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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

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, en.allexperts.com 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.
Discounts:
  • 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. 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
Small Project for Aboveground Pool
Amount: $200.00
Posted by: Needed leveling for a pool in San Jose, CA.Posted: May 6th, 2021 01:05AM
Type of Equipment: By Hand / Tools + SoilType of Excavation:
We asked our normal gardener who charges $40 a visit to level a small rectangle of our backyard (30'x15') for an aboveground pool.
We asked for an estimate, and at first they said $450, and we asked for what? We don't need sod. They came back and offered to do it for $200.
About 2 people finished the project in under 2 hours. The did it all by hand -- I didn't hear them using a tractor.
They cut the lawn very short, then (I assume) ground up all the grass using hoes and other hand-tools, then laid extra soil to even things out, then raked it flat.
The land was pretty nasty beforehand -- clumpy with weeds, w/mounds of tough, rock-like ground where a tree used to be.
When I set up my above-ground pool last year, I was afraid it'd tip because the ground was lump & uneven. It's about 85% better now. I'm satisfied with the work and price -- it seems "good enough" now, without my having to do backbreaking work that would've taken me an afternoon or more, plus I didn't have the tools.
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Land Grading
Amount: $350.00
Posted by: Walker's Landscaping Lawn Care & Yard Designs in Bolivia, NC.Posted: February 14th, 2019 04:02AM
Type of Equipment: 30 hp tractor w/any attachment necessaryType of Excavation: Any
These are the rates that I've been putting out for 30 horsepower tractor. I 100% understand the gentleman from California who is having to maintain Nur equipment and a hearty range. I don't think these prices reflect the work that he's doing anyways, it sounds more commercial to me. But for the most part a guy in a cracker with maybe a dump truck can you get plenty of work for about three hundred and fifty bucks a day to build a parking lot or greater Road out what do a little bit of bush hogging. But don't expect to get prices that good whenever you need a dozer or a large-scale excavator. The cost of the machine will not reflect, the fees of tractor work. However, that doesn't mean spending the money on this type of equipment isn't worth it. Generally large equipment can cut a job down from weeks to days, which will in turn sometimes save you money. Simply because the work is being done quicker even though you're paying more per day for the machine and operator.
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FYI
Amount: $0.00
Posted by: Craig Weigand in Hesperia, CA.Posted: March 28th, 2016 04:03PM
Type of Equipment: Backhoe,Bulldozer,Grading TractorType of Excavation: General
I have been in business for over 30 years and am very concerned with the information you are distributing. With the average cost of a new backhoe around $100,000.00, midsize new bulldozer over $200,000.00, and new grade tractor edging up on $100,000.00 I personally could not afford to work close to any of the numbers quoted. Granted I am in California and our government will not allow us to run anything older then 2008 commercially(tier III or higher carb compliant), which I would honestly love to do as I have machines which are no where near worn out and rendering a fraction of newer values. Working around large projects in recent years I have seen cubic yardage prices exceed $100.00 dollars per cubic yard yes $100.00 per cubic yard. No I am absolutely not trying to drive up cost and am considered far too competitive by most of my competitors, I simply wish to point out the reality of my business. Thank You for the opportunity to say my piece and God Bless America !
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Landscaping
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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External Resources:
  1.  cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/menuofbmps/index.cfm?action=browse&Rbutton=detail&b...
  2.  www.chucksbackhoe.com/equipment.html
  3.  www.addisonequipment.com/rates.html
  4.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=MopiqcljEhc&NR=1&feature=fvwp
  5.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUN_b_6--4E
  6.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3tTfRHoAFQ
  7.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki2qE8Np3wg&NR=1&feature=fvwp
  8.  en.allexperts.com/q/Landscaping-Design-724/Grading-Yard.htm
  9.  recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/1752.pdf
  10.  www.rentalhq.com/
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