My husband and I have cleared about two acres out of five, and we're thinking of doing our own build site grading, stump removal, etc. for the entire site.
Have any of you attempted this and succeeded? What equipment did you use?
The land is currently clear of all brush and we are working on taking down the last of the trees that need to go this week. We won't be grading until next spring when the ground thaws, so we have lots of time to research.
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Heavy equipment will be your friend if you want to do this in a timely manner. I would suggest an excavator with thumb for popping the stumps up out of the ground and a dozer for leveling and general clean up. You could either pile and burn the stumps etc or dig a hole and bury them. If you bury realize that you will eventually have a lot of settling on that area and you do not want to erect any type structure over it.
Depending on your location the equipment can be rented. Our rental places in my area will rent down to the half day (four hours on the hour meter) or as long as you want the machine. Delivery of the equipment is generally not included in the rental cost but is an added expense.
I've never run equipment professionally in my life, but wouldn't hesitate to do it myself. I did grow up around it and have used several different machines over the years for various things. It takes experience and practice to be "good", but for general land clearing if you take your time and learn the machine you should have no problems.
ETA: I would compare costs of having someone do the job against the cost of renting the machines and doing it myself.
It could all be done with a small dozer, but an excavator would be a lot neater for removing the stumps.
Around here it is impossible to rent that size equipment short term. And even if I could, I wouldn't. A professional operator is usually cheaper than renting the equipment because they are so much faster. I would either hire it done or buy the equipment-depending on the amount of work to be done and finances. Having a machine to do all the permacultureearthworks would be really nice.
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A good sized dozer can knock over good sized trees which makes a helluva lot smaller hole than digging them out and it only takes seconds as opposed to many minutes. You can get a half way decent dozer for $10k but you'd have to get it delivered. Also, it's used so it could break down and then you have to hire a heavy equipment mechanic. Meanwhile, you could just hire a local person with a dozer. Just make sure they push the top soil aside, do the grading and then put the top soil back.
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