What Do Excavation Contractors Do?

October 18, 2018

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A homeowner should hire professional excavation contractors for any digging needed on their property, including trenches for large gardens or pits for landscaping or mature trees. Excavating professionals will ensure each job is done correctly and professionally while also ensuring the safety of the work-site.

Excavation Contractors Danbury, CT dig pits and trenches of all types and sizes and also grade land as needed for construction, paving, and the like. An excavator can also remove hazardous, dry, or wet soil and replace it with fill dirt or topsoil. Many such contractors will also perform land clearing, removing trees, fallen branches or logs, heavy stones or boulders, and other such obstructions or debris.

Before you decide to rent a bobcat or other equipment and dig up your property on your own, note a few critical factors about excavation in general, and how professionals manage digging and clearing. Knowing what excavating contractors do will ensure you make the best decision for maintaining your property, and will also ensure that any excavating work you have done is performed safely.

Excavators for Site Preparation

Never assume that a vacant plot of land is suitable for construction of any sort, even if that land is cleared and seems level, even, and free of debris. Local excavation contractors should still be called to prep that site before any construction begins: </p>

  • Cleared sites might still have a large number of small rocks, branches, and other such debris that would interfere with construction or paving.
  • Land should be graded and sloped so that water runs away from buildings and roadways or driveways, to help avoid potential water damage to your new construction.
  • Soil often needs to be tamped down or compacted, so that it doesn't shift or collapse under the weight of buildings, pavement, and other such construction.
  • A construction site might need additional or broader clearance than you assume, to allow for walkways, landscaping features, irrigation equipment, fencing, and so on.

Excavators Grade a Site

Grading a site means ensuring that it's sloped or angled a particular way, usually to protect a home, roadway, or other such construction having water pool around its foundation, and to protect the site from soil erosion and small landslides. Grading a vacant site should be done before construction work begins, and grading may also be needed before the addition of a new driveway, extensive landscaping features, farm crops, and so on.

Grading land is often more difficult than homeowners realize, as this work needs to be done to precise angles and slopes while keeping the dirt and soil of the lot compacted. Grading can also require the removal of some soil. If not done correctly, this can lead to erosion or the exposure of rocky or sandy soil.

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Excavators for Land Clearing

Land clearing can be needed before an appraisal is performed, to reduce the risk of fires, or to clear the land after a storm or other inclement weather. A property owner may also want trees, boulders, and other natural features removed to improve the overall appearance of the land.

Excavators often perform land clearing, even if there is no digging to be done. The same heavy-duty equipment that is used to remove the land itself can also be used to remove logs, fallen trees, boulders, piles of dirt such as from a landslide, and other such unwanted debris.

Excavation Contractors Perform Eco-Friendly Clearing

Harsh clearing of a site can be harmful to the environment, as trees, shrubbery and other vegetation, and topsoil itself can reduce pollution in the air, keep the ground adequately watered, and provide a home for insects and other wildlife. Preserving some environmental features, such as mature trees or thick vegetation, can also protect the soil from being exposed to overly harsh sunlight, preventing it from becoming excessively arid and dry.

A land excavation company can work with a landscaping engineer or other such individual to create an eco-friendly plan for needed excavation. They might work around certain mature trees, relocate those trees or other shrubbery, or grade the property in such a way that moisture is directed to areas that would otherwise become arid. A professional excavator can also ensure that soil is not so compacted that it cannot allow moisture to flow freely around the lot.

Excavator Types

A land excavation company does much more than dig pits and holes, as said. Note a few specialty services they can offer when it comes to work you need to be done on your property.

  • Trenchers are used to dig long, narrow, shallow pits. This equipment can be used if you need to bury plumbing pipes, irrigation systems, or wires or cables, or if you're considering planting farm crops. Trenching can also be required for long rows of stone fences, or for curbing, meaning edging added along landscaping features or walkways.
  • Turning the soil might be needed before you plant a large garden or any farm. Tilling or turning soil loosens dirt so that seeds can be easily covered over while encouraging more oxygen and moisture to penetrate layers of topsoil. Your site will then be healthier and ready for planting.
  • Soil conditioning improves soil that may be too sandy, moist, or rocky, to provide a secure base for construction. Soil conditioning might involve the addition of lime, clay, or other such materials, mixing these materials in with the soil so that dirt is strong and able to support a new structure or roadway.
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Is Excavating a DIY Job?

A homeowner can typically rent a bobcat or other such small, lightweight equipment and perform some of their own excavating. While this might be cheaper than hiring excavation contractors, it's not always the best or safest choice for getting this work done! Note a few reasons why excavating is not always considered a DIY job, and why it's best to leave this work to the pros.

  • Even a small pit or trench can easily collapse if the walls are not adequately braced and secured. A collapsed pit means added work to dig around the collapse, and is also very unsafe for workers! Edges of the pit can collapse with the walls, causing workers to fall into the pit or otherwise suffer injury. Bobcats and digging equipment on the side of the collapsed hole can also lurch forward, also potentially causing injury.
  • While a homeowner using a bobcat may be aware of the underground wires and pipes, he or she may fail to note overhead wires, tree branches, and other obstacles. Snagging a shovel or crane arm on these obstacles can cause tremendous property damage, and cause your equipment to fall off balance, risking injury to the operator or other workers.
  • Rocky, sandy, or wet soil can be tough to remove properly. Rocky soil is often more dense and difficult to break up than you realize, while sandy or moist soil may just run out of a bobcat's bucket. A professional excavator can evaluate the ground to be excavated, checking several layers deep, and will have the right equipment and know how to remove it properly and safely.
  • A professional excavator can typically ensure that all needed permits are pulled or obtained. Having the necessary permits for your work will reduce the risk of facing fines or penalties for your dig.
  • Excavating contractors know when inclement weather is severe enough to stop excavating work, versus weather that may be bothersome but not dangerous or hazardous to an open pit or trench on your property.
excavation contractors in CT

What to Remember When Hiring an Excavator

When hiring an excavator, be sure to note a few critical questions and details to cover in your contract:

  • Ensure that your excavating company will obtain needed permits and that this cost is included in your quote or contract.
  • Note what will be done with the dirt that is displaced! If you're having a pit or trenches dug on your property, you may wind up with literally tons of dirt or soil that you cannot just let sit. Note if the pool excavation contractor or other such excavator will haul away that dirt for you, or if you would need to call a removal service to pick up this dirt after the excavation. In some cases, you might get a monetary credit for that dirt, as landscaping companies might resell it, so be sure to ask what happens with it and if you get credit for it.
  • In the same way, note if the excavation company will replace that dirt over pieces such as a septic tank or plumbing pipe. The excavator may need to arrange to return to your property some weeks after the initial excavation and completion of equipment installation, but don't assume this soil replacement will be done unless you have it included in your contract.

Remember that excavation contractors do much more than dig pits and holes, but you'll want to ensure you know everything included in their contract before hiring them, to ensure the work gets done correctly and you don't face any unexpected charges.

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