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How Much Does Excavation Cost?

Last updated: 7th Jun 2019


Excavation and earthmoving services cost $90/hr on average. This can still change depending on things like the size of the area to be excavated and the difficulty of access. In general, excavation and earthmoving rates range from $80/hr to $100+/hr.

For instance, set aside at least around $2,500 for swimming pool excavation costs if you want to get one installed.

Where do these prices come from?

All prices stated in this article are based on FY 2018 pricing data compiled by The figures resulted from a comprehensive analysis of quotes submitted by Excavators on the site from July 2016 to July 2017.
Hear from an expert
Experts at Moores Outdoor Landscaping say that excavation for a 60m2 swimming pool costs roughly $6,000. It usually takes them about a day and a half to complete this job. The final price changes depending on the size of the swimming pool and the soil type.
Excavation and earthmoving jobs on

Barry, a resident of Queensland, hired professional excavators and paid them $1,400 to clear a brick fence and a side fence in front of his home. The project also involved clearing trees and bushes in the area and taking away all the debris after the job was done.

What Are the Excavation Costs per Hour in Australia?

In Australian states and territories, the lowest earthmoving and excavation costs per hour are in South Australia starting from $80/hr, whereas the highest hourly rates for excavation and earthmoving services are in Australian Capital Territory reaching over $100/hr.

Excavation costs in Australia
Australian State / TerritoryAverage excavation costs per hour
South Australia$80/hr
Western Australia$88/hr
New South Wales$90/hr
Australian Capital Territory$100/hr

How Much Does It Cost to Rent an Excavator for a Day?

The cost to hire an excavator is $560 to $800 a day on average, but daily rental costs can range anywhere from $160 up to $2,000 or more depending on the excavator:

  • size,
  • type
  • specs,
  • model,
  • make,
  • your location,
  • how many additional attachments you need and
  • for how long you need it.
How much does an excavator cost to rent?
Excavator type and key specsDaily rental costDaily cost of additional attachments
1-2 tonne zero-tail swing tilt hitch excavator
Digging depth: 2.1m
Lifting capacity: 185kg
Buckets & Ripper – $160 – $760/dayGrabs & Sifting Bucket + $60/day
Hammer & Augers + $64 – $180/day
Lifting Chains & Slings + $50/day
Rock Saw Diamond + $360 – $720/day
3-4 tonne zero-tail swing tilt hitch excavator
Digging depth: 3.4m
Lifting capacity: 350kg
Buckets & Ripper – $200 – $800/dayGrabs & Sifting Bucket + $60/day
Hammer & Augers + $80 – $200/day
Lifting Chains & Slings + $50/day
Rock Saw Diamond + $400 – $800/day
5-6 tonne zero-tail swing tilt hitch excavator
Digging depth: 4.1m
Lifting capacity: 450kg
Buckets & Ripper – $224 – $840/dayGrabs & Sifting Bucket + $80/day
Hammer & Augers + $96 – $220/day
Lifting Chains & Slings + $50/day
Rock Saw Diamond + $440 – $880/day
8-9 tonne zero-tail swing tilt hitch excavator
Digging depth: 4.6m
Lifting capacity: 780kg
Buckets & Ripper – $280 – $920/dayGrabs & Sifting Bucket + $100/day
Hammer & Augers + $112 – $240/day
Lifting Chains & Slings + $50/day
Rock Saw Diamond + $480 – $960/day
13-15 tonne zero-tail swing tilt hitch excavator
Digging depth: 5.2.m
Lifting capacity: 1,300kg
Buckets & Ripper – $440 – $1,000/dayGrabs & Sifting Bucket + $120/day
Hammer & Augers + $144 – $300/day
Lifting Chains & Slings + $50/day
Rock Saw Diamond + $500 – $1,000/day
22-24 tonne zero-tail swing tilt hitch excavator
Digging depth: 6.1m
Lifting capacity: 2,600kg
Buckets & Ripper – $680 – $1,160/dayGrabs & Sifting Bucket + $140/day
Hammer & Augers + $192 – $340/day
Lifting Chains & Slings + $50/day
Rock Saw Diamond + $560 – $1,120/day

Besides daily rental fees, excavator hire rates may also be calculated on the following bases:

  • per hour
  • per cubic metre/m3,
  • per tonne, or
  • per project at a fixed price.

What’s more, many rental businesses offer discounts for weekly or monthly hire, but most of them also require a minimum hire of 4 – 8 hours per day especially if they charge hourly rates.

As you’ve probably noticed in the table above, you’ll usually have additional costs for every extra accessory, as well as if you need trucks and other machinery.

For example, you may rent:

  • 2-3 tonne truck for $65/hr to $80,
  • 8 tonne truck for $80/hr to $95/hr,
  • Bogie for $90/hr to $100/hr, or
  • Truck and dog for $120/hr to $145/hr.

Some hiring rates have an operator and fuel costs included.

Also, many hiring companies will apply:

  • float charges (e.g. daily fees if the excavator cannot be parked securely or legally on-site, which may range from $225 to $750),
  • travel fees (time and expenses to deliver the machinery to your address and collect it back),
  • penalty rates (e.g. for excessive wear and tear of particular excavator parts) and/or
  • other surcharges (e.g. extra $30-$50/hr if you don’t cancel on time, want to use the excavator during weekends, public holidays, at night, after regular working hours on weekdays etc.)

Because of these reasons and many other specifics, it’s wiser to find the right type of excavator for your needs and then to ask a particular rental company in your area for an exact quote than to rely on the prices above. Still, they may serve as a guide so that you know what to expect.

Now you might be wondering whether renting an excavator is worthwhile and how much a new one costs.

When you take into account that purchasing a new excavator that you’ll probably rarely use can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $700,000+ mostly depending on its size and weighing, it’s more affordable and sensible to rent one although the daily rental fees are also pretty high.

What Do Excavation Companies Do?

Excavation contractors do different types of tasks in construction. Some of the most common tasks they perform include:

In short, here’s what excavation jobs are:

Whatever excavation work is done, it should be carefully planned in advance so that it is carried out safely and in compliance with the health and safety standards and regulations described in the Excavation Work – Code of Practice, which provides practical guidance on managing risks associated with all types of excavation work.

Moreover, it’s advisable that excavating companies refer to another closely related Code of Practice: Construction Work to ensure safety at the site.

Now that you know what an excavating company does and how to do the tasks right, it’s time to learn how much the most popular among these services typically cost, so let’s move on.

How Much Does It Cost to Excavate a House Foundation?

The cost of excavation for a house foundation is between $700 and $15,000 including the cost of specialised machinery and professional workers.

The final price depends on various factors discussed further in the article, but sits at around $2,000 to $5,000 on average for a typical residential job and may drastically increase or decrease primarily based on the project size and complexity.

Excavating and building a strong house foundation is the crucial step in the process of building a house.

Prior to undertaking any excavation work of this kind, make sure you’ve done your research properly and are aware of any possible risks such as ground that is unstable, too loose, prone to bushfire risks or too close to water.

In such cases, here are a few helpful tips on how to avoid moisture, flooding and other related issues:

  • Find out where the major utility lines are, especially gas ones because you don’t want to hit them.
  • Get the soil professionally tested to figure out if it needs to be treated or you need to dig deeper to reach a sturdier layer (for example, if you have clay, stone or large rocks the excavation costs will inevitably increase).
  • Survey and measure the land precisely to find out if it’s safe to start building or when levelling the ground is necessary (for instance, building on a sloping land piece will cost more).
  • Drill a pump line to drain the ground water (if any) from the excavation site.
  • Make sure everyone on the site is wearing protective clothes and has safety equipment.
  • Always hire licenced professionals for excavation and earthmoving work unless you’re one of them.

How Much Does It Cost to Excavate a Basement?

The cost to dig a basement hole ranges from $2,000 for smaller jobs to more than $200,000 for bigger and more complex excavation projects, but the average costs typically sit between $8,500 and $15,000 depending on numerous factors discussed below.

For instance, you can get a 6m X 4m X 1m basement dug with all the debris and dirt removed, and a new concrete floor poured for $30,000.

Similarly, you may expect to pay $15,000 to $25,000 on average only for excavation work for a 100m2 basement.

The cost perhaps can be lowered at around $1,000/day if you just rent the necessary equipment and do it yourself, which is not recommendable unless you’re licensed and highly qualified for this serious job.

It could be said that excavating a basement usually costs from $100 to $1,200 per square metre.


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How Much Does It Cost to Excavate a Driveway?

Average rates for driveway excavation are estimated to be around $500 to $700.

Still, excavation costs for a driveway range between $300 and $1,500 if it’s of standard dimensions 3mX6m (18m2) and built on a flat surface, mostly depending on your location and many other relevant factors.

The cost increases by additional $250+ for the same type of driveway if it’s built on a sloping surface and if the slope is steeper.

Besides excavation, the preparation work includes firming the crushed rock with sand, which costs $30 to $40 per square metre.

According to that, the total price for the mentioned prep work on a standard driveway (18m2) will be between $540 and $720 plus the cost of the crushed rock and sand.

Obviously, the costs go up if demolition and removal of the old driveway are needed, or if dumping, levelling or grading work is required.

How Much Does It Cost To Dig A Swimming Pool?

If you want to build a swimming pool in your backyard, it’s useful to know that pool excavation costs range from $1,350 to $12,000 depending on:

  • it’s type,
  • dimensions,
  • shape,
  • access,
  • soil type to be excavated (rock and clay increase costs), and
  • any other necessary additional work such as excavated material disposal.

It could be said that you can dig a hole for your pool for $600 to $2,000 on the low end, as well as for $7,000 to $30,000 on the high end for more challenging projects.

For instance, according to an excavation cost calculator, we’ve found out that excavation costs for a pool are estimated at $4,725. The pool and job characteristics are the following:

  • shape: rectangular/square,
  • dimensions: 3m wide and 6m long,
  • depth: 1m at shallow end, 2m at deep end,
  • total volume: 27m3,
  • 1.5-2m space available to access the pool area,
  • type of material to be excavated from the property – sand/soil,
  • disposing of the excavated material (soil) needed and included in the price.

Similarly, the estimated excavation cost for the same type of work, but an oval/round pool (3m diameter, 19m3 volume) which is 2m deep is slightly below $3,300.

Typically, installation and excavation costs for an inground pool are higher than for a pool above ground.

How Much Does It Cost to Level Land?

Land levelling may be necessary for a house foundation, backyard, driveway, shed and similar construction projects and the cost to level land ranges between $1,000 and $6,000 depending on the area size and job complexity, with an average price of around $2,500.

How Long Does It Take to Excavate a Site?

A typical site excavation process usually takes 1 to 2 days if the weather conditions are ideal. However, more complex excavation and accompanying prep work may take even longer, e.g. 3 – 5 days on average.

What Factors Affect Excavation Costs?

If you need excavators for projects like home renovation, inground pool installation or some landscaping work, you need to know the factors that can affect the overall cost of your excavation job.

Some of the major considerations that move the excavation prices up include the following determinants.

Size of the Area

This is the most important aspect of pricing when it comes to excavation costs. The bigger the area, the longer it will take for the job to be completed. Since many excavation businesses charge hourly rates, longer completion time naturally means you’ll have to spend more money.

Ease of Access

Large and open areas are easier and quicker to access, so jobs involving properties like this are less costly. Heavy machinery is also used in excavation and earthmoving, but a specialised type of equipment may be needed to reach difficult areas. Of course, costs will increase because of this.

Type of Soil

Sandy soil is typically very soft, so excavating on areas with this soil type won’t be too complicated. If there are trees or rocks and other hard materials, the job would definitely be more difficult and it will also cost you extra.

Type of Equipment

No two excavation and earthmoving jobs are exactly the same because of the various circumstances in every location. And in each situation, a different approach or machinery may be needed. If you need bigger equipment, this can amp up the cost of your project.

Excavation equipment you’ll need depends on your project scope and may include:

  • excavators (ranging from 2 tonne to 8 tonne ones),
  • bulldozers,
  • track mounted mini dumpers,
  • tip trucks,
  • compactors,
  • various attachments such as diamond drills, augurs and the like.

Labour Costs

Labour costs are affected by the complexity of the job and the type of machine to be used. A complicated project will also require more men to do the work and to operate the machinery.

How High Are Excavation Costs in Australia?

Check out the excavating and earthmoving service rate disparities among Australian states.

In South Australia, excavation and earthmoving services cost around 80/hr — the lowest average rate across the country.

Meanwhile, residents in Western Australia pay slightly higher fees. They shell out approximately $88/hr for the same type of service.

Click the infographic image to expand.

Excavation and earthmoving jobs in New South Wales have an average price of $90/hr, and the same rate is being charged by excavators in Queensland and Victoria.

At approximately $100/hr, the cost of hiring excavators and earthmovers in the Australian Capital Territory is the most expensive across the country.

Are you in need of expert excavators and earthmovers? When it comes to excavation and earthmoving, it’s important to hire only reliable businesses. has a list of the best excavation and earthmoving specialists in your area.

Find trustworthy excavation and earthmoving companies which start charging at as low as $55/hr and still get the job done competently. Avoid being ripped off and get the best deal now!

Disclaimer: Our cost estimates are based on quotes for excavation and earthmoving services and are useful as a guide only.

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