Before we discuss site preparation cost, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what site preparation entails. Typically, it means clearing land to create a level site in order to build a structure. Other reasons for land clearing are to plant grass, improve a view or for fire safety (to name just a few).
Site preparation can include various steps, each with their own costs. The actual clearing and leveling of the land is just one component of the overall costs.
What is included in site preparation
- Land survey. Prior to clearing the land, a land survey is done to ensure you are not about to dig over utilities or on someone else’s property.
- Site clearing/leveling. This is the first step in site preparation. It’s when the contractor removes trees/vegetation, rocks, underground infrastructure, buildings, and any other debris from the site. Next, you must level the site to ensure it’s suitable for building.
- Site surveying. At this point, the surveyor determines where the building should go on the site.
- Soil testing. During this step, the engineer performs soil testing to ensure the composition of the soil is suitable for construction.
- Site plan design. The next step is designing the structure’s underground components such as pipes.
- Site investigation. This is the last step of site preparation when the engineer reviews the data to evaluate whether the site is good for construction.
The cost of site preparation for a construction project depends on various factors such as the amount of clearing required and size of the land. However, on average, you can expect to pay between one to two dollars per square foot of land.
In general, it’s during the first stage of site preparation when there’s a chance for your costs to significantly increase. Read on to learn about some of these factors when clearing and leveling your site.
Site preparation cost factors
In addition to the costs associated with the six areas above, the following can also contribute to the overall cost of the project:
Land size. The larger your piece of land, the more it will cost to clear it.
Land location. If your land is near utility lines (above or below ground), it may be difficult to use heavy equipment. This situation will increase costs in terms of labor wages.
Extra services. Some sites may need extra services and each of these will add to the overall cost of your project. See below for some examples:
- Existing structures. Some lots have existing structures (e.g. an old building’s remains, a shed, a house, etc.) on the site. They need to be removed to clear the lot for construction.
- Tree and stump removal. If you want to take down existing trees, you’ll need to pay an expert to cut them. Then depending on the size of the remaining stumps, you will also need to have them removed. The tree service can grind the stumps but larger ones will need the excavation equipment to remove them from the property.
- Brush removal. Some lots have thick underbrush, which must be cleared and hauled away. This service is an added cost.
- Erosion control. When you clear land, the soil is prone to erosion (especially if the land slopes.) Thus, you need pay for soil erosion prevention measures to keep the soil in place i.e., installing metal braces and edging.
- Resloping. You may need to reslope the land after clearing to prevent flooding. You’ll need to pay for resloping, which involves bringing in topsoil to the site.
There is a lot more to site preparation than just bulldozing the land and leveling it for your project. Make sure you are aware of potential cost involved in your project. Contact an expert early in the process to help you plan your construction project.