How much does excavation cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does excavation cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does excavation cost?

$2.50 – $15.00Cost per cubic yard
$100 – $300Excavator & operator hourly rates
$1,100 – $5,600Average total excavation cost

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$2.50 – $15.00 Cost per cubic yard

$100 – $300 Excavator & operator hourly rates

$1,100 – $5,600 Average total excavation cost

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Kristen Cramer
Written by
Kristen Cramer
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Excavation cost

Excavation costs $2.50 to $15.00 per cubic yard or $1,100 to $5,600 total on average. Excavator hourly rates are $100 to $300 per hour to dig a basement, foundation, or pool. Land excavation estimates depend on the dirt type, depth, terrain, obstructions, and amount of earth moved.

Land excavation cost by project
Project Average cost
Foundation pad for new home site $1,500 – $10,000
Dig a basement for new construction $1,500 – $10,000
Dig around existing house $5,000 – $15,000
Dig an in-ground swimming pool $1,000 – $5,000
Excavate a driveway, patio, or deck dirt pad $1,000 – $2,500
Excavate a hillside or flatten slopes $1,000 – $5,000
Grading for lawn installation $1,000 – $5,000
Rock / ledge removal $1,000 – $20,000+
Trenching for sewer, septic, or drainage system $500 – $1,200

Get free estimates from excavating companies near you.

Average excavation cost calculator

The following table shows the average cost for excavation work.

Average excavation cost - Chart
Average excavation cost - Chart
Average excavation cost
National Average Cost $3,500
Minimum Cost $500
Maximum Cost $20,000
Average Range $1,100 to $5,600

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

Cost to excavate land per cubic yard & hourly

Most excavation contractors charge by the cubic yard or the total project, though some charge by the hour for small projects. Charging by the square foot is rare but is sometimes done for small grading projects involving shallow depths.

Many excavation contractors have minimum project fees of $500 to $800.

Cost to excavate land
Charge type Average cost
Cost per cubic yard $2.50 – $15.00
Cost per hour (operator & excavator) $100 – $300
Cost per hour (operator only) $50 – $150
Cost per day (excavator rental only) $200 – $700
Cost per square foot $1 – $5
Cost per acre $1,000 – $3,000

Excavation cost per cubic yard

Excavation costs $2.50 to $15.00 per cubic yard, depending on the soil type, depth, terrain, and number of obstructions. Sand or light soil costs the least to dig, while excavating rocky soil or a rock ledge that requires jackhammering costs $50 to $200+ per cubic yard.

Excavation cost per cubic yard
Soil type or condition Cost per cubic yard*
Light soil $2.50 – $6.00
Average soil $6.00 – $10.00
Heavy/wet soil or loose rock $10.00 – $15.00
Jackhammered rock $50 – $200+

*Including labor and equipment.

To estimate your total excavation cost, enter the area’s length, width, and depth into a cubic yard calculator.

Excavator hourly rates

Excavator hourly rates are $100 to $300 per hour for operators with their own mini excavator, backhoe, or skid-steer loader. Hiring an operator without equipment costs $50 to $150 per hour. Most operators charge a minimum of one day or eight hours.

Renting your own mini excavator costs $200 to $700 per day, depending on the size and features.

An operator using heavy equipment to excavate a new home site.
An operator using heavy equipment to excavate a new home site.

Excavation prices by project

New home site excavation cost

Home site excavation costs $1,500 to $10,000 on average, depending on the foundation size, depth, and terrain. Excavation for a large foundation can cost $20,000+ in areas with rocky soil, large boulders, or excessive clay.

  • Pouring a concrete slab foundation costs $6,900 to $16,200, while building an unfinished basement foundation costs $26,800 to $50,300.

  • Building a house costs $155,300 to $416,300 on average, depending on the size and design.

  • Building a barndominium costs $70 to $120 per square foot.

Basement or crawl space excavation cost

Basement excavation costs $10,000 to $30,000 on average for new construction, depending on the size, depth, and terrain, and typically takes 2 to 4 days. Excavating may cost $30,000 to $50,000+ in areas that are hard to access or feature rocky soil.

Basement excavation cost calculator
Basement height & difficulty Average cost*
8’ – 9’ (standard soil) $10,000 – $20,000
10’ – 12’ (standard soil) $20,000 – $30,000
8’ – 12’ (difficult or rocky soil) $30,000 – $50,000+

*Excavation and grading only. Does not include concrete slab floor or basement foundation walls.

Digging a new basement under an existing house with a crawl space costs $20,000 to $45,000+ for excavation alone, depending on the size and accessibility.

Cost to dig around an existing foundation

Digging around a foundation costs $5,000 to $15,000 or $100 to $250 per linear foot to create access for foundation repairs or basement waterproofing. Exposing the foundation or basement requires a skilled contractor to excavate carefully without damaging the existing structure.

Cost to excavate a hillside

Excavating a hillside costs $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size, slope, and amount of dirt to move. Removing a steep hill requires heavy equipment. Grading companies with a mini excavator, backhoe, bobcat, or skid-steer loader charge $100 to $300 per hour and typically have a one-day minimum.

Pool excavation cost

Swimming pool excavation costs $1,500 to $5,000 on average if the soil is soft and free of obstructions. Excavation costs can increase to $15,000 to $20,000 for a difficult-to-access area, challenging terrain with boulders or hardpan, or a rock ledge that requires jackhammering or blasting.

An excavator digging a swimming pool in a residential backyard.
An excavator digging a swimming pool in a residential backyard.

Cost of excavating for a driveway, patio, garage, or deck

Excavating a driveway or patio costs $1,000 to $2,500 on average and typically includes grading and compacting the dirt. Costs increase for steeply sloped or difficult-to-access areas.

Yard excavation estimates

Yard excavation costs $500 to $5,000, depending on the project size and amount of grading or leveling needed. Small backyard excavation projects for landscaping cost $500 to $1,000, while excavating larger areas for drainage, pipe installation, or erosion control can cost up to $5,000.

Yard projects that may require excavation include:

Rock excavation and ledge removal rates

Rock excavation costs $50 to $200 per cubic yard to remove large boulders if storing them somewhere else on-site or $220 to $250 per cubic yard if hauling them offsite. Excavation costs can jump to $15,000 to $20,000+ if the excavator hits rock when digging a foundation, basement, or pool.

Cost to dig a pond

Get free estimates from excavating companies near you.

The cost to dig a pond is $300 to $3,200 on average for excavation alone, depending on the type, size, depth, and site and soil conditions. Excavating a large fishing pond costs $2,000 to $5,000+ per acre. Excavation costs do not include pond design or pond liner installation.

Cost factors of earth excavation and grading

Regrading a yard costs $500 to $1,000 for small projects or $1,000 to $5,000 for the average backyard, depending on the soil type, slope, and fill dirt needed. Most contractors include grading or leveling as part of an excavation project, while some charge extra for the service.

Earth excavation & grading costs
Project type Average cost
Land clearing $1,150 – $3,700
Land grading and leveling $500 – $5,000
Trenching $500 – $1,200
Dirt removal $140 – $230 per cubic yard
Additional backfill / fill dirt $5 to $25 per cubic yard

Other factors that affect the cost of excavation include:

  • Area size and depth – Excavation rates typically do not decrease for larger projects because more soil must be relocated or hauled away.

  • Accessibility of job site – Costs increase if the excavators must work around existing structures or the site has tight spaces requiring smaller or specialized equipment.

  • Site geology / soil type – Excavation costs less for property with soft, loose soil versus rocky terrain, hardpan, or rock ledges that require a hydraulic breaker or jackhammer.

  • Underground obstructions – Excavating around buried pipes or utility lines requires extra caution, increasing labor time and costs.

  • Plans for the dirt – Costs increase if transporting dirt to or from the site instead of relocating it on-site. Backfilling and grading often require additional dirt delivered to the site. Fill dirt costs $5 to $25 per cubic yard on average.

  • Site cleanup / soil remediation – Contractors charge extra if the soil requires remediation to remove contaminants. Soil testing costs $25 to $200 per sample for heavy metals or $5 to $50 per sample for a specific contaminant.

  • Equipment – Excavation companies typically have a mini excavator or backhoe. Digging in rocky terrain may require renting a jackhammer attachment or hydraulic breaker, increasing costs.

  • Location – Prices increase if heavy machinery must be transported to a remote location.

  • Land survey The average cost of a land survey is $200 to $1,200. Some excavation projects require a land survey before excavation can begin.

  • Land clearingLand clearing costs $1,500 to $3,000 per acre to remove trees, brush, and stumps on a lightly wooded lot and up to $6,700 per acre for a heavily wooded lot.

  • Tree removalTree removal costs $300 to $2,000 on average, depending on the size.

  • Permits – An excavation permit costs $50 to $400, depending on the project size and location. Most cities require a permit for any earthmoving project.

Cost to move or remove dirt

The cost to move dirt is $140 to $230 per cubic yard or $1,400 to $2,300 per dump-truck load on average, depending on the dirt type and amount, equipment required, location, and the distance the dirt is hauled.

Residential cut and fill cost

Residential cut and fill costs $1 to $15 per cubic yard. Cut and fill involves removing dirt from high areas and using it to build up low areas for leveling or grading. Contractors often use a cut and fill technique when excavating a driveway or road.

Land excavation FAQs

What is land excavation?

Land excavation involves digging, trenching, dirt removal, and other earthmoving to prepare a site for construction, typically using heavy equipment like an excavator or backhoe. Excavation is required when building a new home or driveway, digging a basement or inground pool, or installing septic or gas lines.

Excavation often includes land clearing, leveling, or grading, though some contractors price these services separately.

How long does excavation take?

Excavation takes 1 to 3 days for small projects and up to 3+ weeks for larger projects or areas with rocky soil, a rock shelf, or large boulders that must be removed.

Get free estimates from excavating companies near you.

Can excavation and grading be done in the winter?

Excavation and grading can be done in the winter, but it is not ideal in areas that experience snow as the thawing snow may cause shifting earth or drainage issues later. The best time to excavate is in the spring. Homeowners in areas without snow can excavate at any time.

Getting estimates from excavation companies

Before hiring excavation companies near you, be sure to:

  • Get at least three quotes to compare. Excavation companies require an on-site visit to provide an accurate estimate.

  • Look for pros with Erosion and Sediment Control certification.

  • Look at their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.

  • Select a company that is licensed, bonded, and insured.

  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.

  • Ask the contractor about an erosion control plan for your property.

  • Avoid companies with the cheapest quotes as quality may suffer.

  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead.

Questions to ask

  • How long have you been in business?

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

  • Do you own or rent your excavation equipment? Does the estimate include all equipment and delivery fees?

  • Are you certified in Erosion and Sediment Control? What is your erosion control plan for my project?

  • Will you flag any buried pipes and utility lines before work begins?

  • Does the estimate include fill dirt, topsoil, and dirt delivery fees?

  • Does the estimate include site cleanup and debris removal?

  • What other costs should I expect?

  • What permits do I need, and will you obtain them?

  • How long will the project take?