Earthworks Cost Guide: How much do earthworks services cost?

Two contractors on a construction site sitting in a large machine

In Australia, residents and businesses use excavation to prepare the ground for crops, farms, plumbing and septic systems, basements, roadways, and pathways. You may also require excavation if you're landscaping, building retaining walls, constructing a pool, building on a sloping block, upgrading your house, and for other construction projects.

However, excavation projects frequently need the use of heavy machinery such as backhoes, bulldozers, excavators, and loaders with an operator. Hence, it is important that you include this into your total budget when planning for the projects.

Excavation charges are typically between $400 and $1500, depending on the complexity of the job. Though, the topography, tree density, location, site preparation, and size of the excavation site, as well as the technology utilised to excavate it, affect the cost of excavation services. In this article, we will provide an in-depth examination of excavation costs in different cities across Australia.

Why hire a professional excavation team

On average, renting excavation equipment costs between $550 and $900 per day. Homeowners may save money by renting the machinery and excavating themselves. However, executing the project using DIY techniques is often stressful and time-consuming. Here are some advantages of hiring professional excavators.

Experience and knowledge: Knowing suitable excavation procedures makes a significant difference in the quality of work performed by experienced excavators and speeds up and smooths out the excavation jobs.

Efficiency: Professional excavators can remove trees, rocks, and sand more swiftly and efficiently than amateurs can in a week.

Safety: Professionals are well trained in avoiding excavation risks, such as falling into trenches, being struck by excavated objects, becoming trapped and harming them, and being exposed to airborne toxins and above and underground assets.

Promptly identify and solve problems: Professional excavators are capable of rapidly assessing a hazardous, precarious, or difficult situation, diagnosing the underlying concerns, and taking suitable action.

Average excavation costs

Excavator on site digging

On average, excavation costs range from $70 to $150 per hour. However, professional excavation companies may charge between $800 and $6,500 on average. Different factors such as the type of project, equipment needed for the project, amount of labour, type of soil, and the season during which the excavation project is executed may affect the overall land excavation cost.


How do excavation costs vary by state?

Below is the excavation cost in various Australian states and territories:

South Australia

Excavation services in South Australia cost around $80 per hour. This is the least of any state in Australia.

Western Australia

Residents of Western Australia pay about $88 per hour for their excavation projects.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, excavation services cost around $90 per hour.


The average cost of excavation work in Queensland is $90 per hour.


The hiring cost for excavators in Victoria is $90 per hour.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Of all Austrian cities and territories, hiring costs for excavators in the Australian Capital Territory remains the most expensive. The excavation cost is $100 per hour.

*All these prices may vary from contractor to contractor, so always discuss hire rates with them before hiring. 

Factors that determine excavation costs

Surveyor watching excavators on site and measuring the site

Numerous factors affect the excavation cost of a project and raise the cost per cubic metre of excavation. These include:

The project's size

Smaller excavation operations requiring the use of small two-tonne excavators or bobcats can cost as little as $95 per hour. The hourly rate for larger tasks needing 6-tonne excavators begins at $105 per hour. Excavation jobs that need excavators and tip trucks can cost up to $140 and above per hour.

Site accessibility

If access to the job site is difficult for employees and equipment, excavation expenses will be higher than if access is easier.

The nature of the project

The cost of site excavation varies according to the scope of the project. The cost of a basic pool excavation might begin at $500. However, pool excavation prices can range from $3,000 to more than $3,000, depending on the size, shape, and kind of soil to be dug. The average cost of excavation for a house foundation is between $800 and $15,000. Basement excavation costs between $2,000 and $13,000. The typical cost of excavating a driveway or pathway space in Australia is between $500 and $900.

Equipment employed

The equipment utilised affects the excavator cost per hour. Excavator and operator rental fees may skyrocket when specialised equipment such as 2 or 8-ton excavators, bulldozers, compactors, and tip trucks is used. Mini dumpers, augurs, diamond drills, and other equipment mounted on a track can cost an extra $200 to $800 per day.

The soil type

The kind of soil removed affects the cost of the project. The cost of excavating regular sandy high bulk density soil is between $30 and $50 per cubic metre. However, if vegetation, trees, roots, logs, rocks, boulders, and other big waste must be removed, the cost per cubic metre of excavation can increase to between $40 and $150. The cost of rock extraction per cubic metre and excavator wet hiring are on the high side.


The location of excavation sites affects the cost of the project. Excavation projects in South Australia cost $20 per hour higher than in Western Australia.

Labour rate

Labour costs affect excavation costs. In Western Australia, labourers earn roughly $40 per hour. Hiring excavation project employees costs around $50 per hour in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria.

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Estimating the cost of various excavation projects

Estimates for various excavating jobs vary according to the amount of work, equipment, labour, and time required to complete the project.

Clearing of land or site preparation

Land clearance is the process of clearing an area of trees, plants, bushes, soil, rocks, and garbage using chainsaws, bulldozers, and excavators. Land clearing or site preparation costs can range from $30 per acre for lightly forested bushland to $1,000 to $5,000 per acre for severely overgrown bushland, depending on the site's size, geography, ease of access, and the number of trees, soil, and rocks to be removed.


Typically, the cost of excavating land for a driveway is between $400 and $750. Excavation charges for installing a 3-metre by 6-metre driveway on a flat area might range from $250 to $500. It might cost up to $400 extra to build it on a slanted surface.


Excavating the foundation of a house costs between $700 to $13,000, depending on the size of the structure, the number of employees, and the type of specialised gear used to excavate the foundation. The average cost of house excavation work is between $2,000 and $5,000.

Septic tanks & plumbing

In Australia, excavating a 35-metre trench for plumbing and septic system installation might cost between $350 and $1,500, depending on the intricacy of the operation. The average homeowner pays around $850. For between $140 and $500, some property owners rent a trencher.


Basement excavations of 6 metres x 4 metres x 1 metres begin at around $2,000. Complex basements of comparable size might cost between $8,000 and $15,000. A 100-square-metre basement excavation may easily cost between $15,000 and $25,000.


Excavation of a pool area requires the aid of a competent excavation team. The pool excavation costs might range between $500 and $3,000

Rock excavation

Excavation of rocks of various sizes is a necessary stage in the construction of roads, swimming pools, basements, and building foundations. The cost of rock excavation is typically between $30 and $100 per cubic metre.

The average cost of hiring excavation equipment

Large yellow excavator on construction site near the water

Excavators are available for hire at hourly or daily rates. The length of time required affects the project's cost. Due to the unique nature of each site, there is no set pricing for excavation. Prices vary according to the location, topography, size, and complexity of the excavation work. Equipment is hired by the hour, which includes the cost of hiring an operator. If you want to hire an excavator, you can expect to pay from:

  • $95 per hour for a bobcat or two-tonne mini excavator
  • $105 per hour for a 6-tonne excavator
  • $140 per hour for excavator and tip truck services

Additionally, there may be a charge for attachments, such as:

  • $500 per day for the use of a diamond blade rock saw
  • $180 for a day to use an Auger
  • $100 per day for rock grabbing

Certain firms may additionally charge afloat, which is a fee for transporting the machine from their location to your site and back, which should be factored into your budget.

Find excavation services with iseekplant

The excavation process is a complicated and strenuous task. The cost of the job usually depends on the complexity of the project. It is often advisable that you hire an expert to help with your various excavation needs. You can request quotes from different professional excavation contractors to compare prices with our Get a Quote Tool.

If you are looking for some of the best excavation services in Australia, we are always available to help. Our trusted experts can help you find a reputable excavation service that best suits your needs. Contact our team today to get started on 1300 691 912 or email our projects team today.

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