Costs for Clearing Land in North Carolina

If you’ve bought land in a rural area, chances are you’ll need land clearing services.  You may want to build a house, cultivate a farm, or create a grazing area on your property. Let’s go through the common reasons that land clearing is needed, how to go about it and the costs involved.

Interviewer: What should we know about clearing the land?

Eric: Well, good question. That happens a lot, especially with land sales in rural areas. So first we need to know why are you clearing the land? Most common reason for clearing land is to put a home or a barn. The other reason would be cultivation farming, and the other reason would be grazing for horses or cattle.

And you have to know the costs that are involved. And one of the biggest things is people assume, “Oh, this lovely property has a bunch of trees on it. I’ll sell the trees and pay for having the land cleared.” And hopefully it can be a factor, but the timber guys in rural areas like 100 and 200 acre tracts, that’s what they get excited about. Depending on the type of trees maybe 20, 40 acres.

But if you bought your three acre tract, which is all the land in the world, I’m not making fun of it and everything. But a timber guy’s not going to be excited to come to your three acres and timber it for you. So if it’s a smaller tract, you’re not going to get really any value for the trees. If it’s a larger tract, it might go toward it. But there are a lot more costs involved. So if you’re going to clear the land yourself, you have to make sure that you have the right equipment. You might be renting equipment.

A bulldozer could be several hundred dollars a day, and that’s usually more costly on the weekend because you’re not the only person that’s renting stuff on the weekend. Probably a better option is to hire it out. It could take you several weekends to learn how to use some of that heavy equipment. So it’s not a whole lot more to hire it out. Most bulldozer guys right now are between $200 and $300 an hour. You have to take out the trees. Then we have to de-stump it. And then you have to figure out what are you going to do with those stumps?

And the most expensive thing to do is to have the stumps hauled off and take into a stump dump, which you’re going to pay for the hauling, and then you’re going to pay the people to put your stumps there. That’s the most efficient way to do it, but it’s also the most costly. You could also bury the stumps on your property. So if you have enough acreage and you have a lower spot or whatever, you can make a big hole and then bury the stumps there and cover them up.

You need to know that land right now, wherever you do bury the stumps is not going to be buildable in your lifetime. Those are going to decay and the land’s going to sink some. It’s not bad land by any means, but you have to realize you can’t put any type of structure on top of it. And then if it’s smaller or if you want to mitigate some of the hauling or the burying you can burn. And you have to get a burn permit, but that’s one of the ways to get rid of the stumps. Then we have to gang hair, which is a country way of saying, we’re going to rake the property, get all the roots, sticks, twigs, and rocks out of the property. Then you might have to grade it and then you have to seed it.

And then if you’re in a position where you want to have grazing animals like horses or cattle, it’s actually going to take a year or with it being as what it is now, it might take a couple years for that hay to get a thatch, like a woven root system. If not whatever animals you have on it is just going to tear it up. And that’s going to turn into a mud bath or whatever. You might have to have an erosion control plan. And if we’re looking in today’s prices, depending on the size tract, you’re probably to hire out and completely clear some land and including the timber value being subtracted, you’re looking on average around 3,000 to 5,000, an acre in this area.


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