What is the purpose of excavation? We break it down.

Are you in the planning stage of your construction project? In many situations, it may not be possible to start the building or go to the next step without doing some kind of excavation work. Since it is an essential step, we should always know some information about why you may need it done on your property.

When we talk about excavation, most people would classify it as the process of digging a hole. Although that is the case, the process is much more than that. It also involves the act of removing or moving earth and rock in a particular area to form a trench, cavity, and of course, a hole. Doing this requires skill, knowledge, patience, and the right set of tools and equipment.

By excavating a part of an area, owners can now start or proceed with their specific project. Because of their crucial contribution, we can view excavations as a step that prepares the site for construction.

Types of excavation

Excavation is categorized into two types: first, excavation by the type of excavated material, and second, excavation by the type of purpose.

According to the excavated material

1.     Topsoil Excavations

The removal of the uppermost layer of the Earth’s surface. This includes any debris or vegetation lying in the area.

2.     Earth Excavations

The removal of the soil that is under the topmost layer of the soil. For many projects, this material is set aside and may be used for backfill.

3.     Rock Excavations

The removal of the hard material that cannot be excavated using manual tools. Most often, heavy machinery is necessary along with a couple of explosives.

4.     Muck Excavations

The removal of a combination of soil and water which may have resulted from hydro-excavations.

5.     Unclassified Excavations

The removal of the combination of the materials above.

According to purpose

1.     Cut and Fill or Stripping Excavations

Best for constructing buildings and other types of structures. Cut and fill is usually the method when the area is not level or requires grading.

2.     Trench or Footing Excavations

Best for supporting foundations and installing, burying, or repairing service and utility lines. Compared to excavations, trenching is more dangerous as the cavity is meant to be deeper than its width. Hence, cave-ins and collapses are more likely.

3.     Basement Excavations

Like its name, this is the method professionals use for the construction of a level that is under the ground floor of a structure.

4.     Road Excavations

Like its name, this method is best for the construction or building of roads and pathways.

5.     Bridge Excavations

Best for the purpose of excavating to build a bridge or structure that connects two areas together.

6.     Over Excavations

Best for excavation work that goes beyond the depth required for a structure below the ground.

7.     Dredging

Best for the excavation and removal of the debris and various sediments found below water level.

What needs to be done before you begin excavation?

There are certain risks and dangers when it comes to excavation work. In fact, it is known to be one of the most hazardous construction processes not only in the United States but in the world. This is primarily because, during the digging, cave-ins can happen, which can be very fatal for the workers and the people around the area.

To make the entire process have a lower risk and decrease the possibility of an accident, proper and thorough preparations are necessary.

Here are the things you need to do before starting the digging:

  1. Contacting a professional excavation worker/company
  2. Identifying the soil type
  3. Inspecting the property and the surrounding area
  4. Getting the required permits
  5. Identifying service and utility lines
  6. Planning the timeline and excavation process
  7. Securing emergency contacts and first aid kits
  8. Making use of barriers and protective wear

Before starting any project, make sure to talk it out with your contractor. Doing this will allow you to not only know the various risks but also about their offer. Chances are, they may be able to take care of the permits by themselves.

How long does excavation usually take?

When it comes to timelines, the only thing professionals can do is make an educated guess. Since there are many factors that will affect how long it will take, expect a margin of error between the contractor’s estimate and the actual time to finish the work.

The time until completion will highly depend on the following:

a.    The type of excavation necessary

Do the workers need to dig at an extremely deep height for your foundation? Does your utility line have to get buried a couple of feet under from the surface? Depending on the type of excavation that must be done and the size of the area, expect large-scale projects to take a couple of weeks to complete.

b.    The difficulty of access

Is your property located in an urban area with a high volume of traffic? Or are you in a rural area that will take hours for the workers to arrive at the property? Both of these cases are challenging when it comes to the access of not only the contractors but also the equipment. As we would know, many excavation projects require the use of heavy and loud machinery that can be extremely challenging to transport.

c.    The weather

Slight rain showers may be unavoidable in some areas, but not to worry, as excavation work can still continue in this situation. However, when it comes to extreme weather, this will not be the case. For example, if the weather is extremely cold, continuing the digging may not bode well for your plumbing and equipment. Hence, the contractor may wait it out or take a longer time to complete the work.

What is the next step after excavation?

Already done with the digging work on your property? After that, what is the next step you need to ready yourself for? The answer to this question depends on what your project is. As an example, if you trenched for a utility line, then the next step would be to install the line yourself or to call a professional to do it for you.

What comes after excavation work

Here are the things you will need to do once the excavation is complete:

a)    If you are constructing a foundation

After the digging work is complete, it is time for the reinforcement steel installment. You may know this as rebar work. Rebars will make your foundation stable in order for it to last longer, especially in earthquake zones.

b)    If you are constructing a road

Once the excavation has already taken place, the next step is mounting. In this stage, the paving will be the focus in order to prepare the surface for a level and smooth pathway.

c)    If you are constructing a basement

When it comes to basement construction, the next step after the digging focuses on the footings. In this stage, footings are fitted in according to the intended shape of the concrete.

d)    If you are installing or repairing a utility line

For the installation or maintenance of a utility line, the next process will depend on the specific project. As an example, if the end result is meant to be a sewer line, what comes next is the laying out the bedding material such as sand into the trench to support the pipe.