The Average Cost of a Cubic Yard of Concrete

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Whether you’re pouring a patio, upgrading a basement or setting fence posts, you’re probably going to need concrete. Jokingly called “liquid stone,” concrete adds structural integrity to building and remodeling projects. As far as construction materials go, the price of concrete is relatively inexpensive. If you plan to pour it yourself, you can save a lot of money.

While the price of dry bags of concrete is comparable in do-it-yourself stores and lumberyards across the nation, the cost of ready-mix batch concrete -- the kind that arrives on the jobsite in a truck -- varies wildly. Factors affecting batch prices include:

  •  the number of concrete batch plants in your area
  • delivery
    distance
  • and the demand for concrete at the time you order. 

Cost per Cubic Yard

For reference, a cubic yard of concrete, which is 27 cubic feet, will pour a 9-by-9-foot slab at a thickness of 4 inches. You would need 46 80-lb. bags of concrete to pour the same slab.

In certain communities, batch concrete, delivered, goes for around $80 per cubic yard. In higher demand areas, it can run as $150 or more per cubic yard. An 80-lb. bag of concrete costs between $3.50 and $4 in 2015, so you could spend anywhere from $161 to $184, plus sales tax, to buy enough bags to make a cubic yard.

Tip

  • Plan to pay a few extra dollars per cubic yard for concrete mixes with higher PSI (pounds per square inch) ratings. Local codes sometime require a minimum PSI rating for concrete used in walls, sidewalks and driveways, which will affect the final cost of the concrete.

Beware Hidden Batch Fees

While the cost of bag concrete is straightforward, the cost of ready-mix batch concrete is anything but. Even if your local batch company quotes a price of $100 per cubic yard, it still might refuse to sell you a single cubic yard without charging you a short load fee that could range from $50 to $200. Before ordering, ask the batch company representative about tack-on fees, which can include:

  • Higher per-cubic-yard charges for delivery on a Saturday.
  • Fees for additives, such as accelerant to help concrete cure
    faster on cold days or retardant to slow down curing in hot dry weather.
  • Additional fees for delivery outside the batch company’s local delivery area.
  • On-site hourly late charges if the truck has to wait while
    you pour a little at a time.
  • Fees for use of a pump truck if the concrete truck cannot
    deliver the concrete directly to the pour area. Pump truck fees can add hundreds
    of dollars to the cost of the concrete. When the pour site isn’t accessible,
    renting a gas-powered wheelbarrow can save big bucks.

Project-Related Fees

Building codes require steel reinforcement in many concrete projects, such as sidewalks, foundation walls and driveways. The amount and type of reinforcement varies by community, but the additional materials will add to the overall cost. You may also have to purchase fill sand and the wood to build concrete forms if your project is a wall or slab. Contractor labor is often the most expensive part of a concrete project, and covers excavation, forming, pouring and finishing the concrete.

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