One of the most fundamental steps in the construction of a house is the levelling of land. A lot that hasn’t been correctly levelled will compromise the structural integrity and safety of the completed home. So how much does it cost to level land in Australia?
The cost to level an average block in Australia sits around $14,000 to $20,000. However, the lot’s size, terrain, and slope will affect the cost to level it, and whether cut and full or land grading is required. Levelling a very steep block will cost more than a mild slope.
When building on a sloping block, land levelling will be a more intensive process, designed to simplify the design and construction. If you’re planning your new home on sloping land, an expert home builder for sloping land can let you know exactly what kind of site works are needed.
Here is how levelling land for building a home works and the average costs involved in your state.
Table of Contents
What Is Involved In Levelling Land To Build A House?
Land levelling is a multi-step process that ensures a house’s structural integrity. Grading and levelling are an essential part of site works or earthworks before the start of construction. The two key stages of levelling a block of land are cut and fill, followed by land grading.
Cut And Fill
Cut and fill is the process through which earth is moved or transferred from one place to another. This is done to make the ground of the construction site more level and even out any bumpy terrain.
Completing the cut and fill process involves two activities. First, a ‘cut’ is made when soil is cut from above the desired ground height. On the other hand, a ‘fill’ is when soil is placed into a pit or hole to raise its height to the desired ground level. Together, cut and fill uses the earth already available at the building site to achieve a level and even surface.
Keep in mind that there is a risk involved in cutting and filling. When soil is transferred to another place, the soil becomes aerated. This means that the soil has not yet completely settled and still contains pockets of air, which doesn’t offer a stable foundation for a building. To prevent sudden settling of the soil during construction, it has to be adequately compacted.
Land grading is performed to prevent water from flowing into the foundations of the house. Construction companies will usually try to create a gentle grade that slopes away from the foundations.
If the house is being constructed on a slope where water flows directly towards it, then land grading will ensure that water will flow away from the foundation instead. This process can also be done to create drainage for garden beds or other future landscaping projects.
Equipment Required To Level Land For Construction
There are machinery types and tools of all sizes used in the levelling of land. The heavy machinery required for these intensive site works can include:
- Skid-steer loaders
- Drum roll compactors
- Plate compactors
How Much Does It Cost To Level Land In Australia?
The cost to level land in Australia for an average block of land ranges from $14,000 to $20,000. This figure usually includes retaining walls, necessary soil tests, surveying and clearing of the site, among other things.
However, if your site works contractor needs to level a steeply sloped or uneven block, the cost of prepping land to build on can be higher.
Cost Of Cut And Fill / Land Grading
These processes are usually grouped as ‘excavation’ services since they are never performed separately. Excavation costs differ from state to state and city to city. Across Australia, you can expect to pay $80 to $100 per hour for excavation services.
One of the costs of ‘cut and fill’ works is the prior planning, surveying and soil testing that’s required. All of this is necessary to ensure the lot provides a sturdy foundation for your home construction, so this can’t be skipped.
If there isn’t enough soil on-site and it’s necessary to bring fill in to achieve a level surface, this will add to the site costs.
What Factors Affect The Cost Of Levelling Land In Australia?
Much like any other construction project, multiple factors will determine the cost of levelling land in Australia. It is important to note that levelling goes hand in hand with other construction processes, and these are usually performed as a package.
This means the factors that play a role aren’t just about levelling land – it also covers the planning, soil testing and surveying required to execute the work.
Size Of The Project
Most construction companies base the site costs off of the size of the project or house being built. As a result, the most significant factor in the cost of levelling land. The extent and grade of the slope itself will also determine the scope of works needed.
If you’re building on an oddly shaped block, machinery access will also factor into the quote. If your lot is very narrow or you’re building a rear strata home, crane access can be required in some cases.
Type Of Soil
The quality and type of soil on the construction site play an essential role in the cost of site works. Geotechnical engineers need to determine the following:
- Soil reactivity – the likeliness of the soil at the construction site to move, expand, or contract as a result of changes in moisture levels.
- Chemical conditions – the engineer will need to ensure that chemicals are not present in the soil hazardous for construction.
- Physical properties – the composition of the soil, whether it is rock, clay, or sand, among others. The slope of the site is also taken into account.
Construction projects that are farther away from contractor depots or those located in more rural parts of Australia typically incur higher site costs. This is due to logistical difficulties or higher costs of transporting materials and machinery to the site and the greater distance in connecting amenities. Different states and regions of Australia will also vary in the average cost of site works.
The cost of levelling land will vary depending on the type of machinery needed to carry out the work. Jobs that require minimal equipment, like a single small excavator, will have a lower price point.
On the other hand, if your site works contractor requires larger excavators and bulldozers, compactors, track-mounted mini dumpers, and specialised equipment such as diamond drills, this will increase the overall quote for levelling land.
When building on a battleaxe block or very steep slope, cranes can sometimes be required to get heavy machinery on site. If this is the case, that’s another machinery cost your site works contractor will factor into the price.
How Much Does It Cost To Level A Backyard In Australia?
Minor backyard levelling costs around $500 and may even be possible to complete as a DIY project. However, the average cost for backyard levelling on residential properties ranges from $1,000 to $6,000.
As homeowners, we all want our backyards to be presentable and comfortable. Aside from the aesthetic aspect, irregularities such as dips and bumps may be a safety hazard for those with children or pets.
The first step in levelling a backyard is to take a visual examination of where the land may rise or fall. To level the backyard, dirt will need to be moved, similar to the cut and fill method in construction. Sometimes dirt will have to be removed entirely if there’s no handy place to return it, incurring transport and dumping costs.
Like levelling land for constructing a house, multiple factors determine the total cost of levelling a backyard. For instance, backyards with extreme sloping cases will require more work and retaining walls, thus raising the costs.
What Is Involved In Construction Site Works?
If any trees or stumps need to be removed, tree fellers may be employed to cut these down. Aside from cut and fill and land grading, other site works include; soil testing by a geotechnical engineer, the connection of water, electricity, and plumbing utilities into the site, installation of termite barriers, and the installation of retaining walls, among others.
The exact site works needed will vary depending on the property. For example, some construction sites require asbestos removal, which can require specialised contractors.
This article is published in good faith and for general informational purposes only. It does not take into consideration your individual circumstances and does not constitute an estimate for any specific project. Central Avenue Homes does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Construction costs and other financial details vary and you should always seek a specific quote.
Greg has over 40 years of experience in the WA building industry starting as a carpenter joiner.
He is entrenched in the local industry and has served on the board for MBAWA (Master Builders Australia WA) for over 10 years and was a founding director of Wesbuilders Cooperative for over 11 years.
With this experience he is able to quote accurately on new projects without the huge increase to provisional sum allowances.