Excavation – It’s not just for Archaeologists!

When you hear the term Excavation, your mind might be drawn to scenes of Indiana Jones, King Tut’s tomb, or dinosaurs.

Archeological Dig by Peter Griffin

But when you’re dealing with construction, it has to do primarily with your Site Preparation, and for simplicity’s sake, I’ll include anything that has to do with digging or dirtwork.

Now, you’d think since the Earth is made out of dirt, this would be one of the least expensive parts of building, but don’t be fooled!  While dirt might be cheap, getting the dirt, and especially the right kind of dirt hauled to your location is another story.

What are some ways that you can save money in your Site Preparation?

  1. Choose a site that already has a good soil composition. In the long run, it  is well worth the money to have a soil test performed to determine the soil type.  You can then decide what your best foundation options will be.
  2. Choose a site that will not require a tremendous amount of dirt work. It’s not uncommon for houses to require several hundred yards of fill, and at $10/yard, that can add up to several thousand dollars BEFORE the bulldozer/machine time.  Machine time can be $50-$100/hour.  You don’t want your House On A Dime to end up costing you $10,000 or more just for Site Preparation.
  3. Dig your own utility trenches (plumbing, electrical, etc.). This can literally save you thousands of dollars, depending on the location of your utilities.  Your contractor will charge you for labor, equipment and profit to dig utility trenches.  You can rent a trencher, and use some sweat equity to save hundreds to thousands of dollars.
  4. BEFORE you dig, have all existing utilities marked! You don’t want to have to pay to repair a water line, sewer line or phone line, and you DEFINITELY don’t want to cut a buried electric line!  It might cost you your LIFE.  In Texas, call 1-800-DIG-TESS (not 1-800-DIG-TEST) to have all utilities marked.  If you live elsewhere, check with your local utility provider.
  5. Take pictures of all of your trenches before covering them up. This will save you a tremendous amount of time, money AND frustration should you ever need to perform maintenance.  Make sure that you include a landmark of some type in the picture so that you can locate the trench later.

    Notice that I included the Crepe Myrtle tree in the picture to aid in locating the sewer line later.

Stayed tuned for an interview with Mitchell Bernhard, President of Apex Geoscience, Inc., on the importance of proper site analysis, and how to save money in the process!

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