Excavation projects can change your landscape in a drastic way, and can be a very exciting endeavour as a homeowner. While cost should not be the main factor in deciding if you should have a project completed or not, you should make sure that you can get a project done properly for what you are able to afford, even if this means waiting a couple of months while you save up.
Cost of Excavation
Excavation can cost between $1000 for a small project, and $8000 for a week-long project.
Getting the equipment onsite
Any time a machine is moved to a location there is a charge for it. This is because it takes time to load, unload, and secure machines. Your project actually starts long before your contractor gets to your home!
You can expect to pay between $200-$400 for a machine less than 10,000 lbs
And $800-$1200 for a machine over 10,000 lbs
Factors that determine the move charge:
- Weight of machine
- Company owned transportation equipment
- Compliance with BC Commercial Vehicle National Safety Code (NSC)
National Safety Code compliance:
This is provincial requirement that applies to commercial vehicles over 5000 kg (think diesel pickup / trailer and larger)
Some of the Requirements:
- Signage on both sides of vehicle (easy way to spot non-compliance)
- Daily Hour of service (driver logs)
- Commercial vehicle inspection every 6-12 months
- Record keeping, Maintenance, etc.
Types of excavation equipment:
As a landscape contractor there are 3 very common types of earth moving equipment.
All 3 come in various sizes and configurations, and there is always a trade off with each machine.
- Excavators: Generally speaking, they are the best at digging holes, trenches or ditches. However, they “walk” the slowest out of all the equipment. This makes them impractical for moving a pile a long way, or working a large area.
- Skid steers: In our opinion they are hands down the most versatile piece of heavy equipment. They can lift heavy loads, maneuver, and travel very fast. This makes them very good at working in a large area, and moving piles of material or supplies. Unfortunately, the trade-off is they do not dig as well or neatly as an excavator.
- Backhoes: Backhoes are a Swiss army knife of both Excavators and skid steers. If they have enough room to work, they can be almost as productive as an excavator or Skid steer. Their inability to work in confined spaces is why they are not as popular as their above-mentioned counterparts.
On large scale projects you may need all 3 machines with 3 operators, while on other projects it can be more cost effective to have 1 machine with 1 operator.
Choosing the correct machine and size for the job may incur rental costs, however that may be a small price to pay to save days of machine and operator time.
Likewise, on smaller jobs using a company owned machine that’s the wrong size can save rental costs even if the project runs an extra few hours.
How much does excavation cost with an excavator?
Excavator themselves can cost between $65,000 - $300,000+
Pricing for a project with an excavator can vary from $1000 - $3250 per day.
The longer a project goes the lower the rates, as the machine is already onsite.
How much does excavation cost with a skid steer?
Skid steers can cost between $75,000 - $125,000.
A small project may cost $1000, while a full week project may be as much as $8000.
How much does excavation cost with a backhoe?
Backhoe price vary between $35,000-$150,000.
Similar to a Skid steer a small project can start around $1000, and run around $6000 - $8000 / week.
Factors that can increase the cost of excavation:
- Site preparation & Protection (temporary plywood roads)
- Space restrictions (Slower movements, smaller less efficient machines)
- Size of excavation area
- Grading tolerance: Laser vs. Operator feel
- Disposal / trucking costs
- Importing material: Gravel, soil etc.
- Site cleanup
- Harley raking – Perfect final grading attachment
- Weather condition (rain and snow reduce efficiency)
- Project plan changes
Factors that can decrease the cost of excavation:
- No site preparation or protection
- No landscaping or obstacles to work around
- Soil remains on site (No dumping costs)
- Little or no cleanup afterwards
As you can see, there are a lot of different factors that can contribute to how much excavation costs, as it is different with every site. The most important thing about your project is that your final expectations are met, and that you have a project that is done right.