How Much Does It Cost To Clear A Land And Prepare A Building Site?


(per acre)
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Land Clearing and Building Site Preparation Costs

Professionals & Services Cost Guides      Land Clearing      Land Clearing and Building Site Preparation Costs

Demolition is often part of a home improvement or construction project, and land clearing and site preparation are, too. Land clearing may mean eliminating trees, stones, and debris, while the prep part may mean grading the land, clearing it to the proper level of soil, and generally getting everything ready for the work to begin.

Because there is such diversity in the amount of work and the types of work needed for land clearing and building site preparation, pricing varies quite broadly. It may cost little more than tree and brush removal, or it can be labor-intensive and require all kinds of equipment and gear to be used.

The price is usually provided on a square foot basis. However, you may be given estimates based on acreage. As is so often the case with specialized tasks, it is a good idea to consult with several contractors, get bids, and choose the one that offers the best service and price. It may not be the cheapest, but there is nothing wiser to invest in than well-done site prep. After all, it is this foundation upon which your home or other structure is to be built, and getting excellent work is vital to success.

Land clearing and building site preparation: 1 acre.

Item Cost
Tree removal $200-$1,500 per tree
Stumps are usually around $100
Stump removal $100
Grading $0.50-$2.50 per square foot
Disposal $50-$100 to remove trees
$50-$75 to split trees for firewood and leave on-premises
$50-$100 to convert trees to mulch onsite
Labor $880 to $1,700 per day if charging hourly rates
Total Cost $1,250-$3,500

Other considerations and costs

  • Keep in mind that the condition of the land before being cleared and prepped is a significant factor in the pricing. For example, sloped, hilly, or densely vegetated areas will bump pricing up by more than twice the price for flat and relatively open land.
  • Permits may be required for certain kinds of land clearing and site preparation work and may cost as much as $200.
  • Planning is crucial to success with land clearing and site preparation, and it is a good idea to work with the contractor and architect to identify the specific areas in need of work, as well as the location of the structure to be built onsite.

DIY considerations

  • While it is possible to rent equipment and tackle the job on your own, it can be dangerous and yield an unfavorable outcome. Site preparation is not for a novice and is generally left in the hands of skilled contractors and experts.


  • Craftsman Estimator Costbook, complete series year 2019.
  • Latest prices found on Home Depot and other vendor Web sites.
  • Literature review of DIY Web sites.
How much does it cost to clear a land and prepare a building site in your city?
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Cost by city

(per acre)
  • New York, NY$3,815
  • Bronx, NY$3,135
  • Brooklyn, NY$2,613
  • Philadelphia, PA$3,260
  • Washington, DC$2,829
  • Atlanta, GA$2,559
  • Miami, FL$2,328
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL$2,438
  • Minneapolis, MN$2,860
  • Chicago, IL$3,332
  • Houston, TX$3,437
  • San Antonio, TX$2,307
  • Austin, TX$2,613
  • Denver, CO$2,207
  • Phoenix, AZ$2,329
  • Las Vegas, NV$2,556
  • Los Angeles, CA$2,880
  • San Diego, CA$2,614
  • San Jose, CA$3,157
  • Seattle, WA$2,311

Local costs have been calculated by accounting for labor and material cost differences across different cities. To get accurate cost estimates, indicate yours: