What to do in the case of very difficult construction excavations?

If the work to be done requires excavations for hard-to-access construction such as near basements, foundations, trails, driveways or garden areas, the following techniques, tools and heavy machinery can help you minimize damage and excavate cleanly and quickly.

Before starting construction excavations

The first thing you should do, of course, is to contact the local public service providers to mark the underground lines of services.

Each state, and even some municipalities, has rules applicable to excavations for construction. Some are very restrictive.

While you wait for them, talk with your client about the construction digs that need to be done so you know exactly where and how you are going to dig so you know what to expect. Be sure to let him know if something needs to temporarily change place and then recover (fences, shrubs, garden lighting, etc.).

It is also a good opportunity to find out if there is a buried irrigation line, electrical cables or gas pipeline to a built-in barbecue. Talk to any adjacent neighbors so that they also know about the construction digs to be made.

In order to protect yourself from liability, state in the contract that you are not responsible for damage caused to any underground line that is not clearly marked on the plans or that the owner has not previously informed.

Beginning of the work

When the above is done and you are ready to start the excavation, do it slowly. If possible, carefully move all the shrubs and small trees so that you can replant them at the end of the work. If requested by the client, carefully relocate any flowerbed to an area selected by him. These can also be re-planted at the end of the excavation.

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If it is small to medium excavations for construction, cut and remove the grass in small sections to handle it easily. Lawnmowers work well for this, but you can also use a square-tip or sand shovel.

When you start digging, either with equipment or by hand, place the excavated earth on a tarp. This will keep the rest of the grass clean and if you then have to move a small pile of earth just pull the tarp to another part.

When digging directly near the foundation, first make a parallel trench about 3 to 4 feet from the wall. Then return and remove the dirt near the wall. This will avoid exerting too much pressure on the foundations.

One of the phases of excavation for construction that is frequently overlooked is the compaction of the earth once the excavated area has been filled. This can lead to incorrect final elevations, inadequate drainage and even structural problems.

In addition to using a compactor, you may need to add water to the soil that is too dry, add dry material to the soil when it is too wet, or add a different type of soil to ensure that the final compaction results in a stable soil with the appropriate drainage plane.

Always remember to compact carefully around the structures and foundations, as the vibrations of some machines can literally cause the buildings to collapse.

Accessories and machinery for excavations

You can dig a lot with hand tools, but if the work is big enough you can think of leasing to buy heavy equipment.

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Depending on the work, you can justify the use of heavy construction equipment such as a mini-excavator on rubber or steel tracks, a backhoe with rubber tires or a skid steer loader, either with tires or rubber tracks, as well as the right accessory, They can save you time.

These three types of heavy excavation machinery and the accessories you need can be rented from a construction machinery dealer, leasing company or other contractor. The construction equipment dealer or the leasing company can help you select the machinery that suits you for the job.

Just tell them the depth and width of the excavation, the difficulties of access to the workplace, how close you will be to a basement or the foundations and on what type of surface you will have to move. Both should provide some operational training if you need it.

The mini-excavators with steel or rubber tracks, as well as the mini-loaders with rubber tracks, exert very low pressure on the ground, so they cause minimal damage to the grass and the driveways. Even on rubber tires, a smaller, lighter skid steer that is properly operated should not damage the grass. If you are going to use larger machinery, make a path with plywood sheets to drive over them.

If you need to move between buildings, through an entrance or in other areas of difficult access, a mini excavator is ideal. Some models even have retractable tracks to traverse a door or entrance and then can be extended to exert the necessary pressure on the ground.

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If you are going to work near a structure or tree, look for a mini-excavator with the ZTS (zero tail swing) system. When you rotate your arm to unload it, the back of the mini excavator will stay within the track of the tracks.

After the work is done, take care of all the dirt and construction debris, sweep and hose the paved surfaces, and then water the lawn that you replaced.

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