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Cost Of Soil Removals In Australia

Are you planning to undergo a construction project soon? This can either be land grading, having your dream swimming pool installed, developing a sloped block, or the need to upgrade your home. To achieve any of these, you'll need to remove earth. Some of the machines you'll need include loaders, backhoes, a Bobcat or bulldozer, tip trucks, and other heavy earthmoving equipment.

The cost of removing soil in Australia depends on the work to be done. For example, to hire a two-tonne excavator, you’ll have to part with around $95 for every hour. If you need more services, then the cost per hour will increase. A good example is if your project requires equipment attachments such as a diamond blade rock saw or auger.

The prices for excavation services are not fixed. Before hiring any excavation machines, it's crucial to contract a professional excavator to assess your project and help you estimate the costs involved. You can also use an online cost calculator to get an estimate. Keep reading this article to find out the cost of removing soil.

Cost Guides For Removing Soil In Australia

Hiring an Excavator for an Hour

The cost of soil removal in Australia varies from place to place. Each state and territory has its hourly rates. At $80 an hour, South Australia is the cheapest. The most expensive territory is the Australian Capital Territory, where excavation companies charge $100/hour.

As a resident of Western Australia, it'll cost you $88 per hour. In Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales, excavation costs per hour are around $90.

Daily Rental of an Excavator

If your project requires a day or a couple of days of work, hiring an excavator per day might be the best option - rather than leasing it on an hourly basis. The average excavator charge per day ranges from around $500 to $800. On the other hand, daily rental costs vary from $160 to $2000. This price changes due to several factors.

Some of the factors influencing the excavator cost per day include its size, model, make specifications, location, any additional requirements, and the number of days you plan to use it. To have a better estimate of the cost of hiring an excavator, consider the minimum day rates, transport costs, and any Sundays or holidays. Furthermore, you can request a precise quote from local excavator rental companies.

Basement Excavation

A basement is essential in any property development project, whether it is a residential or commercial house. Excavating basements depends on the dimensions. For example, removing soil from a 6m x 4m x 1m area will cost you approximately $2500. The cost of excavation also depends on the complexity of the project.

The more complicated the project, the more you'll have to pay. On average, for a 100 square meters basement, excavation firms in Australia charge between $15000 and $25000. If you want to cut excavation costs, hiring only the equipment you need is ideal. Furthermore, renting the appropriate equipment also cuts down the costs drastically.

Swimming Pool Excavation

Swimming pools come in different sizes and styles, and hiring expert excavation services is essential. For an in-ground pool, the minimum excavation cost will range from $600 to $3000. Suppose factors such as the type of soil, pool dimensions, style, form, and access to the site will always determine the cost of excavation.

Excavating fee for in-ground pools is higher than those above the earth. Be prepared to pay between $6000 and $30000 for complex and high-end swimming pool excavations.

Land Grading

Leveling the ground is essential, whether laying a foundation, constructing a driveway, basement, or other projects. Land grading is different from land excavation, although people usually confuse the two processes. Land excavation involves removing unwanted materials such as debris and rock from a construction site.

In contrast, grading consists in smoothing the surface to make it easier to work on. Grading also helps to minimise flooding. Grading a surface makes it easier to work on as it levels and smoothens such a surface. Grading also directs water away from a building's foundation, which helps to minimise flooding.

To level your land in Australia, it’ll cost you a minimum of $1000. On the high end, you’ll have to pay $6000.The prices depend on the project size and intricacy.

Plumbing and Septic Excavations

The average cost of excavating a 35-metre trench for installing plumbing and septic systems is about $850. Depending on what you want, it'll cost you between $300 and $1500. In case you don't have the skills to excavate, you can hire an excavator to minimise the costs.

Rock Excavation

Whether constructing a building, basement, swimming pool, or driveway, you can't ignore excavating rocks. It's a necessary step. The cost per cubic metre in Australia for rock excavating is at least $30.

Driveway Excavation

One of the significant determinants of the cost of excavating a driveway is the slope of the land. The average excavation price ranges from $400 to $800. For a flat site, it'll cost you at least $1400 to excavate 3m x 6m. It's more expensive to excavate a sloped surface that requires a retaining wall.

The cost will increase by at least $250. Besides excavation, there are other preparations, such as firming the ground. The prices will increase if your project involves the removal and disposal of soil waste. Disposal costs for contaminated soils will be higher.

Digging a Foundation for a House

Have a home project and need an excavator? To excavate your home’s foundation, it’ll cost you between $650 and $14000. The cost might be higher or lower depending on certain things. If you need more employees for the job, have a large area to excavate, and need better equipment, the cost will be higher.

For a typical home renovation project, the minimum cost for excavating a house’s foundation is $2000. This price is dictated by various circumstances - for example, the complexity and scale of the project. Furthermore, it's vital to ascertain specific land issues before starting any excavation. Issues such as fire hazards, proximity to water, and unstable ground – all of which can affect the cost.

Other Costs Associated With Soil Excavation

Many other factors determine the costs of excavation. Most excavating companies are likely to charge you for the following:

• Travel - Some excavation businesses will charge you for the time taken to transport the machinery to the project's site. Try hiring the equipment from a company that is proximal to the site. This is the only way of reducing such extra charges.

• Float - If you hire machinery for several days, you should be prepared to cater for security. If it's not possible, expect to pay float fees.

• Penalty - Depending on how you use the machine, you might incur penalties in case of damage or for using it outside the regular working hours.

How Long Does It Typically Take To Excavate A Site?

The average time to excavate depends on the project type and other factors such as weather. For instance, a typical excavation job can take less than three days, depending on the weather. An extensive land excavation that includes preparation work such as land clearing and tree removal may take more than three days.

Factors Influencing The Cost Of Soil Removal

Type of Soil

Time spent in excavation depends on the type of soil. For example, it's easy to excavate in sandy regions because the soil is relatively soft. On the other hand, areas with rocks, complex objects, or trees will cost you more money. For example, an excavation company may be required to remove a concrete slab or a substantial structure in some cases.


The project’s complexity and the type of machines used in the project impact the labour charges. Remember, a big project requires more workforce to operate the machines.


Excavation and earthmoving equipment require heavy machinery to move around. The accessibility of your project site is crucial. If your site is in an open area that is easily accessible, it will be cheaper than regions that require specialised equipment to get the machines to the project site.

Project Size

Small soil removal projects require less labour and equipment. They also take a shorter period to complete; hence are cheaper. On the other hand, large-scale excavation requires more powerful machinery and may take longer to complete; hence are expensive.

Project Type

The difficulty of a project also affects the excavation costs, which are determined by the type of project. For example, it's cheaper to grade a flat ground than to excavate an in-ground pool.

Needed Equipment

Due to unique variables in each area, not every excavation project is the same. Each one needs a new strategy or piece of equipment. If you need sophisticated equipment, it’ll cost you more. Furthermore, if you need to dispose of excavated material, you’ll need an excavator and tip truck. The number of tip trucks will be dictated by the amount of soil to be removed.

Area Dimensions

In any excavation process, the area to be excavated plays a crucial role in the pricing process. A more extensive area will take time to complete. A large area means you will require more money as most excavation companies charge per day or hour.

General or Specialized Contractors

Different soil excavation companies offer various services. Sometimes you'll have to hire additional personnel if your project includes different excavation jobs. In other cases, a general contractor can handle everything; hence you won't have to deal with multiple contractors.

If you're planning a large-scale renovation project, hiring a general contractor to handle the job from start to end may be useful. General contractors are slightly more expensive, but they handle everything.

Time of Year

Contractors are busy or less busy at different times of the year. During the off-season, excavation companies charge less for soil removal. Also, some projects such as paving an entrance require mild or warm weather. It's crucial to find out if temperatures will have an effect on your project.

Benefits Of Hiring Excavation Experts

Hiring an excavator can save you a lot if you have the skills to operate excavation equipment. However, hiring professionals to do the job has its benefits. Below are some of the benefits:

• Safety - Excavating involves a lot of risks. For example, being trapped and injured, exposure to airborne toxins, dangers of falling into trenches, and so much more. Thus, it is crucial to hire a professional who has undergone health and safety training.

• Efficiency - You can't compare the efficiency of amateurs to that of professionals. Amateurs will take more time to complete an excavation project, unlike professionals, increasing the cost of excavation.

• Knowledge and Experience - In terms of the quality of workmanship, amateurs will disappoint you. Professional excavators possess the knowledge and experience to improve the quality of the work even as they speed it up and smooth it out.

• Problem-Solving - Professional excavators can swiftly assess potentially troublesome, precarious, or unsafe situations, diagnose the concerns, and take the necessary steps.

Is It Necessary To Obtain Authorisation To Excavate?

Each Australian state has its laws regarding the excavation of soil. You must comply with the health and safety requirements set by the state. With this in mind, it's crucial to obtain council permission and approval for any excavation project.

Types Of Soil Excavation

Topsoil Excavation

This type of excavation involves removing the top layer of the soil. The topsoil is considered inadequate for sustaining structural loads because it has a lot of plants and moisture.

Earth Excavation

This one is suitable for the construction of buildings and bridge foundations as well as drainage ditches. It involves the removal of the layer beneath the topsoil.

Rock Excavation

As the term implies, it involves removing hard, compacted, or cemented materials. It's more problematic as it entails using special equipment and techniques such as drilling and explosives.

Muck Excavation

Muck is the combination of soil and water. It’s not suitable for construction and must be removed. Excavation can also be classified in terms of purpose. Some of the different types of excavation include:

• Striping - Also known as cut and fill excavation. It involves getting rid of vast amounts of topsoil, rocks, and other materials to create a space for building a canal, road, or railway.

• Drainage - If you want to remove water from a specific area of land, then you may need ditches and trenches. This process of getting water away from the land is referred to as drainage.

• Borrow - Borrow excavation is the process of obtaining resources from outside the construction site. Embankments and fills are made of this material. Borrow excavation is usually done only once it is determined that the requisite material cannot be found at the construction site.

Underground Excavation

As the name suggests, underground excavation takes place beneath the ground. As a result, new equipment, tools, and methods are required to safely and successfully dig out materials.

Over Excavation

This is an excavation that goes beyond the required depth for the creation of a below-ground structure. This may be required, for example, if the ground conditions at the level where you will build the below-ground structure are insufficiently stable or load-bearing to support the building.

In this instance, the excavation must be carried to a deeper, more stable level, the inappropriate material removed, the lower level earth treated to ensure it has the adequate load-bearing capability, and the excavation backfilled to the needed level with acceptable compacted fill.

Consider Working With Professionals

It is always wise to use professional help when undertaking massive projects, such as excavating to build an apartment. This is because everything has to be done with great precision. Any wrong move or calculation might bring the whole project down, making you lose all the investments you have put into it.

It might even end in a court case – which is something no one desires. This is why you should consider hiring professional excavators to do the job for you. Moreover, should you have any excess soil that needs removal, why not contact a skip bin company to safely and appropriately remove the soil for you?