project and the local fee structure.
  • In some circumstances, land grading can be tax deductible according to Texas A&M University[9] . Check with an accountant, tax attorney or tax preparer to find out if a specific project is deductible.
Shopping for land grading:
  • Find a local rental company through the American Rental Association[10] .
  • To find a heavy equipment company that does land grading, ask for referrals from local contractors or at nearby hardware and home improvement stores. Ask for and check references. Verify that the company is properly insurance, bonded and licensed[11] ; search for any complaints with the Better Business Bureau[12] . Request a written contract or agreement that specifies the work to be done and the rates to be charged.
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Amount: $2,786.00
Posted by: M. King in Calera, AL.Posted: August 21st, 2012 06:08PM
Type of Equipment: BobcatType of Excavation: Grading, Sloped
Graded 54 x 40 feet, 2" slope to 10 feet down toward back. Removeed all vegetation. Applied poison, landscape box with double 2 x 12 in back, mounted with 4 x 4 post - all treated lumber, standard treat landscape timbers on all other sides. 2" Thick pea gravel of my choice on top.
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land grading
Amount: $12,000.00
Posted by: RP in Long Island, OH.Posted: October 15th, 2011 09:10AM
Type of Equipment: landscape coType of Excavation: top layer
about 20,000 sq feet, poor drainage, sandy soil, horrible grass. scrapped off top layer of soil/vegitation. regrade, removed a few trees, about 4 large dump trucks of topsoil, shaped several planting beds, seeded entire area.
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