Roads. Pools. Houses. Sewers. Tunnels. These all have something in common, and not just the letter “S”; each is on the long list of construction projects that require professional excavation.
Excavation is no simple task, and is much more complex than just digging a hole or moving some dirt out of the way. The quality of a structure’s excavation sets the stage for the entire construction project, so each step much be completed with precision and the appropriate equipment.
Excavation doesn’t start with carefree and sporadic digging. The construction site must be carefully surveyed and measured, ensuring that the project will stay within its allotted boundaries and meet a long list of requirements. The area to be excavated must be appropriately and clearly marked, which can be done with paint, flags, stakes, or whiskers—which look like a thick set of cat whiskers, except they are colorful and made of plastic. The process becomes more complicated still, as any underground utilities (existing or incoming) must also be marked and accounted for.
Assuming no issues are found (or created) during the measuring and marking of the excavation site, the actual removal of terrain may begin. As you may have guessed, the removal of the site’s dirt (or rocks, or grass, or concrete) is also not a haphazard process. The site must be excavated to the carefully marked and measured boundaries on the surface, but also to the correct depth below the surface. That depth may be flat all of the way across—as in for a house—or it may vary and have some shape to it if it’s for something like a pool or pond.
No matter what type of project it is, most projects will require a balanced floor. That means that the excavating team must use a number of tools and techniques to ensure a flat, solid, and level surface.
The equipment required to successfully complete an excavation vary based on the type and size of the construction project. A smaller job might be accomplished with spades, shovels, and wheelbarrows, whereas bigger jobs require heavy (and expensive) machinery. That list can include, but is certainly not limited to, bulldozers, backhoes, trenchers, and dump trucks.
Similarly, the “tech” level can hit two sides of the spectrum on an excavation job. While this is clearly not a new profession, there are new tools in the industry that allow for more precise measurements, surveying, and digging. Examples include all types of laser levels and GPS technology on Track-Type Tractors. However, jobs can still be completed with a collection of more traditional tools. Whatever approach is used, excavation equipment can be extremely expensive, complicated to use, and often requires specialized licenses and training.
To ensure that a job is completed safely, efficiently, and to proper code, you should always hire licensed, insured, and experienced contractors. Excavation is a precise, multifaceted, and defining step in many construction projects. Make sure that you plan yours accordingly, or else you might get grounded before you break ground.