The Main Things to Know Before Beginning Your Excavation


Laying the groundwork is an important step in any construction project. In most cases, that begins with excavation. 

While excavation isn’t as glamorous as most renovations, it’s important nonetheless. This type of work is done to prepare the soil to support a foundation or structure. You might begin an excavation project to:

  • Dig a pool in your backyard
  • Build a basement
  • Prepare the land for a new foundation or addition

Like any home improvement project, many things can go wrong. What should you prepare for before you start digging? We’ve put together a few things to take note of:

Watch Out for Utility Lines

Whether you’re planning excavation in New Jersey or in Nevada, one thing stays the same: call before you dig! It’s incredibly important to note the location of underground utility lines.

When you start digging, you could encounter water, sewage, electricity, or gas lines. To identify where these lines are, you’ll need to call your local utility company. Then, use colored stakes to indicate the location of each type of line; for example, use a red stake for gas lines, and a blue one for water lines.

Digging with heavy machinery near a utility line is dangerous. We recommend switching to handheld tools whenever you get close to a line; they’re easier to control and more precise. Signs that you have damaged a utility line include:

  • A strong sulfur smell, like rotten eggs
  • Pools of liquid like water or oil
  • A hissing or leaking noise

With an excavation project, all sorts of safety hazards and unexpected complications can arise. These dangers exemplify why you need to hire a professional for excavation projects of any size. 

Identify the Soil Type

The type of soil on your property will determine how difficult or easy it will be to dig. Certain types of soils are especially difficult to remove. To get a better idea of what you’re working with, grab a handful of the top layer of soil. If it falls through your fingers like sand, you’re in luck; if it feels like it’s full of rocks, you’ll have a bit more trouble with it.

Once you’ve identified the type of soil that you’ll be digging, you can adapt your excavation strategy accordingly. Some methods are more or less successful with wet or dry soil.

If the ground is densely packed, moist, muddy, or contains clay, you’ll need to use heavy-duty machinery that can handle difficult soil. But if the soil is loose, dry, soft, and free from other materials, you’ll have an easier time excavating it. 

Consider Building an Emergency Exit

Even with careful planning, accidents can happen. The further down you go, the more unstable the structure of the surrounding soil becomes. If you plan to excavate deeper than 5 feet underground, you’re at a higher risk of creating a cave-in. 

You should consider creating an emergency exit so that your excavators can safely evacuate in case the soil collapses. This can prevent bad accidents from happening and keeps everyone on the job site safe. 

Prepare to Deal with Tree Roots & Boulders

Before you can begin digging out the soil, you’ll need to clear out any other obstructions on the property first. You might be blocked by boulders, shrubs, or trees. 

Small bushes and other vegetation can be removed without too much trouble. However, a boulder might require a crane to lift. 

Any trees standing in your way will require a bit of planning to remove properly, especially if the roots are deep underground. It may be possible to relocate the tree temporarily and replant it later; for help with that, consider contacting a landscaping professional. 

Choose the Right Excavation Crew

You’re ready to break ground and get your excavation job underway. But first, you’ll need to find the right people for the task. A few things to check for include:

  • Credentials. Is the excavator licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • Online reviews. What are previous customers saying about their quality of work?
  • Experience. Has the contractor performed an excavation job like yours before?

Projects of this complexity require knowledge, training, and attention to detail. These jobs are not ones to take on yourself if you lack the skills and expertise. You’ll want to hire a professional who can plan ahead and strategize about how to overcome unexpected obstacles.

Need a hand with your next excavation project? Using FastTask, you can find a highly experienced and reliable excavator for the job. Book a FastTask expert today!

Authors Bio -0 Kiara is a blogging enthusiast. She loves applying her knowledge of writing and marketing to new content pieces. Some of her favourite pieces can be found on the Cleanr Property Maintenance website.


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