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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Construction & Renovation > Excavation

Excavation Cost


How Much Does Excavation Cost?

 
average costDigging a Basement: $500-$10,000+high costDigging for a Fiberglass or Gunnite Pool: $400-$20,000
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Most excavation work is done by heavy machinery. Although other equipment can be used, digging typically involves a backhoe loader or an excavator. A backhoe loader has both a rear-mounted digging bucket on a two-part hinged arm and a front shovel-bucket, and is often the only machinery used on small to medium projects. An excavator has a bucket, boom and cab mounted on a rotating platform that sits on tracks (like a tank) or wheels. Excavators are also called diggers or 360s, and excavators with tracks rather than wheels are sometimes called trackhoes.

Typical costs:

  • Although most excavation companies hire out a machine and operator on an hourly basis ($40-$150 or more an hour) for a wide variety or work, they typically bid on residential excavation for the entire project based on the number of yards of dirt to be moved. It can cost $50-$200 per yard depending on local rates, the accessibility of the job site and its geology (soft soil, hard pan, boulders, etc), and whether the dirt excavated is left on site or hauled away. Prices can increase if the digging hits a rock shelf or other underground obstruction. Excavation companies usually charge at least $200-$1,200 or more, depending on location, travel time and type of equipment. Total costs will depend on the size and type of excavation project, as well as site-specific conditions.
  • For example, excavation for an in-ground fiberglass or gunnite pool kit might cost $400-$1,500 in an area with soft soil and no boulders or other obstructions, and as much as $5,000-$20,000 in a region with hardpan, boulders, rocks or other challenges.
  • With new house construction, excavating 2'-4' deep for a crawl space foundation and footers (the bottom of the foundation, which must be wider and extend below the frost line) can cost $800-$10,000 or more, depending on location and what's included. At GarageJournal.com[1] a Pennsylvania homeowner reports paying $1,600 for a 28'x34' foundation excavation that took two days.
  • Digging a basement for new house construction can cost $500-$10,000 or more, depending on location and what is included. For example, an owner-builder[2] reportedly spent $790 to dig the basement hole (with pouring concrete footings, foundations and a basement floor adding another $8,800). At DIYChatroom.com[3] an Iowa homeowner reports paying $1,600 for a 2,238-square-foot basement with 10' basement walls, in an open field with the excavated dirt left in piles on the property. And at ContractorTalk.com[4] a framing carpenter building a new house paid $6,000 for a basement excavation project that included digging about 800 yards of dirt, digging footers and a 200' driveway.
  • On an existing house, excavating outside a basement to install a waterproof barrier and footer drains can cost $5,000-$15,000 or more; for details, see How Much Does Basement Waterproofing Cost.
Related articles: Backhoe, Land Clearing, Land Grading, Swimming Pool

What should be included:
  • Excavation companies typically need to visit the property before bidding on a project, as site conditions have a major impact on costs. Excavation.net provides an overview of the different types of equipment that might be used on an excavation project.
  • Excavation for new home construction typically takes one to three days. Any topsoil on the site should be saved and set aside, and the rest of the excavated dirt may be put aside for later backfilling (refilling an excavation after the construction work is complete) and landscaping. Harbor Point Excavating in Washington displays before and after photos[5] from different excavating projects.
  • Techniques vary depending on site conditions, the type of excavation and the equipment used. BobVila.com posts a video of excavating a trench[6] for a new water line. A Canadian company demonstrates digging a pool[7] using an excavator with interchangeable buckets. A Colorado construction company displays a video of digging a basement[8] in tight conditions with a front end loader.
Additional costs:
Shopping for excavation:
  • Get several estimates. Ask for recommendations from local contractors or at nearby hardware and home improvement stores.
  • Ask detailed questions about the company's experience and equipment. Request for and check references from previous customers. Verify that the company is properly insured, bonded and licensed[9] ; search for any complaints with the Better Business Bureau[10] . Request a written contract or agreement that specifies the work to be done and the rates to be charged.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=33834
  2.  searchwarp.com/swa327616.htm
  3.  www.diychatroom.com/f19/cost-digging-pouring-foundation-9500/
  4.  www.contractortalk.com/f62/cost-excavating-basement-79631/
  5.  www.harborpointx.com/
  6.  www.bobvila.com/sections/tv/projects/5-bob-s-shingle-style-home/episodes/29-digging-a-t...
  7.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QEg2Laahi8
  8.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-dIjEcz1eE
  9.  www.contractors-license.org/
  10.  www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business-Reviews/
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