How much does it cost to grade and prepare a lot for building?

Lot grading is essentially the process of reshaping the surface of a particular piece of land in order to prepare for a construction project, to keep the area stable, to increase the appeal of the property, and to solve an existing drainage issue.

There are a lot of aspects that we have to consider to determine the costs of grading a lot. On average, the usual rate is around 5 to 10 dollars for every square foot. Of course, this will depend on the specific project as some may cost more due to the location, difficulty, and the necessary equipment to be used for the process.

How much does it cost to prepare a lot for building?

Site preparations are essential before starting the building of a structure. Since getting a lot ready may require several processes such as clearing the lot of the trees, rocks, and debris and also leveling the area to help support the structure later, the expenses in doing so may quickly add up.

The average expense for site preparation in the United States alone can cost around 2,700 dollars. Here are some of the things that are usually necessary to prepare a site for a building project:

a)    Land survey

A survey report of a particular parcel of land allows its owner to learn about the important things that they should know about their property. As an example, it will show the property lines and the natural and man-made features around the area. As a result, it can be helpful for you to know about encroachments and other issues before you start spending money on your new building.

Depending on the type of survey and other factors, expect to pay around 500 dollars for the standard package.

b)    Lot clearing

Just like what we said earlier, lot clearing involves the process of removing all the obstructions that may be hindering the construction of the new structure or building. Using some tools or heavy machinery, trees, stumps, rocks, and other debris will be hauled, burnt, or turned into mulch for their disposal.

On average, lot clearing expenses will usually cost 600 dollars or more, depending on the size of the area.

c)    Lot grading

Lot grading involves the process of shaping the surface of the land to encourage water flow and prevent a damaged structure o foundation. Expect to pay a professional contractor around 5 to 10 dollars per square foot.

Is leveling a backyard expensive?

The cost to get a yard level will depend on a lot of factors. Since the word ‘expensive’ can be subjective, allow us to give you the average rate for the process instead. This could be around 2,000 dollars in the United States.

Now, you may be thinking, “Isn’t 2,000 dollars very costly for something that is just basically manipulating the soil around my yard?” This could be the case, however, it is certainly an investment you will not regret when it comes to your property.

Here are some of the other factors that will influence your total expenses:

1.    Your contractor’s labor fees

Depending on where you live, professionals who level backyards may charge more or less. If you live in the city, workers may charge higher due to their steeper living costs. On the other hand, if you live in a rural area, you should expect to pay for the contractor’s travel fees if you live far from the center population.

2.    The tools and equipment

For big properties, renting heavy machinery may be required to complete the job. Before hiring a worker, ask them if they have their own equipment or if they will rent them on their own for less hassle on your part.

3.    The project’s difficulty

The more complex the property is, the more time it will take to finish the work. Because of this, you may only have to pay a small amount if your area is not that poorly graded.

4.    The permits

If your project requires you to disturb tons and tons of dirt, you will need to obtain a permit. Call your contractor to see if you need to do so or ask your municipality to be sure.

Can you level a yard yourself?

Do you have a tight budget? Or do you simply want to be hands-on with your yard? If you prefer, it is absolutely possible to level a yard without hiring a professional contractor. After all, it is your yard, and you can certainly make your own choices as to which option you would like best. As long as you are confident with your skills and can access the necessary tools and equipment, you can try leveling your property on your own.

However, before doing so, you may want to check with your municipality first. The reason for this is because your little project may affect other neighboring properties in your area as well. Sure, you are doing the work on your own property, but this may cause water to runoff into your neighbors’ lawn or may increase the flooding risks and other potential hazards. To prevent further issues, it will always be better to be safe than sorry. After all, nobody wants to get sued or to pay for additional drainage after disturbing the system in the area.

Best tips for DIY leveling projects

Start by researching the regulations in your state or city.

We will never get tired of saying this: rules are there for a reason. They are not just there to get your money from securing permits. Instead, it allows you to know of the potential hazards in your area and also decreases the risk of damaging your property.

Prepare the necessary tools or equipment beforehand.

When it comes to leveling your yard, you can get by with just using manual tools. After all, not all of us have access to the fancy equipment and heavy machinery. For a convenient process, you should have the following:

  1. A landscaping rake
  2. A wheelbarrow or cart
  3. A flathead shovel
  4. A carpenter level
  5. A lawn roller
  6. Mulch or topsoil

Plan your landscape accordingly.

Before using that trusty landscaping rake, you should always have the ‘end in mind’ when it comes to these types of projects. After all, you will be spending all that time and resources to increase the appeal of your yard, and you deserve to make the best out of them. If you are planning to add vegetation later, you need to be sure that the area is level to prevent standing water. On the other hand, if you want to add a French drain later on, you may want to do so before leveling your property. Proper timing and research can certainly determine the success of your leveling project.

Always start with an inspection.

Before leveling, you should take a long and thorough look at your lawn. Take note of the low spots around the soil and mark them with a rake to remind you later. It would also be best to identify high spots in order for you to remove some of the excess soil away.

Patience is the key.

Once you are determined to do the leveling yourself, you should expect to spend a day or more to complete the outdoor project. Leveling a yard is not a quick and linear job and there are a lot of things you need to prepare and do. If you think that it will take you a long time to finish, there is always the option to hire an expert and let them do the work professionally.

How much dirt can you move without the need for a permit?

Securing permits can be expensive or be too much of a hassle for many property owners. However, they are necessary to keep your place and its surrounding area to continue to be safe and secure. Basically, not all outdoor projects require permits. As long as it is within the set rules and regulations of your area, then you may not need to do so for your residential area.

When it comes to moving dirt, will permits be necessary? As mentioned earlier, not all projects need permits. Usually, permits are not required if you are only moving small amounts of dirt. However, if you are disturbing more than 2,500 square feet of land, this is the time where you will need to contact your county or state to obtain them.

Take note – not all states and cities have the same minimum requirement when it comes to this matter. Because of this, we recommend doing your research or asking your local contractor just to be sure. You would not want to get in trouble with your municipality or be in an accident after carelessly moving dirt that should have been planned carefully. As with other things concerning your property, it would always be best to check with your area’s offices to make sure that you follow the rules to avoid fines and hazards.

Is the matter of obtaining a permit too difficult or complicated for you? If so, you can always hire a pro to do it for you. It will always be a bad idea to forego the permit just because you are unsure of the process. If you are hiring a contractor, ask them to do a preliminary inspection of your area to see if you will need a permit. Chances are, they may also include securing the permits with their services.