Excavation Contractors Dig up the Dirt

by Marc Dickinson

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The term "to excavate" literally means to unearth, lay bare, or hollow out. So before any construction starts, these earthmoving experts are an essential part of the project. Think about your own workspace: under the piles of paperwork, supplies, and emails there is a desk, somewhere. It's difficult to get quality work accomplished with so much mess, but once the clutter is cleared it's easy to get organized and quickly become more efficient. The same concept holds in construction: before you build up, you have to work sideways. The lay of the land naturally discourages development, so to avoid it working against you the landscape must be moved, graded, and made perfectly level before production begins.

Preparing the Land
Once a project has been approved, surveyed, and staked out, you are now ready for some serious excavation work. First, these professionals work closely with other experts, such as permit services, utility companies, and land surveyors in order to prepare for the dig. Also, it's important to first clear the area of any troubling obstacles, such as trees, logs, roots, brush, or boulders. Excavation contractors can help plow the plot, smooth the soil, and they can even demolish any pre-existing structures that need to be removed. It may seem like thoughtless labor, but it actually takes a lot of delicate skill and restraint to remove obstructions while preventing damage to necessary surroundings.

The Dig Site
Once the landscape is prepped, it's now time to start digging. By using an excavator (a large crane-like piece of equipment) these professionals can burrow into the ground for any variety of reasons. Often excavation contractors are employed to dig out foundations and basements, but they can also be used to create holes for pools, lakes, or ponds. Once the foundation is finally formed, it'll usually be supported with backfill soil, which excavators can help accomplish. Backfill services can be a bit expensive depending on the current soil conditions, but since it's a crucial part of maintaining a watertight basement it's an important expense. Also, these earthmovers can help cut out driveways, curbs, gutters, and trenches. And since these diggers work closely with utility companies, they're usually employed to trench for electrical, telephone cable, and water lines, as well as preparing the ground for well or septic systems.

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Grade and Drain
When it comes to site preparation, excavation contractors not only remove the refuse and dig out the plots, they're also frequently hired to smooth out the landscape. Grading the soil helps make a site more efficient, foundations and driveways more reachable, and reduces future water problems that may occur once construction is complete. So creating proper drainage is essential, but it also takes a lot of pre-planning. Which way will the storm water flow and how will it affect your property? How will your drainage system affect your neighbor's property? It's an important step in the building process, so it needs to be done with precision-caliber quality. And because water movement is often determined by soil composition, when you hire an excavation contractor make sure you inform them of the type of dirt (clay, rocky, sandy, or a mixture) and topography (flat, sloped, rolling, etc.) they'll be working around, as this may also affect the grading cost.

Additional Excavation Work
These service professionals have all the equipment and training on hand, so when they're not preparing a site they'll sometimes take other excavation work on the side. If properly certified, they can carry out occasional concrete jobs or asphalt paving. Also, since they're involved in routine demolition, they can be hired exclusively for hauling. Plus, in the winter when the ground is too hard to dig or move, they'll sometimes offer snow plowing or snow removal services for both commercial and residential clients.

Marc Dickinson has worked in both the general contracting and landscaping trades and is currently a home improvement freelance writer with over 300 articles published.