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How Much Does Land Clearing Cost?

So, you have a plot of land. Depending upon what you do next, you might have a valuable investment, or an expensive liability. Most likely, you want to do some building on your property, but nature has a tendency to reclaim land that hasn’t been used in a while. Your lot is probably overgrown with trees, shrubs, and brambles, not to mention scattered rocks and other debris.

You will have to clear the land, but what is involved in this process? Is it something you can do yourself? Or do you need to hire someone for the task? How much does land clearing cost? Can you actually make money having your land cleared?

Start by Checking the Law

Before you undertake a massive project such as land clearing, you need to make sure everything is accounted for, legally speaking. Do some research to see what permits are required in your area. Even if you own the property, your local government may require a permit before you can clear anything away. You will also need a different, separate permit before you begin any actual building project. The required permits and insurance will differ depending upon the type of project you are doing. Is it residential or commercial? And is your land located near other properties? These are questions you will have to answer before you can begin the job.

How Land Clearing Works

Needless to say, no two lots are exactly the same. Some are larger than others; some are incredibly overgrown, while others only have a few rocks and shrubs that need to be removed. Because of this, there is no “one-size-fits-all” land clearing method. Sometimes, the job can be done by hand in a few hours with just a saw and shovel. In other cases, it requires heavy machinery and takes a number of days to accomplish.

If there are very large boulders sitting on the property, removing them will be no simple task. While you can usually dig around a medium-sized boulder and remove it with the help of a few strong people, larger ones will require the use of machinery to remove. In any case, you will need a large truck and probably a dumpster to haul the boulder away. Sometimes, the boulders will have to be broken up into smaller pieces and taken away in chunks. In that case, you might need equipment that is specifically designed for breaking up rock, such as a jackhammer.

Large trees on the property can also pose a challenge. While smaller trees can be cut down with a chainsaw and carried off, larger ones can be dangerous to bring down in this manner. To remove a larger tree, you may have to cut off the largest limbs first. Then you need to cut down the tree, perhaps even guiding its fall with ropes. After bringing the tree down, you have to deal with the massive trunk. You may be able to cut it to pieces with a chainsaw or haul it off with a large truck. You will also have to take care of the stump. Usually, a stump grinder is the fastest way to do this.

Removing brush and other overgrown plant life also requires specialized equipment. If you do it by hand, it may take many hours and be extremely tedious as you carefully pull away and dig away each and every shrub and bramble. Heavy equipment is usually a better bet, such as a mower or a mulcher. In some cases, professionals also use controlled burns for brush clearing; however, this should not be attempted except by the most highly trained experts.

Can I Save Money by Doing This Myself?

As we’ve mentioned above, land clearing usually requires a great deal of heavy equipment. You’ll need gloves, closed-toed shoes, long pants and long sleeves, a saw, and safety glasses for a start. You will probably need a chainsaw to cut trees away. You will also need a truck, a mulcher, and a stump grinder. Because you may need to remove larger debris from your land, you will probably need at least a few extra hands to assist you with the job.

The fact that you need to make use of so much heavy equipment means that attempting to clear a lot by yourself can become extremely expensive, unless you happen to already own the heavy machinery you require. Items like stump grinders and mulchers can easily top $100 a day to rent, and that’s not including the cost of trucks and dumpsters. Depending on how many days the job takes to perform, costs can quickly run into the thousands of dollars.

This is not even factoring in the time commitment. You will be working long days doing work that is very physically demanding. Time is money, of course. Especially if you need to clear the land for a commercial project.

What About Hiring a Professional?

In the vast majority of circumstances, hiring a professional to clear your land will be your best bet. Many people worry about the cost of hiring a contractor to remove the trees and debris from their land, but it actually is likely to prove to be less expensive than renting all that costly equipment and attempting the job yourself. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost is usually anywhere from $1,246 to $4,452, although this can vary depending upon your location and your specific needs.

A big part of the benefit of hiring a professional service to remove trees and debris from your land is that you may be able to earn some of your costs back. A tree service such as Mr. Tree may be able to advise you on selling the wood from fallen trees. In this way, you may be able to offset some of the expense of tree clearing. Mulch and gravel can often also be sold, helping you to further gain a return on your lot clearing investment.