Some homeowners want to clear a piece of property because it’s about to be the site of their dream home. Others want to clear the space to make way for a fantastic outdoor recreation area, a place where family and friends can gather and enjoy a warm summer’s evening.
In the age-old housing debate between building your own home and buying a new one, most focus on the cost of materials, labour, stamp duty and the parcel of land itself. Certainly, the variability also makes it difficult to gauge — for example, while some people will choose larger homes on a smaller lot in a popular city, others will choose less square footage on a larger lot located in more rural settings.
However, one thing that all homeowners forget to consider is the actual cost to clear the land. So, while the median price to build a home from scratch could be between $180,000 - $560,000, the price doesn’t necessarily include factors like land clearing costs.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about land clearing prices in Australia and how to best calculate the affordability of this essential service for your new home.
What does land clearing entail?
You may have heard of land clearing in the context of agricultural production. It’s one of the primary steps in the development process, which includes preparing the land for a particular use by ‘clearing’ it of natural debris.
This debris includes organic matter like trees, plants, and shrubs that occupy a piece of land, as well as rocks and boulders. Land clearing services may also level the land so that it’s ready for use for residential and commercial purposes.
Once the land has been cleared, further development can begin. Sometimes, this means paved roads and suburban divisions, while at other times, land clearing can be used to help cattle and sheep grazing as well as wheat production.
However, land clearing in Australia has to be done responsibly and in conjunction with the approval of local councils as there are restrictions in place. That’s because unchecked land clearing activities have contributed quite a bit to deforestation, desertification, and animal extinction across the country.
That’s why developers — and homeowners — need to ensure that the arborists and land-clearing professionals they work with are skilled in safely removing tree debris.
If you’ve ever tried to clear land yourself, you’ll know that it’s a laborious process. And, depending on the size of the lot itself, it can be near impossible, requiring specialty heavy machinery. Lastly, some trees cannot be cleared because of local bylaws — and hired site clearing experts will already know about these.
Their services usually include surveying a property and reviewing:
- The size, in height and diameter, of trees and shrubs, as well as the species (to determine hardness)
- The number of trees and how far apart they’re spaced (how easy it is to move around them)
- The number of hills and slopes in the area
- Any other debris like rocks, which can pose a risk to equipment
What is the average cost to clear an acre of land?
The above factors present on your property will affect site clearing costs, so there is some variability in average land clearing prices. For example, a heavily wooded area is obviously going to be much more labour-intensive because there is a greater number of trees and organic matter spaced closer together than other types of semi-developed land.
What needs to be removed, the size of the land and the purpose of removal will affect land clearing rates. Land clearing costs per acre could be as low as $2,000, which is $500 for a quarter-acre. However, this could go as high as $7,000. The average range for land clearing prices in Australia falls somewhere between $1,150 and $3,790.
Is it cheaper to clear your own land?
When determining for yourself whether it’s cheaper (or not) to clear your own land, there are two factors to consider. The first is, of course, the size of your property. The second is what type of equipment you may need.
You should first begin by getting a few quotes from professional land clearing companies. You should then compare these to the prices of equipment purchase and equipment rental. In the final analysis, you may find that the cost to clear a block of land simply isn’t economical.
For example, you may decide that you need a bulldozer to clear your land. This would cost you around $445 for a full day and $1,330 for a week.
Land clearing costs per hour can run between $150 to $250. But these land clearing rates also include a qualified operator, take care of fuel costs, and take charge of insurance. If you don’t have the expertise to operate or handle a bulldozer, then you’ll need to hire an operator besides hiring a bulldozer rental. Since it takes about 4 hours to clear an acre of land, that’s a cost of about $1,000.
So, is it cheaper to clear your own land? If you evaluate only the price points, it is. But you must also account for hiring a skilled operator and the complexity of your land, the fuel costs, and more when considering the cost of clearing land to build on.
What is the best equipment to clear land?
The type of land clearing equipment you rely on for DIY land clearing depends on how much debris you have to remove and the size of the land itself. Equipment you may need includes:
- Mowers and mulchers — These pieces of equipment will help you tame wild overgrowth and chew up underbrush and small trees. This will make it easier to haul off the debris, but you may still need large dump trucks to help you lift, manage, and transport the organic matter you clear with these machines.
- Stump grinders — Stump grinders are precisely what they sound like: they help cut tree stumps down so that they’re level with the topsoil. Even if you’re not clearing land to build on and simply want to expand your garden, you’ll still need to make sure that the land is cleared of tree stumps.
- Bulldozers — Though this may sound like a heavy-duty piece of equipment, bulldozers can clear up some of the trickier debris like rocks, woodlands, and even uneven land. It digs up the topsoil to make room for foundations and concrete.
What do you do with trees when land clearing?
Arborists and site clearing companies will usually handle this part of the job for you. However, if you’re planning on clearing land yourself, you’ll need to find sites in your local area that either accept stumps and other organic debris or will come to your lot and use a sawmill to salvage and repurpose your old trees.
Make sure that you account for this service as part of the overall land clearing costs and process. Not every service provider will take care of disposal, so make sure you know what your money is covering.
Does clearing land increase property value?
Yes, clearing your land increases property value because it means that you’ve taken responsibility for the cost to clear a block of land. Any future purchasers won’t have to pay for this.
Additionally, clearing land means that it’s ready for further development. So even if you clear your land but don’t build a home (or garden) on it, you’ll still make a profit because the land has been levelled, graded, and is construction-ready.
How can I prepare land for my house?
Clearing the land — and site clearing costs associated with it — is just one part of the complete land preparation process.
Essentially, you’re preparing a piece of land for major development and construction. So, some of the steps you’ll need to take include:
- Surveying and evaluating the land (pre-land clearing)
- Rough grading and excavation
- Clearing the land, including debris and vegetation
- Checking the land’s utility lines, as well as access to water, power, and a sewer
- Considering critical design factors like location of future trees, plants, and shrubs, the location of power lines, and perimeter access (which means ensuring there’s enough space for construction equipment and materials on-site)
Organising land clearing quotes for your site doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, with iseekplant, we make it simple! We’re Australia’s largest online construction hire marketplace which means you can find affordable quotes for everything from bulldozer hire through to land clearing. Do a quick search now and take a look at the range of options waiting for you!